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The Ford Bronco: History, Buying Tips, Photos, and More

All things Ford Bronco on Automobile.

The 2021 Ford Bronco and 2021 Ford Bronco Sport have landed. After more than two decades without a Bronco model in production, Ford officially introduced the 2021 Broncos to the world on July 13, 2020. In fact, Ford just days prior announced Bronco will be a brand unto itself, bringing the nameplate back to the marketplace in a bigger way than ever before. With the all-new Bronco back in action, refresh your knowledge of Bronco history with this quick guide.

Ford Bronco Essential History

The Ford Bronco arrived in showrooms for the first time in 1965 for the 1966 model year, where it was marketed as an all-purpose, four-wheel-drive vehicle. The Bronco was built on a unique platform and aimed at a market segment inhabited by the International Harvester Scout and Jeep CJ-5, which offered lots of fun and versatility for not much money. Roadster, two-door wagon, and half-cab pickup body styles were available, along with six- and eight-cylinder engines.

By 1978, the second-generation Bronco had arrived. Larger in size and now based on the Ford F-100 pickup chassis (with borrowed styling cues as well), the Bronco retained four-wheel-drive for all models, but now was only offered as a two-door wagon. Two V-8 engines were offered, and while a four-speed manual was standard, a three-speed automatic was optional for the first time.

In 1980, a third-generation Bronco arrived with a more emissions-friendly range of engines including a standard straight-six. It continued to rely on the F-Series for styling and parts influence, and shared trim levels with these pickups as well. In 1982 the Bronco II was released, which was essentially a smaller and less-expensive variant based on the Ford Ranger compact pickup.

The fourth-generation Bronco launched in 1987, aligned with the launch of the new eighth-generation F-Series trucks. Changes were made to styling which resulted in improved aerodynamics, and the interior was updated for greater comfort. A four-speed automatic replaced the three-speed during this generation. Both six- and eight-cylinder engines continued to be offered.

The fifth generation Bronco arrived in 1992, with more incremental improvements over the fourth-generation models. Ford ended Bronco production in 1996, but now the new sixth-generation version, built on the Ford Ranger platform, will hit the trails for the 2021 model year. Ford also revealed a new Bronco Sport model based on the compact Ford Escape as the Bronco's companion within the new subbrand.

2021 Ford Bronco, the Sixth Generation

Twenty-four years since the previous Bronco went out of production, the 2021 Ford Bronco is finally here, and we couldn't be more excited.

Stylistically, it looks like the 1966 Bronco was never truly redesigned, only updated over the years—and it looks phenomenal. The new Bronco has the indomitable Jeep Wrangler squarely in its sights, so the Ford's doors come off, the roof opens up, and you can hose-down the floors when you think you've accumulated too much dirt and mud.

Gone are the massive, thirsty V-8s of Bronco's past. Ford's familiar 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder serves as the base engine, with 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque; it is backed by either a 10-speed automatic transmission or a six-plus-one manual transmission—the "plus one" being a low-speed crawler gear. The optional, range-topping engine is Ford's 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6, pushing out 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Ford does not offer a manual on the V-6; the 10-speed auto is your only option if you want the extra gumption. The 2021 Ford Bronco is available with either two or four doors, and is only available with four-wheel drive.

Too big, expensive, or brash for your tastes? The Ford Bronco is now a sub-brand, launched with the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Based primarily on the Ford Escape, the Bronco Sport is still plenty off-road capable, catering primarily to active-lifestyle types who might gravitate toward a Subaru Forester, Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, or Jeep Compass.

The only engine options here are retuned versions of the three- and four-cylinders found in the Escape; the base 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder puts down 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque, positioned below the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 hp and 295 lb-ft. All Bronco Sports come with off-road tuned all-wheel drive, and a six-speed automatic transmission.

Ford Bronco Highlights

Perhaps the Bronco's biggest claim to fame is when Al Collings and O.J. Simpson led police on a slow-speed chase through Los Angeles in a fifth-generation 1993 model in 1994. Some 95 million viewers are said to have seen the now-famous white Bronco evade police on the 405 freeway. While the event boosted the model's popularity, the Bronco's cancellation in 1996 was due to the higher sales of more family-friendly SUVs such as the Ford Explorer and Expedition.

Classic Ford Bronco Buying Tips

Classic SUVs are hot in the current market and are typically sought out as more usable collector cars for family-oriented buyers. Generally speaking, as the Bronco's evolution progressed, it became larger and more feature-packed. The earliest models are generally seen as the most purposeful and pure, and are typically used in stock or modified form as fair-weather toys. The later examples are still more than capable of being daily driven with fuel-injected engines and optional push-button four-wheel-drive. There are now many aftermarket companies supporting Broncos of all ages, and parts are generally affordable and easy to find. Updated "resto-mod" versions of early Broncos can give the best of both worlds, with modern suspension and powertrain components but classic looks.

Ford Bronco on Automobile

You probably wouldn't want to be Jeep right about now.

Just don't call it a Bronco II.

Fat tires, lockers, heavy-duty shocks, and more.

We think the all-new Bronco is special, and these are just a few of its features that impress us.

Confusing, sacrilegious, or smart, Ford has made Bronco and Mustang their own brands.

The engineers knew there was a problem—but Ford sold the Bucking Bronco, anyway.

This Bronco decked out in hardcore off-road parts sure looks like Ford's answer to the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

We ride in the new Baja 1000 race Bronco—it's wild, but not wooly.

This was our first real look at the new Bronco's two-door body style.

It looks like the new Bronco will be available in one of 10 hues.

The big Bronco's Escape-based baby crossover SUV sibling leaks before its debut.

It looks like the new Bronco will be available in one of 10 hues.

These spy photos show the Ford Bronco will indeed be a rugged box on wheels.

The 2021 Bronco R previews the new production Bronco SUV.

Order this fully electric neoclassic 4x4 today and start chasing Teslas around.

Be forewarned, though - they aren't cheap.

Aggressive, bad-ass, and customized with a rad color scheme too.

Old becomes new with these 1966-1977 builds.

Ford Bronco Recent Auctions

Ford Bronco Quick Facts

  • First year of production: 1965
  • Last year of production: 1996 (2021 model launched in July 2020)
  • Total sold: More than 1.1 million
  • Original price (base): $2,480
  • Characteristic feature: Chunky features, off-road prowess

Ford Bronco FAQ

  • How much will the new 2021 Ford Bronco cost?

The 2021 Ford Bronco starts at $29,995, including delivery fees; The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport starts at $28,155.

  • When can I order and receive a 2021 Ford Bronco? Can I pre-order a new Bronco?

Orders are now open. Bronco Sport deliveries will likely begin late this year, with regular Bronco deliveries coming in spring 2021.

  • Will the 2021 Ford Bronco have a V-8?

No. At launch, the 2021 Ford Bronco will be available with either a turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine or a turbocharged V-6 engine.

  • Will there be a Bronco Raptor?

Ford hasn't announced a Bronco Raptor, or Raptor-style Bronco, but anything is possible.

  • Will the 2021 Ford Bronco have 4 doors?

The 2021 Ford Bronco is available in both two- and four-door configurations.

  • How much is a 1966 Ford Bronco worth?

The price of a classic Ford Bronco varies greatly with options, modifications, and condition. We suggest $15,000 as a starting point for projects, with fully restored vehicles costing multiples of that.