At Last, Ford Reveals Bronco Brand And 3 'Built Wild' Broncos
Following months of teasing stories and enticing spy shots, Ford has at last unveiled the new Bronco brand. The new 4X4 brand features a two-door, a brand-new four-door, and a smaller Bronco Sport model.
Ford Reveals ‘Built Wild’ Broncos
The new brand has kicked off as the "new family of Built Wild™ SUVs. The automaker notes that the new brand will be feeding off-road driving schools and will feature a unique community for owner and enthusiast engagement.
The official kickoff will come next week when Ford will use the Disney network channels, National Geographic, ESPN, and ABC. It also marks the opening of the Bronco reservation system. Ford ramped its assembly slowly due as as I wrote about here.
According to the maker, Ford engineers Broncos to deliver thrilling and confident off-road experiences that build on the original 1966 Bronco Sport. It is the only domestic brand of SUVs with standard 4x4.
Bronco goes back more than 50 years. The original went on the market in 1966 as the Bronco Sport. You still see them on the road today because they are tough. The original Bronco Sport was an SUV that earned an excellent reputation in its nearly 30 years on the market. The original Bronco was a two-door, the only two-door SUV on the market. It remained on sale until 1996.
Ford Reveals Broncos, Some History
For years, the Bronco challenged the Chevy K-5 in the full-sized market. The Bronco's platform was the Ford pickup, the F-100, and later the F-150. From its inception, the Bronco through six generations. The new model two-door represents the seventh generation.
Today's new Broncos have a great heritage. Not only are they using the original 1966 Bronco DNA and the SUV's racing heritage, but they are also adding ingenious new updatable technologies and adventure-ready attributes so that today's outdoor enthusiast has the most extensive selection of features available.
Jim Farley, Ford CEO, said the Bronco "gave rise to the run and versatile off-road style SUV in 1966, becoming the first enjoyable sport utility vehicle for those who wanted to live, work, and play outdoors. Like original, Ford engineered the Bronco brand to take you to fantastic places, with the capability to deliver confidence on any terrain."
Ford Reveals ‘Built Wild’ Principles
For the Bronco brand and its all-new two-door, four-door, and Sport models to be great off-road vehicles, all three had to deliver on the brand's three "Built Wild" principles:
- Built Wild Extreme Durability Testing – These elevated Bronco torture tests ensure toughness across thousands of lab, proving ground and extreme real-world challenges in the toughest and harshest climates
- Built Wild Capability – Confidence to go over any terrain (GOAT), provided by standard 4x4 and an exclusive terrain management system, plus unique Bronco-variant architectures with class-leading levels of capability and suspension technology
- Built Wild Innovative Design – Broncos are the future of off-roading and deliver off-road ingenuity, new design innovations coupled with heritage-inspired DNA, plus new-levels of personalization that can flatter the novice and challenge the expert adventure seeker
Ford's off-road SUV expertise can be traced to the Second World War when the automaker was part of a government competition to build rugged carry-all utilities for GIs on the battlefield. Ford's entry in the competition was the GP.
Ford Reveals More History
Soldiers returning home bought Army surplus GPs for work and play, but they were too small and uncomfortable for civilian life. So Ford researched the problem in the 1960s, finding what they believed to be an answer. Ford used the research to develop a more refined, spacious yet durable off-road vehicle to meet this need – the original Bronco two-door.
Nicknamed the GOAT. (Goes Anywhere Over Any Terrain) by Don Frey, the Ford product manager who championed both Mustang and the Bronco nameplates and challenged engineering teams to deliver "go anywhere roadability." As an agile, sports-oriented off-road 4X4, Ford dubbed the original Bronco "a completely new line of sports utility-vehicles" at its reveal Aug. 11, 1965. – the first reference to SUVs from an American manufacturer.
Early Broncos had a rugged body-on-frame design with short front and rear overhangs, high ground clearance, and a short wheelbase for maximum off-road capability. Bronco's toughness and agility at high-speed enabled off-road racers like Rod Hall and Larry Minor to capture an overall win in the grueling 1969 Baja 1000 – a victory that no other production 4X4 has replicated in 50 years.
"Rugged vehicles are in our heritage, and we see strong growth opportunities with this ever-more popular segment," said Kumar Galhotra, Ford president, Americas, and International Markets Group. "The Bronco brand meets that need by creating a family of truly capable off-roaders to take our customers further into the wild. We've leveraged extensive off-road experience form vehicles like our F-150 Raptor to ensure that every Bronco delivers the 'Built Wild' toughness and durability our customers expect."
Bronco holds a special place in popular culture and has been featured in more than 1,200 films and 200 songs. Since Ford ended production in 1996, Broncos have continued to grow in popularity with collectors and enthusiasts. With the January 2017 announcement of the return of the Bronco, valuations have skyrocketed, according to Barrett=Jackson, with the average first-generation Bronco sale price nearly doubling from $39,763 to $74,820 in just more than three years. The Hagerty Valuation Guide ranks 1966-77 Broncos as among the highest vehicle price increases of all collectible SUVs over the past three years, a 75.8 percent gain.
Bronco Owners Want Authenticity
Mark Grueber, Ford U.S. Consumer Marketing Manager, said that Bronco delivers what enthusiasts want, "authenticity." Making Bronco "Ford's distinct outdoor brand includes a major network of experiences, community, and engagement that extends far beyond ownership of Bronco and Bronco Sport models."
So, what are some of the major experiences that owners may consider authentic?
- Bronco Off-Roadeos – four off-roading and outdoor adventure playgrounds build for all skill levels with experiences designed to build confidence and inspire Bronco owners to get out into the wild. Ford will introduce the Roadeos next year.
- Connecting current and future Bronco owners as well as off-road fans and outdoor enthusiasts, Bronco Nation – www.thebronconation.com – an independent online community Bronco or Bronco Sport owners
- Ford is ramping up all-new Bronco merchandise. From Bronco gear to remote control cars, Ford-licensed Bronco merchandise is available at www.amazon.com/fordbronco. In an interesting switch, Ford will donate a portion of the proceeds for the many gifts, novelties, collectibles, and apparel to the Bronco brand's stewardship efforts.
Official Vehicle of Hammers Series
Meantime, the Bronco brand continues to add to its off-road racing legacy as Official Vehicle of the King of Hammers, ULTR4 Series. Bronco is also the official SUV of SCORE-International – one of the many events that prove the vehicle's capability and connecting it with Bronco brand influencers.
Marc Stern has been an auto writer since 1971. It was a position that filled two boyhood dreams: One was that I would write, and two that I write about cars. When I took over as my newspaper's auto editor, I began a 32-year career as an automotive columnist. There isn't much on four wheels that I haven't driven or reviewed. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. Today, I am the Ford F150 reporter for Torque News. I write how-to and help columns for online sites such as Fixya.com and others. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Most of Marc's stories can be found at Torque News Ford coverage. Check back again and search for Torque News Ford F-150 news for more F-150 truck news coverage.