In mid-March, I wrote a commentary headlined “I don’t understand the need for driving gloves: Do people wear them just to look cool, or do they enhance car control?”
While I have nothing against such gloves, or against those who might wear them, I had never understood exactly why people would wear them, or why some driving gloves have full fingers and some have no fingers at all.
I asked for edification through the Comments section and was delighted — and educated — by the response.
So, I’m going to try it again, with a new topic: “I don’t understand the prices being asked for old Ford Broncos.”
I’ve had this quandary for a few years now. Again, I have nothing against people who buy or sell vintage Ford Broncos, it’s just that I don’t understand the values being attached to them. And right up front, I’m excluding from this discussion vintage Broncos such as the 1974 Bronco that sold for $650,000 at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction in January, a charity sale with all proceeds earmarked for Alzheimer’s research and care.
But as early as January 2017, Bloomberg was reporting “your dad’s beater that once cost $2,400 is a highly coveted artifact” and that, if you wanted one, you better buy quickly while you still could find one for less than $100,000.
Seriously? Six figures for a Bronco? OK, sure, for one of the Broncos built and raced in Baja by Bill Stroppe, yes, certainly six figures. But for a vehicle that, as I recall, was inferior to the Jeep Wrangler, I’m mystified.
I’m also a little worried. One possible explanation for vintage Bronco prices could be the anticipation of the Bronco revival. We’ve been through this before, folks. Remember the run up in early Thunderbird prices nearly two decades ago when Ford was tooling up a new Tbird?
But back to the Bronco… It’s not that Ford didn’t have 4×4 heritage, after all, it helped develop and produce the original Jeeps for the World War II war effort. But it wasn’t until the summer of 1965 that Ford rolled out a vehicle that, according to The Standard Catalog of 4x4s, was called by Ford division general manager Donald Frey (and remember, he had been one of the fathers of the new Ford Mustang) “as neither a car nor a truck, but as a vehicle which combines the best of both…”
Actually, wasn’t it the worst of both? Neither a car nor a truck, though it did have 4-wheel drive and the sort of ground clearance you might need for forest roads or trails across the desert.
And that’s one reason for the high prices. Many of the old Broncos for sale have been restored and resto-modded with contemporary engines, updated suspension and comfortable interiors, and the price for such work adds up.
The original Bronco was in production for 30 years and several generations and in various forms — roadster, sports utility, (station) wagon, pickup truck. Over the years and generations, the vehicle grew, from its original 93-inch wheelbase to more than 104 inches from axle to axle. It also grew in other dimensions, for example, length, from 152.1 inches to 183.6.
In the spring of 1983, Ford launched the Bronco II, built on the chassis of Ford’s compact pickup truck, the Ranger. Available only in what we now recognize as sport utility guise, this smaller Bronco was about the size of the original, spanning 94 inches between axles and stretching only 158.4 inches overall. Production of the II ended in January 1990. A month later, Ford introduced the Explorer in its place.
The bigger Bronco lasted a few more years, but interest in 2-door SUVs dwindled and Ford launched the Expedition, a 4-door SUV built on the F-150 pickup truck platform.
It was in 2016 that word leaked that Ford was working to introduce a new Bronco, this one to be based on the new but now mid-sized Ranger pickup truck. Which makes me think of the run-up in prices on early Ford Thunderbirds after people learned that Ford would reintroduce a luxurious roadster for the 2002 model year, albeit one based on a larger, heavier platform shared by the Lincoln LS and Jaguar S-Type sedans.
It seemed to take forever before the new T’bird arrived (almost as long as it’s taking for this new Bronco to be born). And when the new Thunderbird was unveiled, boom quickly busted when the new one didn’t live up to the anticipation, the hype or the history.
Hagerty’s online vehicle valuation tool shows prices for early Broncos as relatively flat until around 2011, climbing nicely since then and skyrocketing since the fall of 2017, with a 1966 Bronco roadster in top condition now worth $76,800, though many sellers are asking that and more even for those not quite in concours condition.
A quick search of the CollectorCar.com Marketplace found 40 early Broncos being advertised and for prices that included $80,000, $82,995, $84,900, $87,995, $94,900, $99,000, $109,000, $125,000, $135,000, $145,000, $150,000, $159,995, $169,950, $209,000, and $219,000.
I don’t understand those prices. If you do, please use the Comments section to educate me.