Before Ford officially released the Bronco this year, fans closely followed its production (along with seemingly endless delays). Many people might remember those cool donut doors Ford teased in early design documents and photos. They appeared to be a feature on specific models, though they ultimately didn’t make it into final production.
But those doors might not be dead. A newly uncovered Jeep patent reveals donut doors for the Wrangler, which look undeniably identical to the early Bronco’s. Wasn’t Ford’s SUV supposed to have donut doors first?
Where did the donut doors come from?
After years of swirling rumors, Ford announced it would officially unveil the new Bronco’s design in early 2020. Its reveal was eventually pushed to July, when several more whisperings began about what accessories it might include. Motor1 was one of the first outlets to report a filed patent for donut doors.
A concept photo showed these doors had a circular hole in the middle. Fans also uncovered photos of tubular doors, which look more like the kind you’d see on an amusement park ride. These doors could have held airbags.
However, Autoblog reported that Ford shut down rumors about donut doors only a few months later. Executives did away with the idea due to safety concerns, but the tubular doors would still be available. However, these also still can’t be had on the Ford Bronco due to manufacturing shortages.
Fortunately, the tubular doors are seemingly on track for a 2023 model release. According to Ford’s online options configurator, the feature costs $850 for two-door models and $1,360 for the four-door Bronco. If you don’t want to wait, aftermarket tubular doors are also expected to hit the shelves soon.
Was the Jeep Wrangler supposed to have donut doors?
Recently, a patent turned up showing the Jeep Wrangler with donut doors on a four-door model. As with the Ford Bronco, this design had previously graced a two-door concept model that never materialized. The actual holes are also slightly more elongated than those on the concept Wrangler.
It’s just a design patent, so there’s no concrete evidence showing how the donut doors would look on the Wrangler. Still, many outraged Bronco fans believe Jeep intentionally ripped off the Blue Oval’s innovative and aesthetically pleasing design.
Did Jeep really copy Ford’s design?
Although the patent became public knowledge only recently, the document dates to 2017, and Jeep revealed the concept as a 2018 model. So, if anything, you could say the Ford Bronco borrowed the idea from the Jeep Wrangler.
It’s even likelier that the similarity in design is coincidental. Ford began developing the revived Bronco in 2016, a year before Jeep revealed the donut door–equipped Wrangler. Neither design made it to the final vehicles, so no design theft occurred for monetary gain.
Still, it leaves us questioning why the Wrangler patent has only come to light since the Bronco’s release. Jeep could be trying to capitalize on the Bronco’s donut doors. It seems consumers didn’t appreciate the Wrangler’s concept as much as they fawned over the latter’s doors.
In fact, the patent reveal could be a clever strategy to gauge customer interest in these doors. Case in point: Now Wrangler fans are excited about a possible donut door option on future models. Jeep and Ford are always on the lookout for what their customers want, so there’s probably hope for donut doors in real life.