Ford Bronco history — a walkthrough with Ford archivist Ted Ryan

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With Ford officially confirming that Bronco will be an entire sub-brand, much the way Prius developed into one for Toyota, the Blue Oval is doubling down on the legacy of its iconic nameplate. To accompany Monday’s announcement, Ford has been trumpeting the Bronco’s place in America’s automotive history and in the larger cultural fabric of the nation. 

In this video, we join Ford Archives and Heritage Brand Manager Ted Ryan as he shows off decades of Bronco history from Ford’s archives. From memos and progress reports to models and paint samples, Ryan and the rest of Ford’s historians are sitting on a treasure trove of Bronco nostalgia. 

Anybody who harbors a fascination for automotive history will geek out on some of Ryan’s finds, from secret internal memos to design mockups and even a first-gen Bronco finished in Diamond Blue. One of the earliest items documenting the Bronco’s genesis is a 1963 memo referring to the Bronco program as “G.O.A.T.,” for “Goes Over Any Terrain.” In February 1964, Lee Iacocca approved the project, which was henceforth called Bronco. 

But despite this internal project name, Bronco wasn’t “Bronco” quite yet. Several names were floated for the new 4×4, Ryan says, including a few familiar ones. Explorer, Trail Blazer and, yes, even Wrangler were all in contention. Others on the short list included Sprint, Rustler, Caballero and Bravo. 

Ryan’s walkthrough is far from comprehensive, but it touches on many facets of the Bronco’s conception, development, impact on American culture and, ultimately, its demise in the 1990s as Americans clamored for larger, family-friendlier SUVs with more doors and cupholders.

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Saurabh Shukla

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