The History of the Early Ford Bronco
The Ford Bronco was introduced to the public in August of 1965 to compete against Jeep's CJ-5and International Harvester's Scout in the burgeoning recreational four wheel drive vehicle market. The first Broncos were very spartan without options such as power steering and an automatic transmission. The first models were available only with a 105 hp 170 ci six cylinder derived from Ford's Falcon lineup. The only available transmission was Ford's 3.03 three speed manual with a column mounted shifter. Transmission ratios behind the six cylinder were: 3.41:1 first, 1.86:1 second,and 1:1 third. When the 289 V8 option was introduced in March 1966, the three speed manual behind it had ratios of: 2.99:1 first, 1.46 second,and 1:1 third. The transfer case was a Bronco specific Dana 20 with a low range ratio of 2.46:1. Unique to the models was a tall shifter with a shift pattern matching that of the T-handle shifter, but with a J- handle style ball mounted on top. Most '66s also had rear shock absorbers that angled forward in front of the axle with stud mounts at the top instead of the later rear-canted eye mount shocks. The Bronco, with a 92 inch wheelbase was offered in wagon, half cab, and roadster configurations. The roadster option was not very popular and was discontinued after 1968. Standard brakes were 11 x 2" front drums and 10 x 2.5" drums on the rear on the small bearing(2780 lb.) axle and 11 x 1.75" drums on the large bearing(3300 lb.) axle. All Broncos employed a Ford 9" rear axle and until 1971, a Dana 30 front axle rated at 2,500 lb. Axle ratios were 3.50:1, 4.11:1 and 4.57:1(6 cyl. only). The standard gas tank held 14.5 gallon with an optional 11.5 gallon second tank available. Options for '66 (including dealer installed accessories) included: Warn free wheeling hubs, snow plow kits, winches, tachometers, Air Lift front auxiliary springs, trailer hitches, tow hooks, etc. Most of the options and many others were included through the Bronco's twelve year run. Production for the 1966 year totaled 18,200 units.
The Sport Package was introduced in 1967. This package included bright finished horn ring, windshield drip, head and tail lamp bezels, side window frames, instrument panel trim and tailgate handle, cigar lighter, chrome-plated grille, bumpers and front guards, red die cast F-O-R-D letters appliqued to the grille, and 15" wheel covers. A bright trimmed hardboard headlining and vinyl floor mat were also added to the Sport Wagon. A dual master cylinder with a split hydraulic system and self-adjusting brakes was also new. Back-up lights were now standard and an 11.5 gallon auxiliary fuel tank option was available. 16,100 Broncos were built in 1967.
Bumpers with curved ends and side marker reflectors immediately distinguished the 1968 models from their predecessors. Locking front hubs, new inside door handles and "soft" window crank knobs were other new options. This was also the last year for the 289 V8 and the roadster option. 1968 production was 15,700 trucks.
1969 was a big year for the Bronco with production jumping to 19,200 units. The 302 V8 replaced the 289 V8. Two speed electric windshield wipers replaced the vacuum units several months into the production run. Amber lensed parking lights replaced the previously used white lens. The Sport models now had aluminum door panel trim, pleated parchment interior, and a rear floor mat when the rear seat was ordered. Some sources say the removable top feature was discontinued, although we enthusiasts know better! The steering stabilizer became a standard feature along with improvements in NVH.
Repositioned side marker lights and reflectors were the most obvious change to the 1970 Broncos. The Sport Bronco became a model rather than an option package. 1970 also saw the first application of evaporative emissions recovery systems with gas tanks on models so equipped losing capacity to 12.7 gallons and 10.3 gallons in the main and auxiliary tanks respectively. 18,500 Broncos were built in 1970.
The stout Dana 44 became the standard Bronco front axle early in the 1971 production year, replacing the weaker Dana 30. New options included a remote control left hand outside mirror, a new headliner for the pickup, and a heavy duty radiator. The special edition Baja Bronco by Bill Stroppe and Associates was also introduced this year. Stroppe took a Bronco wagon and added a roll bar, dual shocks front and rear, Gates Commando tires, fender flares, larger tires, rubberized steering wheel, bumper braces, power steering, automatic transmission, special nameplate, and red,white, blue, and black special order paint. A total of approximately 650 Baja Broncos were produced between 1971-1974. 18,700 Broncos rolled off the assembly line in 1971.
1972 was the last full year for the T-handle transfer case shifter and the '302' emblem disappeared from the front fenders of V8 Broncos. This was also the last year for the beloved half cab. The Ranger trim package was introduced at mid-year and consisted of new stripes, argent grille, color-keyed pile front and rear carpet, deluxe wheelcovers, woodgrained door trim panels, 'Ranger' tire cover, cloth-inserted bucket seats and a fiberboard headliner. Gas tank size continued to shrink with the auxiliary tank now holding 7.5 gallons. 1972 Bronco production totaled 18,300.
When the Bronco was introduced in the mid-sixties, its main competition was the Scout 800 and the Jeep CJ-5, both spartan vehicles to say the least. By the early seventies, with the introduction of the Chevrolet Blazer and the Scout II, it became painfully obvious that the Bronco was beginning to fall behind the competition. In 1973, Ford finally answered the calls for modernization by introducing the C-4 automatic transmission option and optional power steering. The C-4 had ratios of 2.46:1 low, 1.46 second, and 1:1 third. The power steering box was a Saginaw unit with 5.3 turns lock-to-lock. The base engine was bumped from 170 to 200 cubic inches. The J-handle transfer case shifter was introduced shortly after the model year began and the low range transfer case ratio became 2.34:1. These changes helped push early Bronco sales to their second best year ever: 26,300.
By 1974, the 200 c.i.d. six cylinder and 4.11 axles were no longer available in California. A new emissions package was also introduced for California Broncos. Some subtle changes were made mid-year to the J-handle shifter mechanism in response to complaints of tough shifting. The transmission selector was lighted starting in '74. 21,400 Broncos rolled off the assembly line in 1974.
Unleaded fuel engines and catalytic converters were the new items added to the Bronco in 1975 in the face of increasingly strict emissions requirements. Some sources also say that the cam timing on '75 engines was retarded to help with emissions as well. Sport and Ranger models received the F-Series steering wheel for the year. GVWs? and ride heights were revised. Among the new options was an 800 watt engine block heater for folks in cold climates. Bronco production shrunk to its lowest ever in 1975 with just 13,200 trucks produced.
The bicentennial year brought several key improvements to Ford's sport utility, most notably the addition of long overdue power assisted front disc brakes. The rear brakes were upgraded to 11 x 2.25" drums. The steering box ratio was shortened to 3.8 turns lock-to-lock. The dreaded Y steering linkage was also introduced in 1976 along with a front anti-sway bar. A Special Decor Group comprised of a flat black-finished grille, tape stripe, bright windshield molding, and side window frames and wheelcovers was introduced mid-year. 14,500 Broncos rolled off the line in 1976.
Everyone knew the early Bronco's days were numbered in the face of stiff competition from the Blazer and Chrysler Corporation's Ramcharger and Trail Duster trucks. The 1977 Bronco in many ways represented the best of the breed. There were very few changes from the previous year; the most important one for enthusiasts being the introduction of the heavy duty 9" rear end housing. The most obvious exterior change was the introduction of gas tank doors replacing the previous exterior mounted caps, in line with the introduction of doors on the F-Series and Econoline vans. The rear marker lights were mounted vertically to give clearance for the doors. Some previously standard items, such as a passenger's side seat and padded instrument panel, were made optional this year. Unique to the '77s is a 14.4 plastic gas tank and an 8 gallon auxiliary tank. In its final year of production, 30,700 Broncos rolled off the assembly line before the large Bronco took over in 1978.
The early Bronco today enjoys a cultlike status among four wheel drive and collector car enthusiasts alike. Its simple, sturdy construction, V8 power, and excellent maneuverability ensure good off road performance and provide a platform on which many modifications can easily be made. The popularity of the classic 1966-1977 Ford Bronco will no doubt continue to soar in the years to come.
The above history is credited to www.bronco.com
Early Bronco changes listed by model years. Production numbers are based on Ford Motor Company's records.
1966 The Beginning
Early Bronco Production Started on October 1, 1965. * There were three models available, the Roadster, the Pick-Up, and the Wagon. * The interior was a silver-grey color, including the seats and the sun visors. * The inner door panels and the dash board were painted a gray color. * There was a black vinyl mat in the front of the vehicle. * The door and the window crank handles, along with the seats were all changed in 1967. * In mid-year, the 289 v-8 was offered as an option over the 170 6 Cyl. * The transfer case shifter in a 1966 was non-locking. It only had a ball on the end of it. * The hub caps offered on the vehicle had 3 black rings painted on them, without the red centers, which were to follow shortly. * There was a rear view mirror and a drivers side exterior mirror only. * The drivers side mirror was a round mirror that mounted to the side of the fender. * The rear view mirror screwed to the windshield frame. * The front and rear bumpers were cut straight on the ends instead of on an angle. * The rear shock was mounted on the front side of the rear axle. * None of the brakes were self adjusting. * The tail lights were a solid red, without the white square for the reverse lights. * The liftgate lock was not in the handle, it was mounted on the face of the liftgate, and to the side of the handle. * One of the first changes in the 1966 production year was the switch from a steel left air vent to a plastic air vent. * There were 4,090 Roadsters produced. * There were 6,930 Pick-Ups produced. * There were 12,756 Wagons produced. * Bringing the total to 23,776 of E.B. Production in 1966.
1967 The Beginning Years
This was the first year for the Sport Package. This package was comparable to an XLT or Lariat model today. The Sport Package included the following... * Bright Metal Sport Bronco Emblem * Pleated Parchment Vinyl Front Seat * Vinyl Door Trim Panels With Bright Metal Moldings * Hardboard headlining with bright metal retaining moldings (Wagon Models) * Parchment vinyl -simulated carpet- front mat with bright metal retainers * Rear floor mat included with optional rear seat * Cigarette Lighter * Satin finish horn ring * Bright metal drip rail moldings * Bright metal window and windshield frames * Bright metal grill molding and tailgate release handle * Bright headlight, tail light, side light, and reflector bezels * Argent painted grill with bright ford letters * Chrome bumpers, front and rear * Chrome front bumper guards * Bright metal wheel covers, (W/ 15" Wheels Only) * On the interior, they redesigned the front bucket seats, they became a little larger. * The window and door handles were redesigned, a set screw went into the center of the face, not into the side as in 1966. * Seat belts were added for safety. They also changed the color of the interiors to Parchment. * The transfer case shifter was redesigned to a lock style with a chrome Push Button T-Handle on the top of it. * The hub caps were given the red center ring. * As another safety feature, 4 way flashers and back-up lights were added. * There was a 289 emblem put on the front fenders. * The mirrors were redesigned again. * The front and rear bumper ends were cut on an angle. * The rear shock was moved to behind the axle, to help with the ride. * For the first time, the Bronco got their VIN number on the left cowl panel. * They made all self-adjusting brakes. * The lock for the liftgate was moved to inside the handle. * Ford gave the option of adding an auxiliary tank. * This was the last year for the wiper solvent bags, soon to become plastic bottles. * The rear axle had a fill plug in it. * There were 698 Roadsters produced. * There were 2,602 Pick-Ups produced. * There were 10,930 Wagons produced. * Bringing the production total to 14,230 for 1967
1968 The Continuance
1968 was a big year for the Early Bronco's, many changes we completed to get the sales back up, including the removal of the Roadster. * The design of the steel dash was modified and painted white. * The dash pad was redesigned and implemented around mid-year. * A rear seat was designed for the Bronco. * The dash knobs were changed and used until 1977. * The defroster duct was modified into a one piece design. There was a steering column cover revamping too. * The Door was completely redesigned for 1968. * They went to a flat pull style handle, a larger armrest, and a handle cup. * The window crank handle was changed to the style used throughout the rest of the years.The position of the door lock was moved. * The door latch and the striker were redesigned. * The inner door panels were painted to match the dash pad. * The vent window handle changed to the style that would last through 1977. * The door hinges changed from a counter sunk screw on the pillar side, to bolts. * Again the mirror underwent changes, however this design would last throughout the reign of the Early Bronco. * As for the safety measures, there was an option for electric windshield wipers, instead of the earlier vacuum style. * The solvent bottle was also used. * The master cylinder for the brakes was changed to a dual line system, and the brake light switch was moved to the pedal. * Reflectors were added to the fenders, quarter panels, and the tail light sections. * The park light lenses up front were switched to clear, instead of amber. * The headlight rings didn't have the cut outs for access to the screws. * The option for a swing away tire carrier was very common. * The VIN number was put inside the glove box door. * The shift levers on the steering column were changed. * The rear seat underwent some changes also. * The Dana 30 Lock-outs were revamped to accept 2 o-rings for double protection against the elements. * It was found that a dry element air cleaner could now be produced to be as effective as the oil bath air filter, so it was switched. * This was the last year for the rebuildable drag link end. * Rear mount jack used. * A bracket was now being added to the rear of the right front wheel tub for added support. * This was also the last year for the bolt on windshield frame and door frames. * There were 2,210 Pick-Ups produced. * There were 14,419 Wagons produced. * Allowing for 16,629 total Bronco's to be manufactured.
The 302 replaced the 289 V-8. * The air cleaner was redesigned yet again. * The windshield frame and the door frames were welded on. * The fenders earned the 302 V-8 emblems. * The headlight rings were given 4 slots to access the adjusters. * Dana Spicier replaced the Borg Warner Driveshaft. * A new style drag link was put into use. * The front park lights were made larger, and they were all amber. * The liftgate latches were redesigned. * Electric wipers became standard. * The instrument cluster design changed. * This was the last year for the chrome windshield retaining knobs. * The resivoire was removed from the V-8 radiator and the fill neck was placed directly on the radiator. * A steering stabilizer was added. * The jack was moved to under the hood * The hub seal design changed mid-year. * The bolt pattern for the top to windshield frame changed. * There were 2,317 Pick-Ups manufactured. * There were 18,639 Wagons produced. * There were 20,956 Bronco's produced.
Side marker lights replaced the reflectors. * Tail light reflectors changed. * Bolts are used instead of the chrome windshield knobs. * Last year of the 3 piece wiring harness. * This was also the last year for the non-vented Auxilary Tank. * There were 1700 Pick-Ups built. * There were 16,750 Wagons built. * This is a total of 18,450 Bronco's.
This was the first year that the Stroppe Baja Bronco was offered. * The Dana 30 was replaced by the stronger Dana 44 at mid-year. * The fuse box was moved into the glove compartment with the new style wiring harness. * The wiper solvent bottle was changed and the pump became an internal style. * This was also the last year for the 302 emblem. * There were 1,503 Pick-Ups built. * There were 18,281 Wagons Built. * There was a total of 19,784 Bronco's Produced.
The Pick-Up was discontinued. * There were colors available for the interior. * The column shifter handle design was changed. * The air cleaner design was revamped again also. * There was 21,115 Wagon's built.
This is the first year for the power steering option with a 302. * This was also the first year for the C-4 Automatic Transmission with the V-8. * The 200ci 6 Cyl. replaces the 170ci 6 Cyl. * The seal for the spindle was redesigned. * This was the only year for Dual Feed sending units. * 1973 was the only year that an orange was available as an interior color. * Clear automatic transmission indicator cover. * The explorer package was introduced. * Transfercase shifter was switched to the J-Style shifter. * The Left Front Wheel Tub was changed to accept the steering shaft of the power steering system. * The core support also had to be modified to allow for the size of the power steering box. * Lights were incorporated into the steel dash for the wiper and heater controls. * There were 21,894 Wagons built.
The Dome Light was put into the electric wiper cover. * The automatic indicator cover received a black cover. * This was the only year that a red interior was available. * Mid-Year electronic ignition was incorporated into the 302. * The steering wheel was changed to accept a long thin vinyl horn instead of the pot metal botton. * This was the last year for the Bill Stroppe Baja Bronco. * This was also the last year for the 200ci 6 Cyl. motors. * There were 25,824 Wagon's manufactured.
Unleaded fuel was introduced to the Bronco. * There were catalytic converters installed due to the Pollution control. * 13,125 Wagons rolled off the Michigan Truck Plant Line.
Disk brakes were introduced on the front axle, with the option of making them power. * The rear brakes were upped in size to 11" x 2.25". * The Ranger Package was introduced. * Again the left front wheel tub was redesigned, to clear the master cylinder with a power booster setup. * A brace was added from the core support to the left front tub. * The steering column design was changed. * There was an option for a front sway bar. * The power steering box was given a quicker turning radius, 3.8 turns lock to lock. * There were 15,256 Wagons produced.
This was the only year for the gas tank doors. * The rear tank was completely redesigned. It was now 14.4 Gallons instead of 12. * Dura-Spark Ignition systems took over for the electronic ignintion. * The rear axle housing was made into more of a triangular pattern, with the center section extending out to meet the tubes. * The rear side marker lights were turned vertical and placed in the tail light section instead of in the quarter panel. * The front parking brake cable was redesigned. * There were 14,546 Wagons were built.
The above second half info and production numbers are found @ www.broncograveyard.com