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.
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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!
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.