- bronco is not just a returning suv model for ford. no, it's a complete branding experience that will encompass everything from dedicated off-roading venues to a bronco nation online forum.
- buying a bronco or a bronco sport badlands will earn you instruction at one of the four "off-roadeo" off-road parks that ford is building around the country.
- $100 deposits are being accepted starting on july 13, the date the 2021 ford bronco will be revealed.
in the leadup to the 2021 ford bronco reveal on july 13, ford is dribbling out some advance information about its intentions for the reborn suv. and from what we gather, the people at ford don't just want you to buy a bronco. they want you to live and breathe bronco, eat and sleep it, get that bucking-equine logo tattooed across your back. bronco lyfe 4evr! this isn’t just a 4x4. it’ll be a crucial part of your identity, so they hope.
as part of the mythmaking, ford is busy rebuilding the bronco's backstory like it was a 5.8-liter windsor with 250,000 miles on it. for instance, did you think the bronco was born in the 1960s? according to the new statement released by ford, "ford’s off-road suv expertise traces back to world war ii." let’s get limbered up, because this is a bit of a stretch.
back in the 1940s, the little 4x4 that we think of as the ur-jeep was the "gp"—for general purpose—versions of which were built under contract by both willys-overland and ford, from an american bantam design. after the war, willys immediately adapted the design for a civilian version, the cj ("civilian jeep") and began production on the machine that evolved into today's wrangler.
in ford's narrative, "gis returning home bought gps for work and play, but they were too small and uncomfortable for civilian life . . . so ford developed a more refined, spacious yet durable off-road vehicle to meet this need—bronco." the bronco arrived for the 1966 model year, so it’s a bit rich to claim that ford thought it over for two decades, then applied its 1940s military learnings to a v-8–powered consumer vehicle. what ford can claim, plausibly, is that it invented jeep's vertical slotted grille, a design that's now trademarked and jealously guarded. you're welcome, fiat chrysler.
speaking of jeep, ford clearly wants to challenge the wrangler not just on looks or capability, but in every facet of its existence. you know how wranglers are "trail rated"? broncos will be "built wild." basically, a built wild vehicle is always a 4x4 and gets extra off-road durability testing (as at johnson valley in california, where the bronco is now the official vehicle of the king of the hammers off-road race). the implication is that ford won’t be throwing built wild badges on all-wheel-drive escapes. however, in a presentation released late last night, there's mention of the bronco sport badlands, suggesting that the baby bronco will offer a particular off-road-oriented trim, along the lines of jeep's trailhawk models.
speaking of the bronco sport badlands, buying one of those or the bronco will earn you a day at one of four off-road parks ford is building around the country. dubbed off-roadeos, these are places where broncos can roam free and engage in off-road shenanigans and bronco owners can get some off-road instruction. ford didn’t offer many specifics on these, but the concept sounds like a more rootin' tootin' version of the land rover experience centers—outdoorsy fun, occasional winching required. locations to be announced, but the four sites will be geographically spread out and offer differing terrain. a ford presentation seems to show the locations biased toward the west, with one in the southwest desert, one in the rockies and one in texas, with the fourth in the northeast. southerners, apparently, can be trusted to find off-road trouble all on their own.
welcome to bronco nation
finally, ford is promoting (but not running) the bronco nation forum. and, of course, selling bronco merch. and taking reservations—what would a new-car launch be without reservations? ($100, beginning july 13.) fired up yet? we are. because whether you think the bronco was born in 1941 or 1966, there’s another date that’s indisputable: 1996. that’s the last year of the last bronco. and now, after 24 years, we’ve only got one more week to wait.