Ford’s first-generation Bronco, built from 1965 through 1977, continues to climb in popularity within the collector car market. Their cute little size, simple, no-nonsense drivability and the forthcoming return of a new version have all helped to reinvigorate their appeal. More and more, these classic trucks are showing up, getting rebuilt at top shops, displayed at shows and rolling across auction blocks.
Here at the 2019 Mecum Auctions Harrisburg event, there’s more than a few of these pint-sized pickups. I’ve spent all day crisscrossing the Pennsylvania Farm Show fairgrounds, reigning in and rounding up my favorite Bronco finds. Here are my six top picks.
1. Mountain Machine: 1974 Ford Bronco
This sunny, Sandpiper Yellow and white wagon was ordered in January of 1974 from Johnson-Cook Ford in Boone, North Carolina. That’s a wonderful locale for such a capable vehicle, given its close proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The original owner ponied up for options like the top-of-the-line ‘Ranger’ package (costing $421.20 and adding such things as cloth seats, a carpeted interior and body stripes), the 302 CI engine ($129.30) and an auxiliary fuel tank with skid plate ($39.50). From the factory, Broncos received fourteen-gallon fuel tanks, located behind the rear axle. The aux option added an additional eleven-gallon tank, mounted under the driver’s seat. A switch under the dash changed the fuel reading from one to another and both filler necks were on the same driver’s side rear fender.
The truck’s original owner also added on heavy-duty rear springs, an AM radio and off-road tries. The entire price of the vehicle rang up at $5,273.40. In the decades since, it has had a full body-off restoration and it shows. In spite of being parked around several other yellow vehicles at the auction, it had no trouble turning heads. This one comes with the original window sticker and owner’s manual. This one is crossing the block on Friday.
2. Cream Puff: 1966 Ford Bronco U14
This cream-colored ‘half-cab’ example has had one repaint and shows 62,000 miles. Ford marketed this body style as a ‘short roof sports utility’ vehicle, and it does offer some decent cargo-carrying abilities in the rear. Power on this one comes from a six-cylinder, good for 170 horsepower. The engine bay shows a good deal of patina, including original stickers, which has me thinking it’s remained untouched. Gears are selected through a three-speed manual transmission, located on the steering column. Inside, it’s way back to basics, coming with the stock ‘three-man’ bench seat, and not much else by way of creature comforts. In the bed, there’s a spare tire mounted in the factory-installed location, just behind the cab. This one sells on Saturday.
3. Out of the Blue: 1975 Ford Bronco Wagon
This beauty has received a frame-off restoration and is painted in Peacock Blue and white paint. That two-tone color scheme carries over to the interior, too. Under the hood is a 302 CI engine, paired to a C4 automatic transmission. The rig received the ‘Ranger’ package, auxiliary fuel tank, and power disc brakes and power steering. While it screams stock, the seller has made a few subtle modifications. For those hot days out on the trail, there’s a Vintage Air system and tunes to pass the time, thanks to an upgraded radio with Bluetooth connectivity. It sold for $60,500 on Thursday.
4. Going Green: 1976 Ford Bronco Wagon
This two-owner, green machine claims to be a rust-free Utah truck, showing just over 28,000 miles on the odometer. It boasts a 302 CI V8 engine under the hood, paired to an automatic transmission. Dual exhaust dumps out on either side of a trailer hitch. The truck also has an auxiliary fuel tank, power steering and power brakes. At some point in the Ford’s life, it received a repaint, as well as fabric seats, which the seller reports were preferred. With no AC inside, they were found to be much cooler than the stock vinyl covers. The green color scheme also found its way inside, as the upholstery, carpet, and dash all match the exterior hue. This one sells on Saturday.
5. Big Build: 1976 Ford Bronco
This built-up beast was recently restored by a retired Ford employee. They had tons of firsthand experience, working in the Michigan truck plant’s final assembly area from the 1970s all the way through 2008. Under the vehicle’s custom hood, there’s a Ford Performance 347 CI stroker V8 engine, paired to a C4 heavy-duty transmission. The truck’s exterior is painted in Midnight Blue Metallic and inside, there’s bucket seats, digital gauges, and a Vintage Air system. A bikini soft top makes for fun in the sun whlie a roll bar keeps things safe during extreme off-roading. A neat touch is the custom rear speaker, built into a Jerry can. Watch for this one to cross the block on Saturday.
6. Red ‘n Ready: 1966 Ford Bronco U14
This rig looks ready to rumble, sporting dual exhaust, a 302 CI V8 engine and gnarly, off-road tires. There’s also fender flares to protect from bumps and bruises while bounding around on the trail. The cabin sports extra gauging, a wood-rimmed steering wheel and an aftermarket radio. If there’s not enough cargo room in the bed (which has the spare tire removed) there’s a trailer hitch that can be used to pull additional loads. This one sells on Friday.