A Brief History Of The Ford Bronco
The Ford Bronco is credited to be the brainchild of Ford’s production manager, Donald N Frey, in the early sixties. (He is also credited for creating the design of the early Mustang). Jeep CJ-5 and the International Harvester Scout dominated the off-road market, and with the new Chevy Blazer hitting showrooms, Ford needed something fast.
The first generation was produced from 1966 - 1977, and initially, there were three cab types of the Bronco available, a half-cab pickup, a two-door wagon, and an open-air roadster (dropped in ‘67). It had a 92-inch wheelbase (significantly shorter than the 131-inches of the F100 4x4 pickup). Ford made about 24,000 Broncos the first year and sold them for around $2150. Ford would continue producing the Bronco, averaging around 15k units a year introducing the second generation in 1978. During this period, interest increased in the reliable Bronco. The SUV would dominate the landscape for thirty years until Ford discontinued it in 1996. Ford recently revived the Bronco nameplate for production for the 2021 model year.
The Features of the 1969 Ford Bronco
The original Ford Bronco had been in production for a few years by the time 1969 rolled around and made minimal changes to the first models. While initially offered as an “all-purpose vehicle,” the Bronco was adept at hauling equipment and people off-road regardless of the road condition. Some owners found the vehicle adept on snowy roads and attached snowplows to the front.
The 1969 Ford Bronco was offered in the Bronco Wagon and Pickup versions. A standard 170 cu inline-six powered unit, while a 302 cu V8 was optional. Monobeam suspension undergirded the vehicle. A 3-speed manual coupled with.a Dana 20 transfer case was used on these early Broncos, and owners appreciated the 2.42:1 low-gear ratio.
The small square body takes its design cues from the International Harvester Scout, a primary competitor. Small turn signals were situated next to round headlights in an argent-painted grille. The iconic Ford lettering embossed was into the center of the grille, and a small chrome bumper undergirded the front end.
A simple straight accent line moves down the side from the front fender to the rear, reminiscent of the F100 of the day. The Sport Wagon featured chrome on the accent strip, while the Sport Pickup featured a “dent side” line without the chrome inlay. The Bronco had two doors and a rear spare tire assembly that could be swung out of the way to allow cargo to be loaded.
The Bronco was 152 inches long but only had a 92-inch wheelbase. (The Ford F100 was over 200 inches). The cargo box/area was smaller than wide, with only 55 inches of cargo flooring (sometimes, the rear seats interfered with the gear).
The customer had the choice of fifteen various color choices for the 1969 Ford Bronco. Some colors included Raven Black, Wimbledon White, Reef Aqua, Skyview Blue, and Boxwood Green. Wimbledon white was used as the contrasting color for rooftops.
Ford offered two motors to power the 1969 Ford Bronco. The 2.8L 170 cu inline six (Ford had used this engine in the Ford Falcon and Mercury Comet). The engine produced 100 hp @ 4000 rpm and 156 ft/lbs @ 2200 rpm. A 5.0L 302 V8 option was available with 205 hp @ 4600 rpm and 300 ft/lbs @ 2600 rpm.
A synchronized manual three-speed was the only transmission offered on the 1969 Bronco. Ford used the two-speed Dana20 as the transfer case, the same part-time gear-driven t-case in Jeeps, IH Scout, and the brand-new Chevy Blazer (although the Blazer also used the NP205).
The Bronco had a monobeam suspension that Ford used for years in 4x4 applications. While the company moved to the Twin I-beam suspension for their 2wd F100s in 1965, Ford continued with monobeam suspension for 4x4 units. The Bronco has excellent ground clearance, and the width of the wagon (57.4 inches) gave the vehicle stability as it navigated rough terrain.
Ford offered a choice of a cloth bench or vinyl bucket seats. The Bronco wagon also came with a rear vinyl seat. The flooring had a parchment vinyl simulated carpet flooring. The dash was painted metal underneath with a padded top and a large steering column connecting a three-spoke steering wheel. The instrumentation panel was crude (by modern standards), with simple gauges providing speed and fuel information.
There were plenty of upgrades that owners could add to their Bronco, which included a passenger side mirror, dome light, cigarette lighter, skid plates, bucket seats, and a manual radio. Ford encouraged dealers to promote various accessories that their service departments could install. Some of these included a front-mounted winch or small snowplow.
The Specifications of the 1969 Ford Bronco
What is a 1969 Ford Bronco Worth Today?
Although the prices have decreased over the past year or so, there has been increased interest in these classic SUVs, and they have a loyal following. When Broncos hit the auction blocks, they have disappeared rapidly as buyers fight to snatch them up. The value of a 1969 Ford Bronco is $45,900 based on values shown on Hagerty. The most expensive first-generation Ford Bronco ever sold was $650,000 (according to Hagerty). Many classic car collectors search high and low for these vehicles (even with flaws). Various data sources show that the second generation is also vibrant because even though more units were produced, these Broncos were only made for the 78 -79 model year. For more information about classic vehicles, including new listings with prices shown, see classiccars.com
There are several reasons why these older SUVs are often searched for by collectors. The rarity of these vehicles, with their relaxed vibe and ease of repair, means they will continue to be part of collections nationwide. Considering that the first Broncos sold for $2156 in the mid-sixties, the current market value of nearly 40 - 60k dollars means they can be an excellent investment.