The original Ford Bronco hasn’t quite piqued the interest of historic 4×4 collectors in the same way as the two-door Range Rover Classic or Toyota FJ40, this is likely due to the fact that they’re not seen as being particularly exotic or rare – although their numbers have certainly dwindled significantly since their initial production thanks to salted roads and their popularity with the American 4×4 modding community.
The first plans for the Bronco began to develop on the desk of Donald N. Frey in the mid-1960s – the same man who developed the original Ford Mustang, and it was pushed through into production by Lee Iacocca, again mirroring the process taken by the pony car.
Ford wanted the smaller, lighter Bronco in its line-up to compete with the Jeep CJ and the International Harvester Scout – these were the first generation of American SUVs and it’s highly unlikely that anyone at Ford or any of the major automakers could have had any idea how important these 4x4s would become in future decades.
The basic layout of the Bronco was simple, every glass panel was dead-flat, the two doors were identical except for holes cut to install handles and trim pieces, the chassis was a box-section ladder, and the axles and brakes were borrowed from the Ford F-100 pick-up truck. The stock engine offered from the factory was the simple and reliable Ford 170 cubic inch (2.8 litre) straight-6 but popular optional upgrade was the 302 cubic inch OHV V8 engine, with a single 2-barrel carburettor and 140bhp at 3,800 rpm.
The 1976 Ford Bronco Ranger you see here is fitted with that optional V8, as well as air-conditioning, and the Cruise-o-Matic Automatic Transmission. It’s being offered in original, unrestored condition with no serious rust or corrosion, and no sign of the modifications that tend to kill resale value. Bonhams are estimating that it’ll sell for between $20,000 USD and $25,000 USD when it rolls across the auction block with them on the 5th of June, and I suspect that we won’t see these early SUVs being offered at this price point for very much longer – as the classic 4×4 becomes more and more desirable.
If you’d like to read more about this Bronco or register to bid, you can click here to visit Bonhams.