Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1972 Ford Bronco
Years Produced:1966–77
Number Produced:225,539
Original List Price:$3,712
SCM Valuation:$45,000
Chassis Number Location:Top of the right-side frame rail behind shock tower
Engine Number Location:Right-hand side of engine
Club Info:Bronco Club of America
Alternatives:1965–68 International Harvester Scout 800, 1961–72 Jeep CJ-5, 1960–78 Toyota FJ40
Investment Grade:B (this may change if the Bronco craze ends)

This truck, Lot 145, sold for $64,900, including buyer’s premium, during Barrett-Jackson’s Online Only July 2020 Auction on July 6, 2020.

When my SCM editor assigned this profile to me, this bucking Bronco had not yet crossed the digital auction block. Given that the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco had just been revealed a few days prior, I was bracing myself for a staggering result.

“Get ready to vomit with rage, Nicky,” I muttered to myself.

That’s because, around a decade ago, I turned down the opportunity to purchase a 30,000-mile 1968 Bronco for $11,000. I’ve kicked myself ever since.

When I reviewed this excellent example, I conjured images of triple-digit auction results.

Imagine my surprise when it failed to crack $65,000. Meanwhile, a hodgepodge 1968 Bronco fetched $83,000 around the same time over on Bring a Trailer.

What’s going on here? I figure it’s a case of misaligned tastes. But before we get into that theory, let’s have ourselves a refresher on the first-gen Bronco, shall we?

International envy

The original Bronco was created as an answer to the International Harvester Scout and Jeep CJ-5. Ford built the first Bronco for ranchers, outdoorsmen and utility-company workers who had to get off the beaten path with regularity.

Ford likely didn’t anticipate it being a hit among the general populace, who spent most of their time on pavement. We can intuit this because a 170-cubic-inch, 105-horsepower inline 6-cylinder engine borrowed from the Falcon, backed solely by a column-shift, 3-speed manual gearbox, was the only engine-and-transmission combo offered on the Bronco at launch in 1965.

Although it is perfectly adequate, this is the kind of drivetrain duo you offer when you aren’t expecting much of a vehicle. This lackluster, less-than-total-commitment attitude is further evidenced by the myriad parts borrowed from other contemporary Ford cars’ parts bins that composed the Bronco’s interior.

The original design has aged well, which is why much of the 2021 Bronco’s design replicates that of the ’66. But it wasn’t really awe-inspiring, either.

The drivetrain was not the only Falcon carryover that designers bestowed upon the Bronco. It received the Falcon’s fascia, too. At the time, this would have waved the “don’t expect much from this one” flag to onlookers; the Falcon didn’t really inspire confidence in the car-buying public.

Or at least that’s what I’ve been told.

In college, I owned a 1961 Ford Falcon with that 170-ci inline 6-cylinder engine and three-on-the-tree. It was perfectly adequate. But you definitely got the impression nothing about it was designed for longevity. The Falcon was a miserly economy sedan for low-income folks. I see the first-gen Bronco in the same way.


During the past five years or so, the first-gen Bronco has exploded in popularity. A handful of diverse groups are responsible for this outlandish event. They are:

Gen-X moms in the midst of mid-life crises. The “mommy needs to rediscover her cool side” types have flocked to the Bronco. These moms don’t actually want or like the Bronco, I’ll wager. Rather, it scratches the vintage-vehicle itch while being more badass than a Mustang convertible (and less clichéd, too).

Xer moms are followed closely by hillbillies with too much money (see the $83k Bronco on BaT, for example). These guys want Broncos festooned with 37-inch tires, a screaming V8, garish graphics, and stupid — as well as far too many — LED lights. These well-heeled sons of the soil do so much to these rigs that, by my approximation, they cease to be first-gen Broncos anymore.

The Millennials are the last group galloping toward the Bronco. They are keen to add a bit of vintage flare to their experiences-over-possessions, Instagram-friendly lifestyles (funny how possessions still play a pivotal role in their lives, isn’t it?).

They need that perfect accent piece to pose with in the desert to demonstrate to their peers how woke and authentic they are. The more rugged and outdoorsy they — and their gear — appear, the better. Funnily enough, as far as they care, these first-gen Broncos could be as easily substituted with mid-’80s Land Cruisers. It’s the old, boxy 4×4 they’re after — not the nameplate itself.

No love for the original

That brings us to the 1972 Bronco that Barrett-Jackson sold for $64,900 in July. It is about as original as they come. In terms of accoutrements, that is. It has a 302-ci V8 under its hood, which may well be original, as Ford offered the 302 under the Bronco’s hood starting in ’69. And it has retained the 3-speed manual, but the shifter has been moved to the floor.

This example is said to have received a frame-off restoration. It may well have, but it’s sort of hard to tell. It looks nice, but not frame-off nice. I am also perplexed why they didn’t at least vacuum the interior before the auction photos. But that’s neither here nor there.

This one didn’t fetch a king’s ransom like so many other Broncos have recently because it lacks the accessories the above buyers so desperately crave. There are no Mexican-blanket seat covers. It has no automatic transmission. The roof features not one KC light. And the tires appear to be modest 28-inchers — nine inches short from the requisite 37s.

This one isn’t particularly special. It’s nice, but it’s not wacky enough to appeal to a broad audience.

Obviously, $64,900 is nothing to shake a stick at — and it’s a five-fold increase in what this truck might have fetched a decade ago. Still, it lacks the specialness — that je ne sais quoi — to appeal to Xers, hillbillies or Millennials.

Let that be a lesson to you. If you want to build a Bronco that will fetch crazy-stupid money, it too must be crazy and stupid. ♦

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