Launched for 1966, the Bronco was Ford Motor Company’s first dedicated 4X4 sport-utility vehicle. Aimed at the growing market already populated by the ‘CJ’ Jeep and International Harvester Scout, the Bronco was yet another 1960s Ford success story that continues uninterrupted today. Donald N. Frey inspired the Bronco concept, while Paul G. Axelrad led chassis design. The Bronco’s body, frame, and suspension were all unique, while the brakes and axles were borrowed from the F-100 truck line and the transfer case was sourced from DANA Corporation. Underpinnings included coil-spring front suspension and rear leaf springs. Importantly, the Bronco’s trim proportions and short wheelbase yielded a tight 35-foot turning radius.
The Bronco featured a purposeful and instantly recognizable square body design that with flat glass, no-frills bumpers, and a spartan interior. Initial models included a wagon, pickup-style half-cab, and adventurous Jeep-style roadster. Interiors included front bucket seats, a rear bench, and tachometer. Available items included an auxiliary gas tank, snowplow, winch, tow bar, post-hole digger, and special-purpose wheels and tires. Standard power was provided by a modified version of Ford’s 105-HP, 170 CI ‘six’ at introduction; the 289 CI small-block V-8 was optionally available later during 1966, upsized to 302 CI by 1968. Updates throughout production were mostly detail-oriented, with an automatic transmission first offered as an option for 1973. Upscale interiors and even factory-installed air conditioning were also added to the option list in the 1970s, extending the lifespan of the highly popular first-generation Bronco, which enjoyed production through 1977. Today, these sporty icons continue to enjoy strong demand for their pure design, rugged good looks, and legendary versatility.
While many surviving examples have suffered the rigors of hard use or total restoration and extensive modification, this 1974 Ford Bronco is an exceptionally well preserved specimen. Featuring a robust 302 CI V-8 engine and column-shifted automatic transmission, it is quite rare with factory air conditioning. Sympathetic cosmetic restoration work was performed under the prior owner, only as required. A rust-free, lifelong California vehicle, the Bronco has received just one high-quality exterior refinish, while the dash, engine bay, inner fender panels, wheel well paint, and undercarriage are remarkably original, confirming the vehicle’s exceptional quality and integrity. Inside, only the outer seat bolsters were re-covered in correct vinyl upholstery, while the smart original houndstooth seat inserts were preserved and remain in place. A difficult-to-find headliner was also sourced and painstakingly installed at great effort and expense. The accessory bright trim moldings – popular period accessories – were fitted to this Bronco during the 1970s and carefully retained as well. A new Holley 2V carburetor was also installed, providing original-style performance and fuel economy with the added benefits of easier tuning and parts availability.
In summary, this highly original and handsomely preserved 1974 Ford Bronco is simply a thrilling find for today’s smart collectors and enthusiasts. It also comes with the original California license plate and offers the driving ease and comfort of strong V-8 power, a no-fuss automatic transmission, and the all-season comfort of factory air conditioning. As offered, this Bronco is the likely the closest you can get to travelling back in time to 1974 to experience a new Bronco!