Finally, the Ford Bronco is back. Off-road fans have been itching for a production for years, and until now there have been only concepts and teasers to keep the dream alive. Through all of that came a lot of fan speculation, but the most important question was whether this reborn SUV would be worthy of the Bronco name. Unlike Blazer diehards who were none too pleased to see that model name be recycled for a family crossover, the Bronco faithful should be more than satisfied with the long-awaited off-roader, at least on paper. Based on our first look at the new Bronco, Ford is going back to its roots with a versatile vehicle that has Jeep firmly in its sights.
Prior to the reveal of the 2021 model, vintage Broncos have been the focal point of the collector truck/SUV market over the past few years. What were once honest, workaday utility vehicles have become a staple of today’s vintage car culture, from trails to car shows and restoration garages. Let’s take a look at market status of past generations of Ford’s Bronco, which covers a wide range of values.
First generation: 1966–1977 Bronco
Average #3-condition (Good) value: $40,100
While the first-generation Bronco was not the first sport utility vehicle of its type, it more than upped the ante. Jeep and International were offering the CJ and Scout before the Bronco was conceived, but Ford’s highly successful take on a compact, capable off-road vehicle would prompt GM to follow with the Blazer and Jimmy. Dodge would later introduce the Ramcharger, as well.
Of all Bronco generations, the first generation is by far the most popular among collectors, which has driven values to nearly double between 2016 and 2019. By digging into Hagerty insurance quotes for the Bronco, we can learn a lot about their collectors; what we find is that the overwhelming majority of quotes come from Generation X-aged enthusiasts. We’ve seen a 6 percent increase in requests for insurance quotes over the past year, which indicates high demand. Values have flattened out in the last 12 months, but near perfect examples of a first-gen Bronco with a factory V-8 can set enthusiasts back $80,000 or more. Quality custom builds can easily eclipse the six-figure mark. One thing is for sure—the first-gen Bronco is likely to remain the leader of the truck and SUV popularity stampede for the foreseeable future.
Second generation: 1978–1979 Bronco
Average #3-condition (Good) value: $24,900
For 1978, the Bronco was enlarged and moved away from a bespoke platform so that it could share many of its components with the F-Series pickup. The change allowed for far more creature comforts than the spartan first-gen, and it gave Ford a full-size SUV to take a shot at GM and Dodge. Having only lasted for two years due to early oil-crisis-relate delays, second-gen Broncos are not a common sight. They are, however, appreciated by collectors, especially younger ones. Generation X makes up 43 percent of the quotes while millennials are close behind at 36 percent.
These were once very affordable SUVs, but in the past few months values have taken off. In the latest update to our price guide in May, we noted market gains upward of 30 percent. Strong interest certainly continues as indicated by a notable sale of a 20,000 mile example on Bring a Trailer for $67,725 (including buyer’s premium) in early June. Whether this is an example of a rising tide lifting all boats when it comes to full-size Bronco values, or if these second-gens are finally receiving the recognition they’ve always deserved, it is certain that for a prime example you’re gonna have to pony up.
Third generation: 1980-1986 Bronco
Average #3-condition (Good) value: $10,800
A big face lift was in store for 1980, adding an updated front suspension and, by 1985, fuel injection. In comparison to the earlier generations, the third-gen Bronco is still quite affordable; the average driver-quality example is obtainable for $10,000 or less, depending on options. It is no wonder that the majority of quotes for third-gen Broncos comes from millennials, who may be more budget-conscious than Gen Xers at this point in their lives. Values have moved little over the past few years on third-gens, but as markets evolve for earlier generations, it is not unreasonable to expect more collector activity as buyers become gradually priced out of earlier Broncos.
Fourth generation: 1987-1991 Bronco
Average #3-condition (Good) value: $10,200
By 1987 the Bronco was ready for another overhaul, although not major as the change from 1979 to 1980. Some of the rough lines were smoothed out, and you’ll note a number of small design updates made for a more refined appearance. Much like the third-gen Bronco, the fourth-gens are quite affordable with driver-quality trucks in the $10,000 range. With the fuel injection standard in this series, the fourth-gen is proving quite attractive to collectors who wish to have a truck that will reliably work under a variety of conditions. Insurance quotes suggest that fourth-gen Broncos are equally popular with Gen Xers and millennials, with a 6 percent increase in quote volume over the past year. Again, like its predecessor, these SUVs aren’t the most popular in the collector space, but its time may well come.
Fifth generation: 1992-1996
Average #3-condition (Good) value: $13,300
The final generation of full-sized Broncos (until now) were introduced in 1992 with substantial changes to the boxy body style that was carried through the ’80s. Recently, the fifth-gen Broncos have enjoyed a huge leap in popularity and value. Over the past year we have recorded a 42 percent increase in quotes for fifth-gen Broncos with the majority of inquiries coming from Gen Xers. Values have also increased for pristine examples by over 10 percent from January to May of 2020.
Recent sales of like-new examples also suggest that the fifth-generation Bronco is experiencing a surge of popularity. In late June, a 457-mile example was sold by Mecum Auctions for $79,200 and just two weeks later a 743-mile example was again sold by Mecum for $77,000. Does this mean that the market is primed to explode for 1990s Broncos? The short answer: maybe. Sustained high-dollar sales are enough to shift the market for pristine, new-in-the-box Broncos and at face value it looks like the fifth-gen Bronco could be shaping up to be a real player in the tuck/SUV market. We’ll be watching as it all develops.