Some have suggested that the Bronco's demise was hastened by the fallout from the O.J. trial.

Twenty years ago today, ex-NFL linebacker Al "A.C." Cowlings drove his friend and onetime running back Orenthal James "O.J." Simpson on a parade lap of the Los Angeles highway system and onto an ignoble page of the history books. If you're in your late 20s or older, or a fastidious young student of 1990s American history, you're absolutely aware that Al and O.J.'s steed for the 'chase' was a white Ford Bronco. The white Ford Bronco, even.

The 1993 model-year SUV was only three years removed from the end of a 30-year run for the nameplate, one that's been embossed onto pop culture from June 17, 1994 forward. I remember it sourly, as one of the basketball fans that was forced to watch the NBA finals in a tiny box in the corner of a 27-inch set while NBC 's Tom Brokaw followed some 20 police cars, following the Bronco, at about 35 miles per hour. Oh, and in standard definition no less... the '90s were terrible.

The fallout from The Chase (sorry, NASCAR) is evident from even a cursory investigation, and reaches closer to the present than you might expect. In addition to dominating the headlines from that day in June to the contentious verdict in the fall of 1995, the chase inspired an instantiation of the ESPN documentary series 30 For 30, echoed into countless late-night and sitcom punch lines, and inadvertently helping to blight populate our TV screens with the Kardashian clan (Robert Kardashian was part of The Juice's star legal team). Some have even suggested that the Bronco's demise was hastened by the fallout from the O.J. trial – though Ford talking heads have (wisely) denied that the two had any concurrence... more on that in a bit.

Motorists Wave At O.J. Simpson During Police Freeway Pursuit

Before A.C. ever got his hands on his monochrome fifth-generation model, the Bronco line had delivered dutiful service for Ford. Conceived of as a rough-and-tumble Jeep rival for The Blue Oval in the mid-1960s, the two-door Bronco remained Ford's primary ORV offering until it was killed off in 1997. Larger and more feature-laden than ever at that point, it was apparently Ford's need for a still bigger SUV, and one with family-friendly four doors, that saw its Expedition scion take over for the fat part of the SUV boom in the late '90s and early aughts.

Between the Raptor precedent and the available Troller guts, a Bronco redux is at least a possibility for Ford, right?

With Escape, Edge, Explorer and Expedition currently providing Ford shoppers a fair range of utility options, the current lineup seems to lack only something butch and off-road minded for rounding out. There's enough interest in a Raptor-type SUV that the aftermarket has bitten, at any rate – why not something direct from the factory?

And, of course, the recent announcement that Ford subsidiary brand Troller would be building its diesel-burning T4 for the South American market, has stoked the flames of Bronco interest for a lot of American onlookers. That truck, seen above with a playful Autoblog application of the staff-favorite Bronco 'Free Wheeling' sunset stripes, actually seems to make good on the substantial promise first offered by the Bronco Concept at the 2004 New York Auto Show.

So, between the improving market, the Raptor precedent and the available Troller guts, a Bronco redux is at least a possibility for Ford, right? Well, not so much, really.

For starters, as much as we might want a Troller-based product to underpin a new North American product, Ford Product Communications Manager for Utility Vehicles, Mark Schirmer, tells Autoblog that there are no common architectures between the T4 and any current Ford vehicles. Troller was purchased by Ford in 2007, but has not yet been enveloped by the One Ford umbrella. That means the entirety of the T4 would have to be certified for our roads and our safety standards, making a T4-to-Bronco conversion massively expensive.

What's more, without a Troller donor waiting in the Brazilian wings, there's not really a product in Ford's current portfolio that makes sense for a Raptor-like conversion; nothing that could credibly be butched up with off-road parts and made worthy of the historical nameplate. From Escape up through Explorer, Ford's crop of utility vehicles fall decidedly in the unibody-crossover camp. The only suitable platform for an ORV-ready Bronco, especially one with two doors, would be the F-150, for which the Raptor treatment is now the precedent for off-roading variants.

We're told that the Bronco name does still have a lot of currency amongst Ford executives, but the lack of a go-to, easy-to-execute business case for the model would appear to land it in the daydream category. "You can't do everything," said Schirmer.

So A.C.'s white Bronco may not have a spiritual successor under clandestine production right now (though apparently, you can rent the original for private engagements if you dare), but it's best to never say never, I think. As it turns out, Ford saw a massive 25-percent bump in sales of the Bronco from the 1993 model year to the Juice-fueled 1994 model – from 29,729 units up to 37,367. (For what it's worth: neither were close to Bronco's record 82K-unit year of 1978.) We'll almost certainly not be the only media outlet that will publish a Bronco story on today's 20th Anniversary, perhaps a second, bigger O.J. bump will be enough to get Ford over the hump?

Probably not. For now Troller T4 dreams and historical Bronco photos will have to do. Enjoy both here, and feel free to share your own "I remember where I was..." O.J. story, or your favorite Bronco memory, in Comments.


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  • 76 Comments
      ffforte
      • 6 Months Ago
      Best Bronco TV punchline: (Arrested Development) George Sr. is at the Ford Dealership the salesman tells him that the Bronco has been discontinued to try to shed the whole "fugitive on the run" image. The salesman tells him we now sell the Escape.
      Taylor DeCastro
      • 6 Months Ago
      My first automobile was a 95 Bronco XLT...in white, with the spare tire on the gate. His name was O.J., because then stupid 16-year-old. It's been nearly 8 years since I traded it in, and while I may be in my early 30's, I'm going to say that it was the worst decision of my life. That truck was amazing. You could run that thing head first into a tree, and it would thank you for it, and politely ask you to do it again because it was "fun." The cargo space alone would make a U-Haul blush. With the back seats folded down, I moved into and out of college in one trip (...nearly 5 years later). Incredibly durable, fun and easy to work on, and nothing less than it's own pop-culture icon, the last generation Bronco is something I will always cherish. Here's hoping to Ford recreating a bit of former magic down the 405s in the future.
      Basil Exposition
      • 6 Months Ago
      My first car was 1986 two-tone Bronco II Eddie Bauer edition. Awesome little truck, I miss it terribly.
        NightFlight
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Basil Exposition
        My best friend had the exact same year, two tone, green primary and tan secondary. That thing was awesome.
      Drizzy
      • 6 Months Ago
      Hey Seyth, I think you missed an opportunity to mention the robust & refined Icon Bronco. That thing is amazing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4H7H9L0lJQ
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Drizzy
        Yeah, the Icon truck didn't really fit into the OJ Chase/What's Ford up to? storyline, but there's no question that it is 100% rad. Thanks for the reminder, and thanks for reading. -Seyth
      psarquis
      • 6 Months Ago
      Great article! I'd still rather have a Wrangler, especially if they ultimately offer a diesel version.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @psarquis
        Thanks! -Seyth
      SquareFour
      • 6 Months Ago
      There're two directions Ford can take to bring a Bronco back to market right now: 1). Base it off the Raptor. Next-gen or current generation. Matter of fact, basing it on the current Raptor would make a sense from a cost standpoint since all the mechanical development is done. Just take the Raptor's chassis (preferably with a regular cab F-150 wheelbase) and slap an SUV body on it. Voila! Best part is, it wouldn't be stepping on the toes of the Expedition, Explorer, Edge, etc because it would only be available as a 2-door, hard-core off-roader. 2). This is the one I'd really like to see. Bring the global Ranger over (they should get back into the smaller pickup market anyway) and base a Bronco off of that. This would give them a smaller, tidier Bronco that can be sold at a lower pricepoint and compete directly with the Wrangler.
      Gabbo
      • 6 Months Ago
      You guys had it right the first time - anything to do with hoisting "The Kardashians" into the national spotlight is a blight on this great nation. In fact, calling it "a blight" is being downright charitable.
      11fiveoh
      • 6 Months Ago
      I think there's market for REAL suv's, even if most are mall crawlers. I'd like for ford to come out with a new bronco, as long as it doesnt look like those renders..
        speterjr
        • 6 Months Ago
        @11fiveoh
        With the exception of the Wrangler, the few real SUV's currently left on the North American market cost "north" of $80,000. And who is going to take such an expensive vehicle out to get banged and muddied up off road? Perhaps, with today's suburban sprawl, finding unpaved trails in nature, and subsequently the vehicles on which to drive them, has become a luxury. In Brazil, and much of South America, on the other hand, perhaps this is not so much the issue, despite the rapid growth of their economies.
      KO
      • 6 Months Ago
      Ah, yes. That was a Friday, and I was moving out of my college dorm. My neighbor hadn't packed his (B&W) TV yet, so we'd peer in on occasion to see what was going on, seeing if they'd turn around and head back this way (the chase started just a couple miles away). In subsequent years, people around here have put chase-related vanity plates on white Broncos, including one I saw that read '2 ESCAPE'
      360_AD
      • 6 Months Ago
      Build it and say no more: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FogjfYyopnQ/TZoqKmYeMAI/AAAAAAAAHP4/LQ6sxfHC31M/s1600/Ford-Bronco_Concept_2004_1280x960_wallpaper_04.jpg
      Chris
      • 6 Months Ago
      I remember watching the slow speed chase on tv with my dad, and him trying to explain to me who OJ Simpson was. Little did I know, it'd be the only news people cared about for the next 2 years, with television and radio media outlets talking about it and OJ and Nichole's life and turbulent marriage constantly, and it being on the cover of every magazine. Even the kids at my school had a jingle about it. It was something to the effect of "OJ!! did you murder your wife? OJ!! where'd you bury the knife?" Interesting to here of what became of his Bronco as I've always wondered what happened to it. I wouldn't mind one day seeing it at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, next to another notorious Ford, the Lincoln Continental JFK was riding in when he was assassinated. Just don't let David Hasselfoff near it.
      Skean
      • 6 Months Ago
      I owned a 93, sold it to a guy in Montana, and still miss it, so I do hope to see a new one done right. I think Ford is close to hitting on all cylinders right now so it would be welcomed in my garage.
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