If there’s one person who must be tremendously happy right now, it’s probably O.J. Simpson. You’ve probably seen the news – and the memes – that there’s a new Bronco out in the wild, 24 years later. And given how Ford managed a great retro comeback with its iconic muscle car, the Mustang, from the fifth generation in 2005 onwards, I wouldn’t doubt a second that the new 2021 Ford Bronco will be a massive success. The Bronco has been long rumored to do its comeback, but now not only is it official, it’s been fully revealed, including its final design, all technical elements, trim levels and price tag, but there’s one small issue. If you live in Europe, like I do, we won’t get it, at least for now. Hey Ford, if we bring O.J. Simpson over here, will you import it the 2021 Ford Bronco overseas ? Text: Mickael B. © Photos: Ford, Los Angeles Times ©

Ford Bronco VS Jeep Wrangler: Which one is more popular in America?

The Ford Bronco, for all non-American people, is just as popular in the American car culture as the Jeep Wrangler. Although the Jeep can trace its routes back to the 1940s with the Willys, the Bronco managed to forge its own popular reputation in a much shorter lifespan, as the first generation was only introduced in 1966. It was developed by Donald Frey and Lee Iacocca – the two masters behind the original Mustang too – with the idea to compete against Jeep, which was the reference, even at that time.

It was available with four different engines and as a 3-door Sports Utility, 2-door pickup or full roadster with no doors. The Bronco’s design was simple and functional like the one we saw back in 2015 in Texas (link here), which means it was easily modifiable and ended up in several off-road competitions such as the Baja 1000 in period. Also, an interesting fact is that the tachometer was on the options list in 1966!

1971 Ford Bronco
1971 Ford Bronco First Generation

From 1978 on, Bronco started sharing the widely acclaimed F-Series Pickup truck platform

The second generation was introduced in 1978 and instead of having its own platform, it was derived from the F-Series chassis. Losing all the multiple body available from the first generation, it was only available in 3-door SUV version and with two very big engines: the 5.8 liter (352 cubic inches) 351M V8 which developed 156 horsepower and a 6.6 liter (402 cubic inches) V8 which had only 2 more horsepower over its smaller brother! In addition to losing its different body choices, the second generation Bronco had the same trim names as the F-Series to align customer expectations. Nonetheless, with its continued simple, solid, bulk design, it was a great sales success for Ford, which sold over 180’000 second generation Broncos in the short two-year span of its existence.

1978 Ford Bronco
1978 Ford Bronco

The Eddie Bauer’s editions of the Bronco were the one to have

The third generation was presented in 1980 with the target of keeping the full-size dimension of its predecessor while offering more powerful powertrains. On the way it lost its bigger engine and Ford introduced a second 351 cubic inches eight cylinder Windsor engine which had 210 horsepower. Not what would be considered high output by modern standards, specially given its engine size. This third generation saw as well the reintroduction of a six-cylinder engine, which was only available with a manual transmission. Just as its predecessor, this Bronco shared most of its components with the F-Series Ford, including trim levels, topped up with the special edition Eddie Bauer. This third generation Bronco was as well the first one ever offered overseas, being sold in Australia, and contributing to the success of the model, with over 320’000 total units produced from 1980 to 1987.

1986 Ford Bronco
1986 Ford Bronco

More aerodynamic, the Bronco still looked like a rugged solid box of metal

As Ford renewed its best-selling pick-up truck in 1986, and as the Bronco was based on it, it seemed fairly logical a new Bronco appeared, one year later. The fourth generation was given a brand-new look with new front, hood, grille, headlamps and featuring slightly better aerodynamics. Although, do not worry: the Bronco still looked like a rugged, solid box of metal. Engines remained the same, with the straight-six at entry level, 302 V8 in the middle and Windsor 351 V8 on the high-end.

Mounted to those engines, you can have 5 speed transmissions, which came directly from… Mazda. Not so American your Bronco, suddenly, ain’t it? This fourth generation saw as well three special editions. The top of the line Eddie Bauer was kept from the previous generation Bronco, while in 1991 in an attempt to revive declining sales, Ford introduced a Nite package which featured a blacked-out exterior and a silver anniversary edition to celebrate 25 years of Bronco.

1990 Ford Bronco
1990 Ford Bronco

The fifth Bronco introduced major standard safety features

The fifth generation Bronco though is usually the one people have in mind, specially when you talk about it to non-car people, thanks to the legendary O.J. Simpson chase on 17th of June 1994. Proceeding in the same way as with the fourth generation, Ford introducing first a new F-Series generation, then the Bronco had to be renewed. This generation saw major updates in terms of safety, exterior design and interior design. It was the first Bronco offered with standard airbags, standard rear brake light and seatbelts for all seats.

With its less boxy design, it was even more aerodynamic. It featured a major refresh on the inside, with the introduction of remote keyless entry, alarm and leather seats as an option on certain trims. Although it was actually never written how to take off the hardtop, and was a major complaint from customers at the time compared to previous generations, it was still technically possible, given you had the right tools. Special editions continued too with this fifth Bronco, including Eddie Bauer being top of the line, Nite edition and other special colors available.

1993 Ford Bronco
1993 Ford Bronco Eddie Bauer

When you think about Ford Bronco, you think about the O.J. Simpson chase

Although Ford never admitted that the O.J. Simpson chase was the reason for stopping the Bronco two years later, a lot of people thought it was the case. On 17th of June 1994, Simpson took hostage his friend Al Cowlings in his white 1993 Ford Bronco and forced him to drive to Nicole Brown’s house. Police quickly caught him one hour after the beginning of the chase on Interstate 405 close to Los Angeles, with up to 20 police cars and nine news helicopters surrounding the white Bronco at low speeds while streets of the city of angels were being emptied for safety precautions and people went to see the white Bronco passing on the Interstate with signs encouraging OJ to flee.

The event was even more watched than that year’s Superbowl, fetching over 5 million more viewers in the one and a half hour long chase to Simpson’s Brentwood Estate, where he was finally arrested. Although his chase was seen by some as an admission of guilt, it is believed that it contributed to split the opinion, with some other people believing he was innocent and fleeing unfair prosecution of a black man charged of killing his white girlfriend. In the end, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty on the penal charges but guilty during the civil case.

OJ Simpson chase
June 17th, 1994: Al Cowlings driving his 1993 Ford Bronco while being held hostage by O.J. Simpson on the Interstate 405

The Bronco may have died, but now, it’s back from its grave

The Bronco died in 1996, but 20 years later, amidst negotiations in the historical Michigan plants of the American brand, and following productions shifts to Mexico as well as President Donald Trump’s election, Ford announced it would bring back the Bronco and Bronco Sport in this factory. And now, it’s here. The sixth generation, which will be available from Spring 2021, will start from $29,995 for the two door model and $34,695 for the four door. The two engines available are two Ecoboost, a four cylinder 2.3 liter issued from the Mustang with 270 horsepower and the 2.7 liter V6 with 310 horsepower. Only the smaller engine though gets a manual gearbox option.

The First Edition, already sold out, is the top-notch equipped with all the off-road and premium options. There are a total of six trims, starting with Base, then Big Bend which gets bigger tires, Black Diamond which adds skid plates, rock rails and rear locking differential, Outer Banks with leather seats, Wildtrak adds the bigger engine, even bigger tires and Bilstein dampers, and the Badlands gets trail optimized tires and disconnecting front sway bar.

2021 Ford Bronco
2021 Ford Bronco

New Defender and Wrangler, the Bronco wants to beat them all

The Bronco’s ground clearance is 295 mm (11.6 inches) while the wading depth is 850 mm (33.5 inches), two impressive figures that beat its main competitor (respectively 10.8 inches ground clearance and 30 inches wading) the Jeep Wrangler but nor the new 2020 Land Rover Defender (11.5 inches ground clearance, but 35.4 inches wading). In addition to the doors being fully removable, the top can also be taken out to enjoy the open to the fullest. In case you decide to go in some rivers without the doors, Ford offers a waterproof interior cloth with rubber floors and drain plugs! Well thought Ford, well thought.

The interior itself  is well-designed too with a huge 12-inch screen that includes off-road trail navigation, which is going to be useful without mobile signal as well as grab handles everywhere in case things start to get shaky. There are not too many buttons, but all seem to serve a precise purpose: front and rear differentials lock, traction control, and off-road assist including hill-descent and Trail Control. In case of need, a few auxiliary switches are fully customizable for the 200+ accessories Ford is planning to sell.

2021 Ford Bronco
2021 Ford Bronco

If you’re having a 2021 Bronco, ensure you get the Sasquatch package

With seven Goes Over Any Type of Terrain (GOAT) driving modes, the Bronco promises great modularity for all kinds of terrains and conditions, from gravel to mud, through snow, trails, or sand. Now, we cannot wait to drive the new Bronco, hopefully soon once the borders reopen, and if you want one just as bad as we do, you can actually reserve one on Ford’s website with a little deposit of $100. And if you are one of the lucky ones who can already spec yours in one of the 10 available colors for the early 2021 deliveries, there is one option I would say is mandatory, which is the Sasquatch package. The Sasquatch package comes as standard on the Widltrak and First Edition and has all the right goodies for off-roading: the 35-inch mud terrain tires, shorter final drive ratio, both individual locking front and rear differential, Bilstein dampers and wider track width. And if you are, like us, living in the miserable Europe continent, please join us in creating a petition for Ford to bring the Bronco to Europe.

2021 Ford Bronco
2021 Ford Bronco