Tuesday, August 12, 2014
August 11: Ford introduces the Bronco on this date in 1965
Donald Frey, the Ford engineer and product planner who shepherded the Ford Mustang into being, wanted to do a true off-road vehicle for a follow-up — something in the vein of the Jeep CJ-5 and International Harvester Scout, little trucks gaining popularity in the mid'60s.
Lee Iacocca gave it a green light, but with one major condition: Frey and team had to do it on the cheap, since it would require an all-new chassis. The resulting truck, named the Bronco, was the first 4x4 Ford had built itself when it was introduced on this date in 1965 as a 1966 model.
By modern standards the Bronco was almost military-grade in its accommodations; no power steering or brakes, carpet optional, and not enough power to even tow. But Ford had hit the right mark, engineering a SUV with a 35-foot turning circle that could handle any terrain.
The Bronco would soon gain a V-8, and march the country toward a long-term love affair with the SUV. (Those 1966 models are now collector's items.) Here's the first ad for the Bronco: