Cohort Classic: 1994 Ford Bronco – The Roof Goes Away


In the interest of actually talking about the car and not covering familiar ground, let’s get the elephant out of the way: O.J Simpson drove one. There. Now the reason this camo’d example, which was shot and uploaded by Teddy 89, caught my attention is because of one seemingly inconsequential thing. Someone went through the effort of taking the roof off.

By the time these Broncos started showing up on dealer lots, the writing was on the wall. No, it wasn’t because it didn’t sell. It did, quite well, actually. And it wasn’t because it was a guzzling body-on-frame SUV.  It was literally the middle of the SUV boom and the American masses consumed them as fast as Ford could build them. Being based on the most successful pickup truck line of all time certainly helped them as well. No, the reason its days were numbered because all of a sudden SUVs were becoming very fancy.


They didn’t just have to do well in the countryside, off-roading or towing something. SUVs were now supposed to work just as well or even better doing the school run, taken the significant other for a night on the town and generally doing everything that a minivan would but without the embarrasment of actually driving a minivan. They needed four doors, cushy suspension and a smaller footprint. The Explorer and the Cherokee were the future, leaving cars like the Ramcharger, the K5 Blazer (canceled in 1991) and this as dinosaurs.


For its final outing, the Bronco received similar updates to the facelifted F-150 that debuted that year. These included a more aerodynamic front end, crumple zones, new dashboard and seats: a thorough redesign to bring it closer to the demands of the new SUV demographic. That brings me neatly to the roof that I mentioned a while back. Ford decided that the sort of people who would buy a Bronco would not be terribly interested in going through all the trouble of taking the roof off, so the easy-to-undo screws were made Torx tamper-proof and hidden behind trim pieces. The rear seatbelts were now affixed to the roof, as was the federally mandated centre high mount stoplight. To anyone that didn’t want or care that the roof in their Bronco could be taken off it meant nothing apart from some trim pieces over screws. But to the enthusiasts that actually wanted roofless motoring, doing so became a nightmare of delicately removing trim pieces, finding the appropriate set of of tools, and removing seatbelts and wiring harnesses.


That didn’t stop the owner of our featured model to go the distance so he and whomever he carries can enjoy alfresco motoring, it also gives us an insight on the original color of the car. Unfortunately it doesn’t give us any clue to pinpoint an actual year. It’s not an XLT so no overhead console and the blue interior was always an option. I wrote ’94 because it’s the middle of the run.


Two years later the Bronco would be replaced by the Expedition with four doors and more creature comforts. Give the people what they want, as they say. Still, for off-road enthusiasts the Bronco holds a very high place in the hierarchy of off-roaders so imagine their reaction when word spread out that Ford is actually working on a new one, probably based on the new Ranger that’s also coming stateside. The chances of the roof coming off of that one are rather slim though.