Curbside Outtake: Ford Bronco II – Still Bucking

Gen 1 Broncos have been red hot for some years now, and I suspect the full size Broncos are not exactly depreciating anymore. But what about the Bronco II? Is it becoming desirable; even collectable?  This is the second one I’ve seen in my neighborhood in the past few weeks.

It made me want to see all three of the compact Broncos together, to see just how they compare. Obviously, the original is now iconic. It’s a;so the shortest of the three, with a 92″ wheelbase and 151″ of length. The Bronco II upped that to 94″ and 158″. And the current Bronco is up to 100″ and 173″. And of course it’s wider and much heavier; the 2.7 V6 version weighs between 4,491 and 5,129 lbs. A porky little pony. The original weighed just about 3000 lbs (for the six); the Bronco II weighed in at 3,239 lbs.

The current one may look lower, but it’s just as tall as the original, at about 72″‘; the BII is a couple inches less tall.

It’s easy to see why the Bronco II looked a bit short at the time, especially compared to the Blazer/Jimmy; it was emulating the original. Whether that was a good idea or not is questionable, since it was really a different vehicle now, targeting the booming compact SUV market that youngish boomers were infatuated with. Maybe it’s because we had one for six months, and it was a bit short.

Never mind its weird steering and tippy handling. It scared me the first time I drove it, and I never pushed it really hard in curves. Ford’s Twin-Beam front axle worked reasonable well on its big trucks, but on the narrow Bronco these swing axles became a bit to swingerish for my taste. It did give me my first taste of 4-wheeling in the mountains north of LA and in the Sierras. Nothing serious; just enough to whet my appetite. And decide that a Jeep Cherokee 4-door was going to be a better choice for us. It handled vastly better.

This is a base version, with a stick. Ours was the Eddie Bauer Yuppie-mobile kind, and the interior really was nice. Of course it had an automatic, which rather dulled the experience some, but then it was Stephanie’s kiddie hauler; my T-Bird Turbo Coupe had a stick, so I couldn’t complain.

The Vista-Cruiser rear side windows were great in the mountains, especially the time we took my parents and my sister over Tioga Pass from Mammoth for a day of sightseeing in Yosemite. And our two little kids sat in the way back, on a little rear-facing bench seat I made for them, including seat belts. Seven in all; a full house. I kept my speed down on Tioga Pass, as my father had read about the issue of certain SUVs being prone to tipping. I could tell he was not too happy to be riding in it.

The SUV boom left a few folks behind.


More on the Bronco II:
Curbside Classic/Auto-Biography: 1984 Ford Bronco II–The Bucking-Bronco Horsey Car

CC Capsule: Ford Bronco II Eddie Bauer- The Bucking Broncette

Vintage R&T Comparison: 1983 Chevrolet S-10 Blazer, Bronco II and Montero – The New Compact SUVs