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A Bronco that could Ride on the Road or Terrain

Large, roomy, tough, and powerful-just a few of the words used to describe the Ford Bronco. Produced from 1966 to 1996, the Bronco spawned five generations of SUVs, each more impressive than the last. The original Broncos, produced until the second generation's release in 1978, were compact SUVs similar in nature to Jeep CJs. They came with two removable doors, seats, and a roof, as well as a fold-down windshield, and were intended to be used as off-road vehicles, though they could be used on the road as well. Too compact to tow anything, they were still capable of attaching a plow in the winter or removing the top to give a convertible-like drive in the summer. Consumers could choose between a wagon, half-cab, or roadster model with front bucket seats, a rear bench seat, and a CB radio. It ran on a 170ci 2.8L inline-six with 105 horsepower or an optional 289ci V8 with 200 horsepower.

The Bronco Expands

The first significant change came in 1969 when the 289ci was replaced with a 302ci with 205 horsepower. The fold-down windshield and extractable doors were scratched, and as government environmental restrictions tightened in the early ‘70s, interest in the Bronco declined. Horsepower continued to drop, reaching an all-time low of 82 in '72, and new improvements would follow in '73. Power steering and three-speed automatic transmission (optional with the V8) were included, but with a consistent and strong decline of the pickup platform, the only available model was the wagon. The Bronco survived the hardships of the decade and saw a short second generation in 1978.

Because they had such a short life, the '78 and '79 models are seen as a unique rarity today. They were the first full-size models that pushed the Bronco away from a compact SUV to a full-size one. It was based on the F-100 and included a solid front axle and a 351ci or 400ci V8. 1980 saw a new generation that switched to a Twin-Traction Beam independent front suspension with a new 300ci inline-six as the base engine. A 302ci V8 and 351ci V8 were also optional engines. New trims were introduced as Custom (later XL), XLT, and Eddie Bauer. By the late ‘80s, the body was altered to fit a more aerodynamic style with rounded edges, and the 300ci inline-six received multiport fuel injection.

Finally, in the last generation beginning in 1992, many of the updates were implemented for safety-such as antilock brakes, Crumple Zones, passenger seat belts, and airbags. One of the most noticeable changes was that the top was no longer removable. In 1997, the Ford Bronco was replaced by the newer, flashy Ford Expedition SUV.

After 30 years of service, the Ford Bronco was retired, though Bronco owners still swear by their SUV.  Since the Bronco has been discontinued there have been rumors that the iconic SUV will return.  Although Ford denies the rumors, their persistence shows the fondness so many fans have for the Bronco.   

Ford is a registered trademark of Ford Motor Company. 1A Auto is not affiliated with or sponsored by Ford or Ford Motor Company. See all trademarks.

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