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The Ford Bronco has enjoyed quite a bit of popularity over the last few years. Vintage Broncos and new Broncos alike are more popular than an ice cream man in Hell. People have been overpaying for the chance to buy a new Ford Bronco. Meanwhile, the vintage Broncos are climbing farther and farther out of sight. King among the vintage Broncos is this 1968 Ford Bronco U13 “Roadster.” This vintage pickup truck is one of only 26 known examples left.

What is the Ford Bronco U13 Roadster?

One of the rarest vintage Broncos ever made
1968 Ford Bronco U13 “Roadster” | Mecum

The Bronco was introduced in 1965. At that time, it was offered in only three primary versions; the Wagon, which came with a roof and doors; the Half-Cab, which had a smaller cab and a short pickup truck style rear; and the Roadster – a version with no doors and no roof. 

As noted by Silodrome, the Roadster was only offered until 1968. From 1965 to 1968, the Bronco Roadster was the least popular version of the iconic SUV. Of the 212 Roadsters made in 1968, only 26 are known to still exist. This makes the Bronco Roadster one of the rarest configurations of an already very valuable and sought-after truck. 

First-Generation Ford Bronco 

1968 Ford Bronco U13 "Roadster" painted in black
1968 Ford Bronco U13 “Roadster” | Mecum

Without digging too deep into the Bronco’s history, the first-gen Bronco was a lovely bit of design that was created to compete with the Jeep CJ5. With that little bit of information, it might make a doorless and roofless version make a little more sense. 

One of the more interesting things about the development of the Ford Bronco is that many of the same team from the Bronco also launched the Ford Mustang. Silodrome explains that these shared team members included Ford product manager Donald N. Frey and Ford engineer Paul G. Axelrad, with the project being directly overseen by the automotive titan, Lee Iacocca.

The first Bronco came out in ’65 but wore the ’66 model year. Ford built it using a shortened version of the Ford F-150 chassis. Early Broncos only had one engine option – a rather boring 2.8-liter straight-six making 105 bhp. However, the sluggy straight-six as the only option didn’t last long. In 1966 Ford offered a 4.7-liter V8 engine, despite never updating the Bronco with bigger brakes and better suspension. It was the ’60s. We didn’t care about stopping and other silly things back then. 

The Bronco Roadster

1968 Ford Bronco U13 "Roadster"
1968 Ford Bronco U13 “Roadster” | Mecum

The Bronco Roadster might as well be a novel idea to current carmakers. I mean, can you imagine any carmaker today offering a cheaper version of a vehicle by taking the doors and roof off? It’s unthinkable. 

Despite the obvious differences between the three models, all Bronco versions were made with the exact same body. So, if you had a Bronco Wagon, you could convert it to either of the other versions. This is true regardless of which version you bought. This is likely why very few people went for the one without a roof and doors. Even the U13 Roadster has all the hardware for mounting doors and a roof if you choose to. However, the door coverings on the Roadster were covered with a painted fiberglass slab to cover these hardware bits. 

Given the rarity of true Roadsters, collectors hunt them with vigor. But given the easily convertible nature of the Broncos, it makes their hunt a bit tougher. True Roadsters must be verified by checking VIN. 

Happy hunting

If you want the rarest of rare vintage Broncos, or vintage trucks, in general, then keep a keen eye out for the U13. Again, many were converted for year-round driving. The 26 found so far could squad up as people discover more converted U13s.