We still don’t have the new Ford Bronco that FoMoCo promised us at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. But if you want a Bronco that’s more modern than the drafty rattletrap 1966–77 first-gen, maybe it’s time to consider the true successor to the original: the 1984–1990 Bronco II.

A chip off the old Ranger

Just like the eventually-to-be-released 2021-and-beyond new Bronco, the Bronco II used Ford Ranger underpinnings. This included the 2.8-L Cologne V6 (the 2.0-L and 2.3-L from the Ranger were not offered). Bronco II was essentially a shortened Ford Ranger with a permanent wagon roof on the back, featuring fixed rear-quarter windows that rolled into the roofline and a full-size rear hatch.

Several trim packages were available, generally following with the Ranger and the full-size Bronco, in XL, XLT, XLS and top-shelf Eddie Bauer editions.

1986 was a pretty big year for changes for the Bronco II. Originally exclusively in 4-wheel drive, a 2-wheel-drive version was made available. Four-wheel-drives now had “Touch-Drive” electric shifting for the transfer case. The standard engine became the 2.9-L V6 with electronic fuel injection.

1989 was the other big year for change, as the Bronco II shared the same heavy restyle with new front clip, dashboard and interior fittings as the Ranger. Ford also stepped up the build quality of the Ranger with this refresh, most of which also carried over to the Bronco II. Yet the end was near for the Bronco II. The new-for-1991 Ford Explorer — in 2-door and 4-door form — was introduced in early 1990, and the Bronco II was discontinued. The Explorer was longer, better riding and more stable.

Don’t tip the driver

The Bronco II had a propensity to roll over when attempting evasive maneuvers — much like the Jeep CJ-7 and Suzuki Samurai. Folks bought and used these SUVs like any other car — but they don’t handle like a car. They have a higher center of gravity, exacerbated by the short wheelbase and greater amount of glass higher up than a 4×4 Ranger (glass being heavier than sheet steel). While the NHTSA found that the roll-over rate for the Bronco II is similar to all other 1980s pre-SUVs, it’s still better suited for trails than freeways.

The heaviest attrition of Bronco IIs is actually from daily use in the snow and salt belt — where your typical drivers tend to be more attuned to contending with a given vehicle’s idiosyncrasies as part of winter driving. The Bronco II’s short wheelbase may make for a rougher ride and give it tricky high-speed handling, but was desirable for use with a snowplow. With lower resale values than Rangers in lesser conditions, they were generally run into the ground and then junked or parted out.

A specialty collector truck

Yet if you know that you don’t use hammers to drive screws and you don’t take a C7 Corvette trail riding when it’s snowing, the Bronco II may be for you. It has something of a niche following among off-roaders.

In stock form, they’ve become a curiosity in the collector-vehicle world, and prices are starting to see some upward movement.

With vintage trucks, MPVs and SUVs continuing to do well — with most collectors giving them limited, careful use — the few original lower-mile Bronco II 4x4s are starting to ride on their coattails. Even at the start of the vintage-truck craze a decade ago, higher-condition Bronco IIs began to outpace Rangers in price — and continue to do so.

Now that Ford has all but abandoned car sales in North America, perhaps a few well-cared-for original Bronco IIs kept for posterity will remind us that we should be careful of what we want — and told that we want — as we may actually get it.

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