Ford Bronco: A Wild History
While the 2021 Bronco makes for one thrilling adventure partner, this isn’t its first rodeo. In 1966, this new breed of off-road vehicle stampeded onto the scene and into wild hearts everywhere, setting the mold for the modern SUV.
Generation 1: The Original Ford “All-Purpose Vehicle”
Information on this page was sourced from “Ford Bronco: A History of Ford’s Legendary 4x4” by Todd Zuercher.
Models: The Bronco RoadsterThe standard Bronco Roadster is an all-purpose vehicle without roof or doors. Smoothly contoured door openings give it a sporty appearance. Optional doors were available with or without glass and frame. Vinyl doors and a convertible top were also available on this model. The windshield may be folded down flat on the hood and locked in place. The standard seat is a bench type with ample room for three persons. ...less
Models: The Bronco Sport UtilityThe Sport Utility is the same as the standard Roadster except that it includes a short steel roof, metal side doors and roll-up windows to provide complete weather protection. The Sport Utility, along with the Roadster and Wagon, has a full-width 56-inch tailgate with a handy one-hand-operated latch. Wheelhousings are flat on top for extra convenience. The sturdy rooftop weighs only 70 pounds and is bolted on for quick and easy removal when desired. ...less
Models: The Bronco WagonThe Wagon has a full-length roof with upper body sides installed on the basic body. The two driver-passenger doors are steel with roll-up windows. The upper bodysides have large fixed windows. The rear liftgate also has a large fixed window and may be locked in the open position for ventilation. The tailgate may be left in the horizontal position for carrying long items. The entire enclosed area can be completely locked. The top and upper sides are bolted on and can be removed if desired. ...less
Designed to Go Wherever
Engineered for the RideBronco came off the line ready to hit the trail. A coil spring front suspension provided a smooth ride (unusual for an off-road vehicle), and a radius arm design added durability and strength. ...less
Agile on the TrailA short wheelbase enabled Bronco to nail tight off-road maneuvers that other vehicles would find tough to manage. With a turning diameter of 33.6 ft.—much lower than that of its peers—it could turn around in a small area and nimbly navigate obstacles in its path. ...less
Off-Road ProwessBucking the status quo on yet another front, engineers amped up Bronco’s track width. This innovation gave it a stability advantage on any surface, from paved highways to hillsides. It also boasted excellent approach and departure angles, breakover angles and ground clearance. ...less
Born to Win
The Inside Story: Packages
Explorer Package1972 saw the introduction of the Explorer Package, which offered a more budget-conscious alternative to the Sport and Ranger options. It included select features from the other two packages, along with a unique Explorer badge on the glovebox and an Explorer spare tire cover. ...less
In 1973, the Ranger Package infused Bronco with a luxury vibe. Design elements conveyed a premium feel without compromising the vehicle’s rugged edge. Exterior highlights included a spare tire cover with Bronco Ranger lettering and bucking horse logo, along with white vinyl striping on the body and hood.
The interior offered stylish houndstooth vinyl seat upholstery, plus full color-keyed carpeting, color-keyed vinyl trim panels with sleek wood-tone accents, color-keyed vinyl trim on rear quarter panels and color-keyed instrument panel paint.
Introduced in 1967, the Sport Package upped the Bronco style ante. Exterior highlights included an argent-painted grille with red Ford logo, bright trim surrounding the grille, headlamps and windows, plus bright-toned hubcaps, bumpers, taillamp bezels and drip rail molding (on certain years). The bold exterior look was capped off with an exclusive Sport Bronco emblem on the fenders.
On the inside, the Sport Package featured stylish extras like a chrome horn ring, pleated door panels with bright moldings and parchment floor mat....less
Special Décor PackageFord introduced the Special Décor Package in 1976 to send out the first-generation Bronco in style. Featuring a body-color top, a contrasting stripe across the hood and body flanks, and a blacked-out grille and with headlamp rings. The package was a product of its times and foreshadowed the popular Free Wheeling packages in later years. ...less