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History of the Classic Ford Bronco

Classic 1970 Ford Bronco Red

The Ford Bronco is among the most iconic off-road SUVs on the market. For decades, it outclassed the Jeep Wrangler, but production ceased in the mid-90s. This may have been due to OJ Simpson’s infamous flight from dozens of patrolmen down 60 miles of Los Angeles highway in nothing less than the iconic Ford Bronco. While that sounds like free-advertising, at the time, the Bronco became a little too sensational—emblematic of one of the 90’s biggest controversies. Fortunately, time’s passed and production’s resumed—the Bronco is back and ready to be evaluated on its own merits! Take a tour with DeYarman Ford in Indianola, IA through early Ford Bronco history. Then, contact us to test drive the new Bronco near Des Moines! 



The Classic Ford Bronco: 1st Generation (1965–1977)

The early Ford Bronco was introduced to Winterset drivers as an off-road vehicle that could handle rugged terrain while keeping passengers comfortable. It featured its own design platform with a unique chassis and 92-inch wheelbase, came standard with four-wheel drive and featured a fierce (for the time) 105-hp inline-6 engine. While it wasn’t fancy, its chassis design stood out. It looked tough, unpretentious, and yet, distinct. Dedicated fans followed. 

Second Generation (1978-1980) 

The Ford Bronco received an overhauled design in 1978. Now a full-size SUV, the second classic Ford Bronco featured a new chassis design that drew inspiration from the Ford F-Series. The wheelbase was also extended to 12 inches, and while multiple body configurations were offered on the early Ford Bronco of the 60s and 70s, the second gen Bronco was only offered as a 3-door. 

Third Generation (1980-1986)

The third gen Bronco arrived just two years after production began for the second generation. This iteration was lighter, with a more compact chassis design. Still, it retained a full-sized SUV body style. Otherwise, not much changed. 

Ford Bronco II (1983-1990)

Production for the Ford Bronco II began halfway through the third generation and ran concurrently with the second half of the third generation and most of the fourth generation. Technically, the Bronco II is its own unique model. It took the Bronco concept back to the compact SUV body style of the 60s. It was released with the Ford Ranger—Ford’s signature compact truck as a foray into “small but rugged” vehicle design. Eventually, the Bronco II would evolve into the Ford Explorer. 

Fourth Generation (1987-1991)

Bronco enthusiasts are fond of the fourth generation. While it featured the same chassis as the third generation, it’s exterior aesthetic and cabin style were overhauled. It had a more nuanced look. In fact, the Silver Anniversary Edition of the fourth gen was the first to offer leather seating, mixing up the brawny utilitarian style of an off-road SUV with a dash of refinement. 

Fifth Generation (1992-1996)

The fifth generation was largely a continuation of the classic Ford Bronco from the fourth generation. It did include a few cabin updates and some better safety features. Also, the removable hard-top feature was discontinued. 

Sixth Generation (2021 -) 

In 2021, after 25 years of slumber, the Ford Bronco was reintroduced as a mid-size SUV with a 2.3L turbocharged EcoBoost® inline-four engine. The new Bronco includes an independent suspension and body-on-frame construction for optimized off-roading. Not only does it reintroduce the detachable roof, but it allows you to easily take off the side doors for that classic open-air feel when you’re riding the trails. 

Test Drive the New Ford Bronco Near Norwalk

You’ve read about early Ford Bronco history. Now, it’s time to test drive the latest classic Ford Bronco at DeYarman Ford in Indianola. Just give us a call at 515-690-4382 to book your test drive. And don’t forget to explore our Ford research guides for other help articles, including our overview of the new Ford Maverick


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