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Digging up buried Bronco treasure in Ford’s private archives

The climate control system’s steady drone echoes through the frigid, fluorescent-lit room. Archival, rolling-stack shelving stands wall to wall, each vertical slice of materials pressed tightly against its neighbor until physically separated by using a lever. Ford historian Ted Ryan has spent enough time here to know he needs to raise his voice so we can hear him over the hum of the fan. “Few [outside Ford] have ever seen this stuff,” he assures us. “We’re the memory of the Ford Motor Company.” He’s wearing a down vest, because this special-access vault keeps the temperature at a consistent 41 degrees to extend the shelf life of the Blue Oval’s precious visual history.

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com:

https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/digging-up-buried-bronco-treasure-in-fords-private-...

Replies (23)

Replies (23)

As someone dedicated to preserving our nation's history with the National Archives, I am impressed by the dedication Ford has towards its impressive history.  I can tell from what I've read and saw with the photos and digital images, to rigorous climate control and other standards, that these historic treasures will be around for a very, very long time.  Thanks for the great article!

New Driver

The HF II freighter was scrapped. The wheelhouse-bridge is mounted on the river side, of the Dossin Maritime Museum in Detroit.

New Driver

I remember a sign posted at the entrance to the "dog bone" test track in Dearborn, that "Bronco's were prohibited" rumored for fear of tipping over. 

Passenger

TimK - the Bronco in the photo is a six-cylinder Bronco (originally 170 cu. in.)  that had the V8 swapped in - it was the first prototype installation.  This Bronco still exists and is owned by Seth Burgett at Gateway Bronco in Illinois.  289s became available in Broncos in March 1966, so 5 months of '66 Bronco production had them available.  The 200 cu. in.  6 replaced the 170 for several years in the early 70s.  The rear wheel openings were same on all Broncos from 1966-1977.

Pit Crew

Very insightful!

New Driver

Today, we might tend to think, with the popularity of off-roading and 4-wheel drive vehicles in general, that making the Bronco, by Ford, would have been a no-brainer. It definitely would was not!! Recreational off-roading was in its infancy and the direction of the genre was by no means clear, I don't know if Iacocca was the true brain child of the Bronco concept, development and assurance of it being produced or, like a lot of production vehicles, had a bunch of backers promoting it but, no matter what, it would have taken a lot of foresight, ingenuity, money and balls to get behind it!! Had it failed, there assuredly would have been some heads rolling at Ford headquarters, make no mistake!! God, I wish I had been old and smart enough to buy one in '66, store it away in some secure, climate controlled garage and had it now but, I wish that all the time with a lot of cars, trucks, vans and....well, you get the same thoughts as well! 

Passenger

From Dune Duster to Pope Mobile... what can't the Bronco do?

Hagerty Employee

Thanks for the teaser.  For all of these years, we got the impression that all of Ford's archives ended up at the Rotunda until the 1962 fire (and what survived sent over to what's now The Henry Ford).  Seems that they've been holding out on a treasure trove that would greatly assist the restoration community.  Especially it seems like it contains assembly line process images, few of which seemed to have survived for the first compact 4x4 Fords, the WWII GP's and GPW's (you can't restore it like it was built, if you don't know exactly how they built it - a phrase that I got from the Bloomington Gold Corvette folks).

 

New Driver

Things have improved since Hank the Duece dumped allot of the history into the pool at Fairlane. 
The article had no pictures of Broncos out making Jeep trails.

Intermediate Driver

So cool that Hagerty had this access!

Community Manager

Great history here. Glad the new one is miles ahead in the quality and design departments! GM stopped building 2 door Tahoes in 1999 and has fell asleep since. Ford should do well with this.

New Driver

FYI,

CJ-7 Jeep came out in 1976. 

Ford MUTT was a M-151. 

Passenger

Excellent and informative research on the Bronco. My dad owned one in the early 70's and it was memorable. Suggestion, the Pontiac Lemans and Tempest models of 61-63 were unique in design, with the rear-mounted tranny and "ropeshaft" drive, which led to the GTO series later. I think it would be enjoyable and informative reading if you did a similar research of these.

Passenger

Are the vehicles shown in the archive photos from Ford's collection?  Do they have a semi-secret stash of historic vehicles like the ones GM has stored somewhere?

Pit Crew

Way to go Eric! Nice article with all it's rare tidbits! Thanks for roping Todd's great book in there too!

New Driver

Excellent article. Love the history!

Passenger

GittyUp!!! Great article. 

Passenger

Excellent article!  Thanks for sharing so many of these extremely rare images and documents.

 

I also appreciate the mention of my book in your article.

Pit Crew

Can anyone tell me the wheel and tire dimensions of the red beauty?

Passenger

I find the picture of the turquoise colored Bronco with the caption, "Ford Vice President and General Manager Donald Frey with the 1966 Ford Bronco. Photo by Ford" to be questionable. As I remember, and I'm old enough to remember, when the Bronco was introduced the only engine available was the 170 cu inch 6 cyl Falcon engine. The 289 V8 wasn't available until 1967 as an option with the 170 continuing as standard. I don't think the 200 inch 6 was ever an option. Since the picture showed a V8 I'm assuming it was a picture of a 1967 Bronco taken in 1966. Other than the engine with upgraded driveline, I don't think there was much difference in any of the 1st Gen Broncos until the rear wheel opening was enlarged, automatic transmission and up graded trim levels were introduced.  

Pit Crew

I STILL don't get it... Like a more powerful Samurai... Tiny space, can't haul anything... The Blazer offered more space, better ride with longer wheelbase... 

Pit Crew

Can't wait to see the new Bronco soon!

Community Manager

This is awesome!

Community Manager