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Ford Bronco: A Wild History (1966-1977)

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Generation 1: The Original Ford “All-Purpose Vehicle”

1966-1977

Information on this page was sourced from “Ford Bronco: A History of Ford’s Legendary 4x4” by Todd Zuercher.

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Models: The Bronco Roadster

The 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.

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Models: The Bronco Sport Utility

The 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.

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Models: The Bronco Wagon

The 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.

Designed to Go Wherever

Bronco challenged the competition right out of the gate. The first generation offered advanced capability, stability and maneuverability, while its rugged good looks singled it out from the herd.

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Engineered for the Ride

Bronco 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.

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Agile on the Trail

A short wheelbase enabled Bronco to nail tight off-road manoeuvres 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.

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Off-Road Prowess

Bucking 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.

Born to Win

Shortly after leaving the starting line, Bronco started grabbing the gold in off-road competitions. From its first appearance until today, Bronco has garnered more than its share of off-road racing wins and saddled up driving luminaries like Bill Stroppe, Parnelli Jones, Rod Hall, James Garner and many others.

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The Inside Story: Packages

Bronco needs packages worthy of it go-anywhere design and capability. Below we highlight some of the packages that were crafted with the outdoor enthusiast in mind-without skimping on style and comfort.

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Explorer Package

1972 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.

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Ranger Package

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 colour-keyed carpeting, colour-keyed vinyl trim panels with sleek wood-tone accents, colour-keyed vinyl trim on rear quarter panels and colour-keyed instrument panel paint.

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Sport Package

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 moulding (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 mouldings and parchment floor mat.

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Special Décor Package

Ford introduced the Special Décor Package in 1976 to send out the first-generation Bronco in style. Featuring a body-colour 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.

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Seating Choices

The first Bronco offered a variety of seating configurations: bench seat only, single bucket seat, two bucket seats only and bucket seats with a rear bench. Vehicles equipped with the bench or bucket seats without a rear seat featured a bulkhead behind the seat(s) to create a cargo compartment in the back.