Hot as a pistol today, the 1966-70 Bronco got a lot of press- a lot of kudos – but, surprisingly, not a huge amount of sales. In the initial years of production 1966-70, total Broncos were 94,253 or less than 19 thousand per year- at a time when Mustang averaged close to 500,000. So why the huge following? We’ll try to answer that!
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1966 – 1970 Bronco
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The One That Started It All!
1966 – 1970 Bronco
Today, if you mention Bronco to a car nut, they’ll rave about the original and how it took the country by storm. But did it really? The numbers say “NO” but the legend says “YES”. Bronco sold about 10% of the lowly Plymouth Barracuda in 1966, and we hardly talk about the 1966 Barracuda today.
So why the enthusiasm? Why the legend? Why did the new car come back to such acclaim? Let’s find out . . .
Off-Road racing built Bronco’s image – but did little to increase sales.
It did keep the brand in front of the public, however.
Selling the Bronco
Once sales leveled off, Ford realized that they needed to inject some “spice” into their advertising, but what more could be said about the little versatile utility and off road vehicle? The answer came quickly enough – it’s light , it’s got V-8 power available, and it’s tough – let’s go off-road racing!
In late 1965, race car builder Bill Stroppe put together a group of Broncos and a team specifically for long-distance off-road competition. He partnered with Holman-Moody, Ford’s go-to race shop. Stroppe’s Broncos competed in the Mint 1968 and later 400, Baja 500, and Mexican 1000 (later named the Baja 1000). From 1968-72 Bronco won four of the five Baja 1000 races.
A Road Test of the
1966 Ford Bronco
Ford released the Bronco early in the 1965 model year as a 1966 model. All the major magazines tested the car, one such being Car Life, in September 1965,
Notable in their evaluation of the car were these points:
General: “. . . the bronco makes a pleasant runabout with plenty of stamina for bashing about the bush.”
Interior. “Although the bench front seat is standard, an option allow for the installation of Mustang-like front seats . . .” “As might be expected from the Mustang-maker, this new vehicle has a great deal of custom tailoring which can be specified.”
Handling: “Ford’s Bronco growls through the rough mountainside brush even where solid ground is rare .”
You can get more details on the 1966 Ford Bronco from the September 1965 issue of Motor Trend Magazine HERE.