10 Things to Consider When Buying a Classic Ford Bronco

10 Things to Consider When Buying a Classic Ford Bronco

Considering a Classic Ford Bronco? Learn what to look for with our detailed buyer’s guide—perfect for enthusiasts and collectors alike. Start your search today!

If you’re in the market to buy a classic Ford Bronco, then you already know how popular these vehicles are among enthusiasts. And what’s not to love? Broncos have rugged styling with capabilities to match, and they are perfect classics for relaxing weekend cruises or exciting off-road adventures.

The classic Ford Bronco was produced continually from 1966 through 1996 where it competed against vehicles such as the Jeep CJ-5 and International Scout 80 in its earlier years to larger vehicles like the Chevrolet K5 Blazer and Dodge Ramcharger after 1978. This classic Ford Bronco buyers guide points out key strengths and weaknesses of this iconic SUV to help you in your purchase decision.

Here are 10 things to look for when buying a Bronco:

What Are The Best Years For A Classic Bronco?

There are six generations of the Ford Bronco, including the newest model that was introduced in 2021. Of the five classic body styles, the first-generation Bronco is, by far, the most desirable. These Broncos were built from 1966 through 1977 with very few changes along the way. You can’t go wrong buying any first-gen Bronco, but changes made after 1973 made these trucks a little more user-friendly with the addition of an automatic transmission and power steering as optional features.

Velocity 1973 Ford BroncoVelocity 1973 Ford Bronco in Pearl Orange with optional Double Diamond upholstery stitching

When it comes to restored first-gen Broncos, it’s getting harder to find one in original, unrestored condition as they are popular for numerous modifications including cut rear fenders (in order to fit larger tires). Most of the Broncos you’ll see on the market have likely been modified to some degree, but if done right, that can help the truck hold their value even better. In the case of a Velocity Ford Bronco, these trucks have been fully modernized and reimagined from the ground up so it rides and drives like a new car and without affecting the authentic styling that makes a classic Bronco so desirable in the first place.

In 1978, the Bronco grew in size mirroring the full-size F-Series design and product cadence. Further redesigns occurred in 1980, 1987, and 1991. While the first-generation Broncos are in the highest demand, the subsequent classic Ford Bronco models continue to grow in popularity.

Know Your Budget

The first thing that should be on your checklist when buying a classic Ford Bronco is to have a realistic budget in place. Again, with the popularity of the early Broncos and the short production of the second-gen, these tend to command higher prices on the resale market. The later years (1980-1996) are perhaps the best Broncos to consider on a tighter budget, but all classic Broncos hold their value very well.

With this popularity, first-gen Bronco prices vary greatly depending on what you’re looking for. Basically anything under $10,000 is going to get you a rusted pile of parts, a VIN plate, and hopefully a clear title, which is a good place to start for an intense project or full rebuild, but you’ll likely need to step up to the $20,000 range before you can get a Bronco that is possibly running/driving albeit it with somewhat rough bones.

Spending closer to $50,000 is where you’ll find nicer, restored Broncos with original drivetrains and still somewhat basic features, while six-figure prices is the range you’ll start to see restomods featuring ground-up rebuilds and a modern drivetrain. Add in a custom-built chassis, high-quality body work, and an interior worthy of a collectible luxury vehicle (like what you’ll find on a Velocity Ford Bronco), and it isn’t uncommon for a top-end first-gen Bronco to top $300,000.

Body Styles and Trim Levels

In addition to the compact size, the first-generation Bronco was unique as it was available in three body styles: Wagon, Sports Utility, and Roadster. The Sports Utility was basically a pickup truck with a half cab roof, while the Wagon had rear seats and a full hard top. The Roadster was a bare-bones Bronco with no roof and molded inserts (shaped similarly to the Jeep CJ-5) in place of actual doors.

There have been various trim levels used on the Bronco over the years. In its earliest years, the Bronco was offered in base and Sport trim levels, and in 1973 added the Ranger and Explorer packages to match labels used on the F-150. The second-generation had Custom and XLT trim levels, and the third-gen dropped the base Custom trim designation) and added XLS, XLT Lariat and, in 1985, the Eddie Bauer trim. Fourth-gen Broncos saw the return of the Custom trim level and the limited-production models in 1991 called Nite and Silver Anniversary Edition. For the final generation of the classic Ford Bronco, the Custom trim was replaced by XL in 1994, XLT and Eddie Bauer trims continued, Bronco Nite returned for 1992 and the XLT Sport arrived in 1995.

Easy Access To Parts

Between the popularity of the early Broncos and the shared use of parts with the F-Series on later models, there is excellent parts support for the classic Ford Bronco. Body panels and replacement trim pieces are easy to find online, while engine, chassis, and suspension parts are easy to find at neighborhood parts stores. Having such access to these parts is one of the reasons that the Ford Bronco is so popular since it makes it easier to restore and maintain the vehicle.

Velocity Ford Bronco Uncut Vs MoldedVelocity Ford Broncos with OE-style “uncut” fenders (left) and molded fenders (right)

Cut vs. Uncut

When looking for classic Ford Bronco tips, the subject of rear fenders is sure to come up in regards to the 1966-1977 Bronco. From the factory, these had a tear-drop shape, which added to the styling of the vehicle but limited tire clearance. A common modification was to cut the rear fenders to accommodate larger tires and more off-road clearance. These modded bodies are referred to as “cut” while those retaining the factory design are called “uncut.” In this current market, it doesn’t appear that having cut or uncut rear fenders affects value, but rather it’s more of a personal preference for the buyer.

Stock vs. Modded

While the cut rear fenders are a common modification for the first-gen Bronco, all years are super easy to modify. Again, choosing between a stock and modified Bronco is all about personal preference, but there’s no denying that the latter can help turn any Bronco from an eye-catcher to a show-stopper. That’s especially true when you start adding restomod touches such as a custom interior from Velocity.

Safety

One especially important thing to consider when buying a used Ford Bronco is safety. The compact size of the earlier Broncos makes them susceptible to rollovers (especially when lifted and with big tires), while the older model years had limited seat belt and roll bar protection. Consider upgrading the safety of your Bronco such as reinforced roll bars with three-point seat belts to make it safe and reliable vehicle for the whole family to enjoy. And whenever you’re considering the purchase of a classic vehicle, it’s always recommended to hire a professional vehicle inspector to ensure the car is in the expected condition and safe to drive.

Velocity Ford BroncoVelocity Ford Bronco shown with optional hard top

Removable Hard Top

One of the best aspects of owning a Ford Bronco is that they can all be enjoyed with an open-air experience. All classic Ford Bronco models have a removable hard top, and while the 1966-1973 Bronco Roadster technically came from the factory without a roof or doors, it could be equipped with optional soft top and doors. Velocity Ford Broncos are available with a removable hardtop, but a bikini top with the 4-point roll cage is standard fitment; buyers can also choose from a safari top with the 6-point roll cage or a full soft top.

While later Broncos had a factory hard top, various trim pieces made it more of a challenge to remove the top, and the final generation required removing the top seat belt anchor to take the top off.

Engines

Over the years, the Ford Bronco has been offered with various engine options. The Bronco originally launched with just a straight-six engine, but added Ford’s popular 289 cubic-inch V-8 shortly after it went on sale. Both engines were upgraded in 1973 including the use of the 302 CID V-8. The second generation is the only Bronco that doesn’t offer a six-cylinder engine as it came only with the 351 and 400 CID V-8s. The final three generations of the classic Ford Bronco had three engine options: 5.0L V-8, 5.8L V-8, and the 4.9L inline-six which was dropped from the lineup in 1994. Fuel injection was added starting in 1987.

Rust

As is the case with any vintage vehicle, knowing what to look for when buying a Bronco will make for a positive purchase experience, and this includes looking for rust or signs of previous rust repairs. Common areas to look for rust on all generations include the floor pans and rocker panels. Frame rust is very common on first-gen Broncos (perfect time to source a Velocity rolling chassis!), while later Bronco years had issues with rust at the body mounts, fenders, and B-pillar floor.

The Classic Ford Bronco restored by Velocity stands out as exemplary models of quality and craftsmanship. We ensure every Bronco combines authentic styling with contemporary comfort and performance. Visit our website or contact us today to find the classic Ford Bronco that’s perfect for you. Explore our options and take the first step toward owning a legendary classic!

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