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Ford Bronco Buyer's Guide

Early Bronco Side Shot
Kevin McNulty | Writer
Posted March 1, 2011
Photographers: Ford Motor Company, 4 Wheel & Off-Road Staff

The Ford Legacy Survives

Ford started a 4x4 legacy that scratched an indelible mark on the off-road world over 45 years ago with the introduction of the Bronco. Since its release in 1966 (late 1965) the beloved Bronco has morphed into a number of popular body styles and was fitted with the advanced performance features of the times. The early utilitarian four-wheel-drive vehicles gave off-road enthusiasts a tough, dependable, and capable vehicle that could be driven to and from adventure locations with the ability to carry family and more gear than its competitors. To this day, the early Bronco is highly sought after, and its later-model fullsize brother and the smaller Bronco II are still classics in many circles of off-road fanatics.

Early Bronco ('66-'77)
The '66-'77 Bronco was a utilitarian vehicle designed with the now-classic body lines of the era and built to compete with Jeep CJ-5 and IH Scout 800. The vehicle's design included a number of cutting-edge (for the time) performance features like front coil springs and radius arms. The rugged early Bronco was fitted with solid axles front and rear, and it was offered in three body styles.

The Bronco quickly became popular among off-road and outdoor enthusiasts because it gave them more cargo room than the Jeep CJ-5 and classier body styling than the bulbous Scout. The Bronco was also offered with a standard inline-six or V-8 engine, unlike the its competitors.

A number of modifications were implemented on the Bronco over its production lifespan to keep up with the competition. The 289ci and 302ci V-8 engine, 200ci inline-six, power steering and brakes, trim styling packages, and upgraded appointments made for a great on- and off-road rig.

'66-'77 Bronco Specs
Standard till '73: 170 ci I-6 with 89 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque
After '73 and discontinued in '75: 200ci I-6 with 89 hp and 156 lb-ft
Optional till '68: 289 ci V-8 with 150 hp and 242 lb-ft
Optional after '68: 302ci V-8 with 137 hp and 222 lb-ft
*Ratings are net after parasitic loss

Transmissions: Ford 3-speed manual, C-4 automatic ('73)
Transfer case: Dana 20 low gear of 2.46:1
Front Axle: Dana 30 (Dana 44 after '71)
Rear Axle: Ford 9-inch

Front: Coil spring and radius arms
Rear: Semielliptical leaf springs

Optional: Reserve tanks available
Fuel capacity (gal): 14.5
Wheelbase (in):

Fullsize Bronco ('78-'96)
It had a long production run of 18 years, but the fullsize Bronco was initially released to compete with other sport/utility vehicles from Jeep, Chevy, and Dodge. The fullsize Bronco was based on Ford's F-series pickup and shared a number of components with the truck to keep production costs down.

The larger, more powerful 4x4 represented the second-through-fifth generations of the Ford Bronco and was a big hit with four-wheelers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The second generation lasted only two model years, '78-'79. The third generation was '80-'86, The fourth '87-'91, and the fifth '92-'96.

Over the years the Bronco underwent a number of styling and performance changes, even losing the dependable solid front axle and moving to an awkward Twin Traction Beam (TTB) for the '80 model year. The fullsize Bronco held its own against the competitive Jeep Wagoneer, Dodge Ramcharger, and Chevy Blazer 4x4 vehicles, but was finally discontinued after the '96 model to make way for its replacement, the Ford Expedition.


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