The Second Coming of the 2021 Ford Bronco is on its Way!!
Tuesday at 12:54 pm
The undefeated Jeep Wrangler has reigned for many years now (over a decade), once the Bronco left the scene some 25 years ago. Best known, unfortunately, for the vehicle in which O.J. Simpson outran the police in 1994, this iconic off-road truck is one its way back.
It appears that we have the “Bronco Underground” to thank for continuing to stick to their vow to bring the Bronco back. Working weekends on their own time, the crew never let up. In their free time, without any approval from the bosses at Ford, the group sketched and modeled a new and better Bronco than the 1960s original. They wrote business plans and begged for space in factories, all in an effort to convince management the Bronco could succeed once again.
This was no small undertaking in the wake of recessions, fluctuating fuel prices and changes in consumer taste. No question more and more Jeep Wrangler’s were flying out of the dealership, as other retro SUV’s took over. It remained difficult to convince the higher ups at Ford that taking a chance on somewhat of a niche vehicle could be a win.
As all big business operates, Ford needed to have a ‘broader’ strategy.’ This strategy could include putting the spotlight on other offerings, for instance, the F-150 truck.
Keeping at it on their own time, the Bronco Underground kept insistent. Introduced on July 13, the ‘new’ Bronco has a removable roof and doors, bucking horse emblem on its tailgate, a dashboard with mounts for cameras/phones, and rubberized floors with drain holes so the sure-to-be muddy interior can be cleaned.
Ford stopped production of the Bronco in 1996 and in 1999, the Underground group came up with a secret program to begin again. They planned to design a new, less boxy design. The program, led by Moray Callum in the Dearborn, Michigan studios, was code-named U260 (U for Utility and 2 for two-door, and 60 from a separate code name T6 for Ford’s small Ranger pickup).
The mechanical underpinnings were provided from the Ranger, to keep the costs down. The team developed both two-and-four-door versions, aiming the Bronco at younger buyers, keeping low pricing and minimalist design in mind. Painting the two-door version red, the team asked Jac Nassar to give it a look. He liked it immediately. The next step was introducing the idea to potential buyers.
Their marketing efforts were delayed due to the faulty Firestone tires episode. A massive recall and congressional investigation followed, leading to lawsuits and losses. Nassar was fired, budgets came under pressure and Ford killed the program.
All involved in the project were deeply disappointed. At that time then chief designer J. Mays stepped in and took another shot at the project. He asked his styling studio to design the Bronco of their dreams. Then in 2004, Ford introduced the silver Bronco concept at the Detroit Auto Show. It was a hit. Ford’s response to the popular Hummer, the proposed Bronco, however, had no platform to be built on. As a concept car, it had no real future. What its introduction confirmed, however, was that there was a market for a new Bronco.
What some execs at Ford knew, as did the Underground, though was that there was plenty of people out there who wanted a ‘true sport-utility vehicle.’ In 2006, designer Melvin Betancourt reworked the concept Bronco to fit the underpinnings of the Ranger sold overseas. He was successful in getting a Ford factory in South Africa making the Ranger to build a new Bronco on their assembly line. That new Bronco would be shipped to the U.S. Ford wasn’t buying it. Then came the 2009 recession, as big auto manufacturers came close to bankruptcy. All discussion about any new Bronco was forbidden.
The next bit of bad luck came when Ford realized it had to use the name Bronco or it would lose it. They came up with the idea to put the emblem on the Expedition to keep the trademark alive.
In 2015, Ford decided to bring back the Ranger pickup to America, GM small truck sales ramped up and new small trucks were being designed and sold. The next hurtle involved the need for another vehicle to be built beside the Ranger so that using the plant could be justified. Bingo, back came the idea of the Bronco.
After intensive consumer research, Ford wanted to make sure the name Bronco didn’t have a bad rap after the O.J. fiasco. Luckily, the subjects most associated with the word “Bronco” were wild and free. The name “Bronco” would stay.
Ford planned a big debut, but with the COVID pandemic decided instead to make it a televised debut on July 13.
The director of advanced product marketing, Mark Grueber kept pushing for the Bronco, when ‘so many people doubted’ them. Now the ‘new’ Bronco is a reality and will be in dealerships in Spring 2021. Two and four door models and the Bronco Sport will be available.
As all icons, the Bronco is a vehicle all its own. The acronym GOAT (Go over any terrain), has stuck all these years, and 200 songs have been written about the Bronco. Who says the days of loving an automobile are over?