Just which vehicle is history’s most infamous? JFK’s 1961 Lincoln Continental? Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s 1934 Ford? Princess Diana’s 1994 Mercedes-Benz S-Class? Al Capone’s 1928 Cadillac? It may be impossible to name the most infamous vehicle, the one that’s high up on that list for the most outlandish circumstances is undoubtedly the 1993 Ford Bronco, specifically in white.
Introduced in 1966 as one of the pioneering sports utility vehicles, the Ford Bronco existed as a prosperous, but largely uncontroversial vehicle for most of its 30 years of production. That would all change on June 17, 1994, when broadcast on live-television in front of tens of millions, former professional football player and actor, O. J. Simpson led police in a bizarre slow-speed chase through Los Angeles after failing to turn himself in on the charges of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.
Now a fugitive on the run, police were able to locate Simpson around 6 p.m. that evening through phone calls he had made on his cell phone. The now-infamous white 1993 Bronco used as O.J.’s “getaway car” was owned and driven by his friend and former NFL player, Al Cowlings.
After one squad car approached the Bronco, Cowlings yelled out that O.J. was in the back seat with a gun to his own head. Police backed off, but as many as 20 police cars continued pursuit of the Bronco for nearly an hour, as Cowlings drove it on the freeway and eventually though neighborhoods until they reached O.J.’s home in Brentwood, California.
Covered by all major networks and CNN, this was the first mass-televised police chase of its kind. As word of the pursuit spread, crowds began to form on highway overpasses and sidewalks to catch a glimpse of this now historic event. After arriving back at his home, O.J. surrendered himself to police, and a lengthy trial soon pursued – I needn’t say what happened with that.
As for Al Cowling’s actual Ford Bronco, he sold it for a reported $200,000 to three California men who were initially hoping to quickly resell it for even more money. But this ultimately did not happen, and the Bronco sat in storage until 2012, when through mysterious connections, the owner of a sports memorabilia shop at the Luxor in Las Vegas had it displayed in the hotel’s lobby. Hotel management soon had it removed due to the car’s criminal connections, and it went back into storage.
Naturally this Bronco is not the infamous “O.J. Bronco”. Yet even 21 years later, seeing one, let alone a white one immediately evokes thoughts of that infamous day, exactly 21 years ago today.