Classic Ford Broncos are an extremely desirable collectible vehicle. The market has exponentially increased in value over the years as well. A first-generation Bronco can cost upwards of $70,000, and it's not unusual to find nice specimens in the six-figure range. Classic Bronco restoration is also at an all-time high as people try to find "beaters" to fix up. Why is the classic Ford Bronco so popular?
Part of it is the unique short SUV body style. Aside from the Jeep Wrangler, there haven't been too many other options for this type of SUV in recent years. Now that Ford is making the Bronco again, there is even more interest in the 1966 to 1977 Bronco models as well as later models.
The first generation of Bronco was made between 1966 and 1977. It's considered one of the first SUVs ever, and the first compact SUV for the Ford brand. When the Bronco came on the market, its main competitors were the Jeep CJ and International Harvester Scout, which were also compact SUVs. The idea was to get the short, compact build of a car with a more truck-like suspension and design. The goal was a utilitarian, stripped-down vehicle ready for adventure. The early base Broncos were sold as roadsters without a roof or doors.
The short wheelbase of the Bronco made it supremely maneuverable and easy to drive around town. The short wheelbase also made it a natural fit for off-road adventures like rock-crawling. Ford initially marketed the Bronco as a 4WD sports car, and the Bronco participated in various off-road races like the Baja 1000.
Now that the new Bronco family is out and being heavily promoted by Ford, it's naturally turned heads towards the classic models. There's always a niche of auto enthusiasts who prefer older vehicles and reject the plethora of modern niceties on brand new vehicles. The other factor is that vintage SUVs have been one of the strongest categories in automotive enthusiast and collector markets for several years now. Even though many people look first at the debut generation of the Bronco, those same people often turn towards the later generations when they realize they can't afford the oldest ones. This leads to a market boom across all generations.
If you're thinking about finding a classic Bronco, then it's important to consider several factors as shopping for a popular classic like the Ford Bronco can be harder than it looks.
It's important to realize that money can go fast on a classic vehicle. An early vehicle like the classic Bronco will be very different from your modern daily driver. Broncos from the first generation were produced over half a century ago, which means the parts it was built with are also that old. These vehicles weren't designed to be easy daily drivers by modern standards. Restoring a classic Bronco will almost always take a lot of time and money, especially if you want to drive it a lot.
The main value of a classic Bronco is the condition of its body and frame. Rust and dents can cost a lot to repair. That's why many people who search for vintage vehicles like the Bronco look for specimens outside of the Rust Belt. Your best option is to look for vehicles that have spent their lives in the Southwest or on the West Coast. Rust is one of the biggest issues for old vehicles, so make sure to check your prospective Bronco thoroughly for body and frame rust.
You may not realize that the seating in a vintage vehicle like the Bronco was very different from modern vehicles. Stock seats in the Bronco sit quite high, which can make it uncomfortable for anyone over six feet tall. The seats also do not have rear headrests, and they don't recline or slide back and forth. The vintage Bronco won't come with airbags or shoulder-mount seatbelts either. In other words, unless your prospective Bronco has already been modified, you'll likely want to prepare to add better seats and safer seatbelts.
Back when the Bronco was first built, there weren't any high-speed freeways and interstates. The first generation of Bronco had a transmission with only three gears and could only hit about 60 MPH. If you plan to drive your Bronco on modern freeways and go over 60 MPH, you will need to replace the stock transmission.
There are two main options for buying a vintage Bronco. This mainly refers to the first generation of Bronco as it tends to be a little easier to get some of the later generations. The first option is to buy one that's already been modified with the upgrades listed above as well as potential upgrades above and beyond the basics. The second option is to buy one that's stock and do it yourself. As you might expect, there are pros and cons to both.
The main con to buying a stock Bronco is that upgrading and restoring a classic vehicle is expensive and time-consuming. The pro is that you can buy one in virtually any condition as long as the "bones" are solid. You can also upgrade it and restore it to your preferences. For the enthusiast, this is often the preference for classic Ford Bronco restoration.
The cons for buying an already-built Bronco are mainly the price and the fact that it will be built to someone else's preference. As previously mentioned, a restored first-generation Bronco can pack a big price tag. The pro is that you get a vehicle that is ready to drive and likely in tip-top shape.
Whatever your choice in buying a classic Bronco, make sure to check out Bronco Graveyard for all the Bronco engine parts, Bronco restoration parts, upgrades like classic Bronco lift kits, and anything else you need to repair or restore a classic Bronco.