The 1966 Ford Bronco press preview: Here’s how the original was revealed

With the debut of the 2021 Ford Bronco just hours away, we’ve been pouring through heritage materials provided by Ford, examining the historical connections between the new SUV and its predecessor, and perhaps looking for clues as to what Ford has in store. 

Included in those materials was a series of photos from the 1966 Bronco’s press preview — the event held to introduce the 4×4 to the automotive press of the day — and some of the supporting collateral from the Bronco’s original announcement in August 1965. Despite decades worth of technological progress — and notwithstanding the global health crisis — the art of pitching a new SUV has not really changed much. Stop us if you’ve heard this before:

“The new Ford Bronco is a sports-utility vehicle which, with its standard two- and four-wheel drive, is equally at home on a rugged mountain grade or on a run to the shopping center. Designed to operate on or off the highway, the new Ford vehicle comes in three body styles — a sporty roadster, a roomy wagon and a short-roof utility model.”

When developing the original Bronco, Ford said it reached out to approximately 300 four-wheeling clubs to solicit their input on what would they wanted in a 4×4. Their feedback included a more comfortable ride, increased highway cruising speeds, weather-tight cabins, better seats, a shorter turning radius and more availability of replacement and upgrade parts. 

That’s from 1965, but it would be right at home in a new-car announcement today. Oh, and if you think the notion of appealing to “active lifestyle” types is anything new to automotive marketing, Ford’s then-VP Donald N. Frey drops this delightful little nugget, citing the then-explosive growth in the 4×4 SUV segment:

“The Ford Bronco has been designed to join the Mustang in providing modern, active Americans with driving adventure as well as practical transportation. We think of the Bronco as neither a conventional car nor a truck, but as a vehicle which combines the best of both worlds. It can serve as a family sedan, a sports roadster, a snow plow, or as a farm or civil defense vehicle. It has been designed to go nearly anywhere and do nearly anything.”

We’re not saying you should turn Monday night’s Bronco unveiling into a drinking game, but if you want to throw one back each time Ford recycles a buzzword from the 1966 Bronco press release, hey, who are we to discourage you?