The Ford Bronco was introduced in 1966 and had five distinct generations. The two-door sport utility vehicle was introduced as a challenge to the four-wheel drive compact SUVs and later evolved into a full-size model built on a Ford truck chassis to compete with the Chevrolet Blazer, which had similarly evolved. The Ford Bronco design was created by Donald Frey, who also created the design for the Ford Mustang. However, critics say the Bronco design was more original, as it had a unique frame, suspension and body.
Early Ford Broncos were off-road vehicles designed to primarily compete with Jeep CJ models. While impractical for towing, the Bronco offered a 34-foot turning circle, anti-dive geometry (useful for snow plowing) and a simple and economic style, with flat windows and a simple box-section ladder frame. The front axle was located by radius arms and a lateral track bar, while the rear axle was more conventionally designed using leaf springs.
The later Ford Bronco, redesigned in 1978, was based on a shortened F-100 pickup. The 1978 models offered either full-time four-wheel drive with a chain driven transfer case or part-time four-wheel drive with a gear-driven transfer case. In 1980, fuel economy jumped to the top of the priority list and a straight six engine was offered. Also in 1980, cosmetic, powertrain and suspension changes were implemented. In 1987, the new aero style body arrived, and, by 1988, all Ford Broncos offered electronic fuel injection.
Later versions changed with the F-Series pickups. In 1992, safety became a priority and the Bronco included front crumple zones, rear shoulder belts and, after 1994, driver side airbags were included. In terms of style, maroon and blue leather seats were introduced as options in 1992, and Eddie Bauers offered vented front bumpers, lighted sun visors and a dimming rear view mirror. The last Bronco built left the assembly line on June 12, 1996, at the Ford Truck plant in Michigan. The four-door Ford Expedition replaced the Bronco in an attempt to compete with the Chevrolet Tahoe.
While not a recipient of many awards, the Ford Bronco became notorious following the well-publicized chase involving O.J. Simpson, who was a passenger in a 1993 White Ford Bronco owned and operated by Al Cowlings. The duo attempted to avoid the Los Angeles Police Department, who wanted Simpson for questioning in the murders of his ex-wife and her friend. The low-speed chase was jokingly considered the most documented ride since that of Paul Revere
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