History Of The Ford Bronco

The Ford Bronco was made available from 1966-1996, and is viewed as five (5) different generations:


  • 1966-1977 – Generation I (The ‘Early Bronco’)

  • 1978-1979 – Generation II 

  • 1980-1986 – Generation III

  • 1987-1991 – Generation IV

  • 1992-1996 – Generation V


1966-1977 Generation I:

The first generation Ford Bronco was introduced to go toe to toe with the Jeep CJ and International Scout. They were offered in wagon, half cab, and a less popular roadster configuration. The roadster version was dropped and the sport package, which later became a model line, was added.

This early Bronco was initially offered with a 9-inch rear, Dana 30 front, and a 170 cubic inch inline 6-cylinder engine. A 289 ci V8 was added the following year. The 302 replaced the 289 in 1969. The Dana 30 was replaced by a Dana 44 in 1971. 

Disc brakes became an option in 1976, and became standard in 1977.

Bronco Half Cab Bronco Roadster Bronco Wagon

1978-1979 Generation II:

1978 saw a larger redesigned version that was based on a shortened fullsize F-100 pickup, and shared shared many chassis, drivetrain, and body components with the F-100. It had a removable top and forward folding rear bench seat, similar to the competing Blazer. For 1978, Broncos were equipped with round headlights, with the exception of the Ranger XLT trim model. For 1979, all Broncos came standard with square sealed beam headlights.

The 1978 and 1979 Broncos also merged the rear glass hatch and tailgate into a single unit that allowed the rear glass panel to retract completely into the tailgate by use of an electric motor.

The base engine was the 351M V8 with an option 400M V8. Transmission options were the beefy C6 automatic, or an optional 4-speed manual.

This was the last generation to offer a solid front axle.

1980-1986 – Generation III:

The Bronco received a redesign in 1980 to coincide with the F-series trucks. Besides the cosmetic changes, the Bronco also received Fords new Dana 44 Twin Traction Beam independent front suspension. Engine options were the 300 ci straight six, the 302 V8, and 351M V8. The 351M (modified) was replaced with the 351W (Windsor) in 1982.

In 1983, the ford 9-inch rear axle was replaced with the new Ford 8.8-inch axle.

Transmissions offered on the 3rd generations were the 4-speed manual, 3-speed C6 automatic, and 4-speed AOD automatic.

1987-1991 – Generation IV:

In 1987 the Ford Bronco changed again to follow inline with the Ford F-series trucks. The Bronco received the newer aero body style, and by 1988, all Bronco’s were being sold with electronic fuel injection. The engine lineup remained the 300 straight 6, 302 V8, and 351W V8. The C6 automatic was offered up through 1989 with the 351W, but was replaced with the E4OD 4-speed automatic for 1990. The 302 was still available with the AOD automatic, and a M5OD-R2 5-speed manual was also available.

1992-1996 – Generation V:

The Bronco was redesigned along with the F-150’s for 1992. Safety features were added in the form of front crumple zones, rear shoulder safety belts, a 3rd brake light in the top, and a driver side air bag. With the rear shoulder belt and 3rd brake light being incorporated in to the removable top, it was no longer legally removable. Information on how to remove the top was no longer listed in the owners manual, but the top could still be unbolted and removed.

The engine and transmission options continued, but the AOD automatic was replaced with an AOD-E automatic.

1996 was the last year for the Ford Bronco. 1997 would see the introduction of the 4-door Ford Expedition as its replacement.

Ford Bronco II:

The Ford Bronco II shares nothing with the full size and early Bronco’s. The Bronco II was available between 1984-1990 and competed with Chevy’s S10 Blazer. Click HERE for the History of the Ford Bronco II.