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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 11: Ford introduces the Bronco on this date in 1965


1966 Ford Bronco
1966 Ford Bronco
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: