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The OJ Effect? How the '80s & '90s Ford Bronco Became One the Hottest Collector SUVs

The Ford Bronco is one of the hottest vehicles around, and it's been that way for some time now. The classic, first generation models from the ‘60s and ‘70s have long been favorites among collectors and restomodders alike, and the brand new, retro-styled version is one of Ford’s most popular products in recent memory.

Ford Bronco 1990s Black

An Emerging Classic

But in between the timeless style of the classic Broncos and the brand new version (which is flying off of dealer lots as fast as Ford can make them), another type of Bronco has seen big gains in popularity and value—and those would be the ones from late ‘80s through mid ‘90s.

Ford Bronco Gold

Technically these models are considered both the fourth and fifth generations of the Bronco, but because of their similar underpinnings and shared look, it’s easier to group them as one.

Ford Bronco 1990s Red

The last of the two-door Broncos, these hit the market for the 1987 model year with a look based on the F-150 pickup of the same year. While many might consider these to be fairly modern vehicles, SUVs of the ‘80s were a lot different than the SUVs of today.

A "Real" SUV

Rather than a spacious hauler with room for the whole family and all of their gear, the Bronco was a relatively compact vehicle designed for off-road recreation as much as it was running around town.

Ford Bronco Silver Black Top

More akin to a Jeep Wrangler than to a large SUV, the Broncos of the ‘80s and ‘90s continued the tradition of having a lift-off hardtop, although later in the run additional top mounts were added for safety reasons, and it became a lot less common to see them running around topless.

Ford Bronco Interior 1990s

Engine choices included Ford’s 4.9 liter inline-six as a base engine, though the 5.0 and 5.8 liter small block V8s were much more common.

As you’d expect, these Broncos were popular among hobbyists and off-roaders, though as the years went on the idea of a two-door, specialty SUV became harder and harder to sell.

Ford Bronco Blue and White

1996 would be the last model year for the Bronco, with its spot in Ford’s lineup being taken by the Expedition SUV which shared F-150 underpinnings but was a larger, more traditional contemporary SUV with four-doors and tons of cargo space.

Ford Bronco Black and Tan

And that was the end of the Bronco story—at least until Ford decided to revive the nameplate in all its glory about 25 years later.

A Cultural Icon

But even after they left production, the appreciation for the fourth and fifth-gen Broncos remained, and with the infamous OJ Simpson slow-speed car chase, the Bronco achieved a new level of cultural recognition.

Ford Bronco Green Tan

In recent years, as collector interest in vehicles from the ‘80s and ‘90s has gone up, the Ford Broncos of this era have become very in-demand, and their asking prices reflect that.

Ford Bronco Black Towing Boat

Is this purely due to people rediscovering their appreciation for the simple, robust SUVs of the ‘80s and ’90s, or is this a case of the Bronco nameplate popularity tide lifting all ships? Most likely it’s both.

Ford Bronco In River

Whatever the case, if you haven’t looked in a while prices for ‘80s and ‘90s Broncos can be hard to believe. Running but rough examples often have asking prices exceeding $10,000. Clean drivers can be $15,000 and extra nice, original examples are $20,000-25,000 easily.

Ford Bronco Black and Silver

It’s hard to say whether they will keep rising at the rates they have been, but the days of picking up a cheap example as an off-road project are gone for good.

2021 Ford Bronco RTR on Nitto Ridge Grappler Tires

Whether brand new, ‘60s vintage or somewhere in the middle, Bronco mania looks like it’s here to stay. Now we just wonder if the Bronco II will be the next model to blow up?

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