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Ford Bronco II History: At the Dawn of the SUV Age

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To accept Ford Bronco II history, go aback to 1983 back the SUV chic was still in its infancy. The Jeep “XJ” Cherokee, Toyota’s all-over 4Runner, and Chevrolet S-10 Blazer were aboriginal models, the closing two alone accessible as two-door vehicles. Ford was accepting accessible to accompany the affray with its own bunched two-door off-roader, the 1984 Bronco II.

The abstraction abaft the Bronco II was not to actualize a new ancestors vehicle, but rather to abbreviate the acceptable four-wheel-drive truck. Like the full-size Bronco, the Ford Bronco II was based on auto barter basic (in this case, the anew alien Ranger), and it was advised to be as band-aid as the original. No surprise, Ford chose to name the Bronco II afterwards its bigger brother.

From the beginning, the Bronco II’s approaching looked bright. Automobile, like the Nissan Pathfinder, was still about three years from launch, but our sister advertisement MotorTrend admired the Bronco II. It appropriate the XLT trim akin stood for “Xcellent Little Truck,” and MT’s aboriginal analysis (June 1983) accepted the barter and went bottomward in Ford Bronco II history for acquainted not aloof its off-road chops, easy-to-park size, and good-for-a-truck ammunition economy, but additionally for its adequacy as a agent for all purposes.

Except it wasn’t—and Ford allegedly knew it.

Ford Bronco II History: The Bucking Bronco

Long afore the Ford Bronco II went on sale, the architect was acquainted of abeyant rollover issues. Engineers had afflicted the Bronco II’s adherence index, a adding based on the centermost of force and clue width, and begin it was decidedly lower than the aggressive Chevy S-10 Blazer, and hardly lower than the Jeep CJ-7. Abiding enough, Ford Bronco IIs had already started to go shiny-side-down in testing. So abundant was the affair that Ford alone assertive assignment from the testing affairs in the name of its drivers’ safety.

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Engineers appropriate fixes, best of which would accept delayed the barrage and cut into the Bronco II’s profitability; they would accept appropriate all-encompassing modifications to the Ranger belvedere to widen the clue or lower the centermost of gravity. About all options were vetoed. Ford was bent to get the Bronco II to bazaar on agenda in adjustment to attempt with the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer, which was already accepting a year’s arch start. In the summer of ’82, Ford’s General Counsel appointment requested all abstracts accompanying to the Bronco II’s handling. The administration aggregate added than 100 documents, 53 of which, it was afterwards discovered, would be fabricated to disappear.

Ford Bronco II History: The Botheration Goes Public

It took a while, but eventually the blow of the apple became clued-in about the Bronco II’s assurance issues. In 1989, Consumers Union, administrator of Consumer Reports, gave the Bronco II its alarming “Avoid” appraisement due to its addiction to tip over in emergency maneuvers, alike at almost low speeds—a echo of the affairs that helped to bore the Suzuki Samurai a year earlier.

The rear-wheel-drive adaptation of the Ford Bronco II, alien in 1986, accepted to be the bigger problem. According to the Allowance Institute for Highway Safety, the rear-drive Bronco II’s rollover-related afterlife amount amid 1986 and 1990 was 3.78 fatalities per 10,000 vehicles, compared to 1.74 for the four-wheel-drive Bronco II, and 1.11 for the Suzuki Samurai. IIHS said 88 percent of fatalities in Broncos, either two- or four-wheel drive, complex a rollover crash.

At the appetite of CU and the Centermost for Auto Safety, the National Highway Traffic Assurance Administration opened an analysis into the Bronco II. NHTSA beneath to affair a recall, free the rollover amount wasn’t decidedly greater than added agnate SUVs.

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Ford Bronco II History: Bronco II’s Backup

By this point in Ford Bronco II history, the affair of the truck’s architecture was abundantly a arguable point. Ford was advancing its replacement, and accustomed the bad press, it had already absitively on a new name: The 1991 Explorer was appointed for a 1990 launch. Worth noting, the Explorer’s adherence basis was alone hardly bigger than that of the Bronco II. It would run into its own rollover problems due to failures of its Firestone tires, which were declared to run at lower burden in adjustment to annihilate the Explorer’s adherence issues. The botheration wasn’t absolutely apparent until the 2002 Explorer was launched with a added clue and an absolute rear suspension.

There were still affluence of Bronco IIs out on the road, as Ford awash some 700,000 during the model’s seven-year run. Figures on the afterlife assessment vary—one appraisal says 800 bodies were dead in Bronco II rollovers, while columnist Adam Penenberg claims that one in 500 Bronco IIs was complex in a baleful rollover crash. The peril of the Ford Bronco II was allegedly so abundant that allowance behemothic Geico banned to address behavior for it.

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Ford Bronco II History: Accompanying Lawsuits

It wasn’t connected afore lawsuits began to accumulation up. One of the cases complex acclaimed jockey Willie Shoemaker, whose own history was afflicted acutely back he was bedridden afterwards rolling his Ford Bronco II while drunk; he won a $1 actor lawsuit. The better hit to Ford was $62.4 actor awarded to two occupants of an ’86 Bronco II that rolled, one of whom suffered a austere academician injury. In 1992 alone, the New York Times claimed Ford faced a absolute of $742 actor in 13 accusation claims. Ford would alone say it faced beneath than 100 lawsuits and claims, and had already acclimatized at atomic 50.

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One agency in the actual losses was a above Bronco II architect alleged David Bickerstaff, who larboard Ford in 1990. Bickerstaff testified in a 1990 case about his apropos apropos the dangers airish by the Bronco II’s low adherence index. Shortly thereafter he cut a accord with Ford to serve as a attestant on its account in approaching cases, for which Ford reportedly paid him $5 actor during an eight-year period. Bickerstaff was accused of alteration his affidavit already he was on Ford’s payroll, downplaying his apprehensions and the accent of the adherence index. A Federal adjudicator in 2001 alleged the acceding amid the parties “a cabal to accomplish fraud.” Neither Bickerstaff nor Ford was anytime brought up on canard charges, but the acknowledgment of the accord is advised to be a agency in abounding of Ford’s action losses.

Ford Bronco II History: Totaling Up the Losses

How abundant money did Bronco II action amount Ford? It’s difficult to say. In 2001, Time appear Ford spent a absolute of $2.4 billion in accident settlements accompanying to the Bronco II, including one acceding that complex giving amid $100 and $300 to 680,000 Bronco II owners for modifications and repairs. But that didn’t stop the banking bleed; Ford was still clearing Bronco II lawsuits as backward as 2012. Ford connected to assert the Bronco II was not inherently defective, and that any agent can cycle over beneath the appropriate (or wrong) circumstances.

The Bronco II name had already been abandoned, and in 1994, the full-size Bronco had its own besom with abomination with O.J. Simpson’s camp low-speed chase. Did that accept annihilation to do with Ford’s accommodation to carelessness the Bronco name altogether? We don’t apperceive for sure, but in 1997, the full-size Bronco was replaced by a new four-door SUV alleged the Expedition.

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