1979 Ford Bronco sells for $67,725, setting auction record for second-gen models
Back in March, a beautifully restored 1979 Ford Bronco sold on Bring a Trailer for $60,375, breaking the record for the highest auction price for a second-generation Bronco. That record didn’t last long, because last week BaT sold another ’79—this one an unrestored survivor that commanded $67,725 including buyer’s premium.
The first-generation Bronco has in recent years become an out-and-out blue-chip collectible, so we aren’t surprised to see buyers turning their attention to the next rung down the ladder. Especially with a brand-new model on the horizon, interest in Ford’s rough-and-tumble SUV is high.
With that said, the second-gen Bronco has more in common with Ford’s contemporary pickup truck than it does with the first model. Sold only for the 1978 and 1979 years, the second-gen Bronco ditched a bespoke platform in favor of a shortened F-100 chassis that would be more economical to manufacture. Ford wanted to introduce this new, truck-based Bronco in 1974 to better compete with the Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy, but ultimately it was delayed until 1978 amidst fuel economy worries following the 1973 oil crisis.
When it finally arrived, just two years before the introduction of the third-gen Bronco that never halted development, the revamped Bronco was a notable departure from the decade-old original. To start, it was considerably longer, wider, taller, and heavier than the debut model, and it eschewed the old Bronco’s full-length removable steel hardtop for a smaller fiberglass lift-off unit that covered the B-pillar back to the tailgate. Ford offered the ’78 and ’79 Broncos exclusively with four-wheel drive and in two-door wagon guise, killing off the first model’s roadster and half-cab pickup variants.
Though purists at the time bemoaned Ford’s chosen direction for the second-gen Bronco, the business decision proved savvy. The 1978 and ’79 models were sales hits (77,917 and 104,038 units sold, respectively), besting the Blazer and Dodge Ramcharger. This narrow two-year window marked the only time Ford offered a full-size Bronco with a solid front axle, and the only engines available were Cleveland-based V-8s—a 351M and a 400. When the third-gen model arrived for 1980, it brought with it an independent front suspension and base six-cylinder engine.
The record-holding, unrestored ’79 that sold last week has a lot going for it that convinced the winning bidder to shell out so much compared to the average $48,900 value for #1-condition (Concours) examples. For one, it has just 20,000 miles from new. The condition is excellent, the Wimbledon White/Coral exterior color scheme looks damn good, and the list of factory- and dealer-installed options is comprehensive: hardtop, tinted windows, front bucket seats, folding rear seats, power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning.
Even though this Bronco has the 351 and is a base Custom model—compared to the restored, 400-powered XLT Ranger that sold back in March—originality is (as ever) a powerful force.