1978 Ford Bronco Ranger XLT
2dr Wagon 4x4
8-cyl. 351cid/156hp 2bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
While the Ford Bronco may have started out as an appealing competitor to the Jeep CJ and International Scout in 1966, by 1977 it was not only were getting long in the tooth but the target had also changed. The Multi-Purpose Vehicle market was by this time dominated by pickup-truck based vehicles, namely the Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Jimmy. Even Chrysler joined in with their own Dodge Ramcharger and Plymouth Trailduster, both introduced for 1974. These short wheelbase pickup based wagons impressively offered four-wheel drive as well as a level of equipment and features that matched or even exceeded most cars.
As the sales of their Bronco plummeted, Ford recast it in 1978 to match the mild restyling of their F-series pickups. Essentially an F-100 from the doors forward, the Bronco was now all grown up. Like its rivals, it had a removable Fiberglas rear top, and it also packed more of a punch that its stablemate pickups with a 49-state standard 400 cubic inch V-8, partially because it was only offered in four-wheel drive. Also like the pickups, it was offered in a number of trim packages, namely the Custom, XLT and Ranger XLT.
Just like when Ford went from two-passenger to four-passenger T-Birds, the purists decried the change to the big Bronco. The bean counters made the right gamble, though, as sales of the new Bronco soared over the previous model.
Changes for 1979 were minimal. Entry-level Customs now had rectangular headlights (like all other trim lines did) and the base engine was now a two-barrel 351M for all 50 states. The F-series-based Bronco was a good enough of a seller that it not only remained in Ford’s inventory when the all-new 1980 F-series debuted, but also stayed until that platform was retired in 1996.