In the automotive world, few vehicles have made as lasting an impact as the 1966 Ford Bronco. This iconic vehicle was originally envisioned and sold by Ford as a do-it-all workhorse, equally at home on city streets, dirt trails, ranch lands, or construction sites.
Models to Choose From
In its debut year, the Bronco was offered in three distinct body styles and trim packages all at an affordable price:
- Roadster (U13): This variant provided an unmatched open-air experience, ideal for those with an adventurous spirit.
- Sports Utility (U14): Featuring a short pickup bed behind the front seats, it combined functionality with style.
- Wagon (U15): A fully enclosed SUV model that over time became a fan favorite.
When the Ford Bronco debuted in 1966, it was a bold leap into uncharted territory for Ford. The company’s vision was to create a multi-purpose car that could serve various needs – a utility vehicle that was neither a conventional car nor a truck.
This vision and appearance of the Bronco were influenced by the emerging market trends for Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) at the time, which saw customers seeking rugged, versatile vehicles with a drivetrain that could handle both on-road and off-road conditions.
Found a 1966 Ford Bronco For Sale? What To Look For In New Listings
Read this post on 6 things to check when you’re buying a used Bronco.
Remember, buying a classic car like the 1966 Ford Bronco is not just a purchase, it’s an investment. So, take your time, do your research, and make sure it’s the right one for you.
Who was the Bronco Made For?
The Outdoorsman: In 1966, the Bronco was your gateway to untouched landscapes. Its confident all-wheel drive effortlessly navigated through nature’s challenges, while the unique Mono-Beam front suspension (also known as solid axle front suspension) and unmatched turning radius ensured a smooth ride. Today, it remains an off-roader’s dream, reminding us of the adventures that lie beyond the beaten path.
City Driving: Perfectly designed for city use, the Bronco maneuvered effortlessly in compact spaces, operated cost-effectively, and handled stop-and-go traffic with ease. It offered ample cargo space for all your essentials, made easily accessible by a wide tailgate and a one-hand-operated latch.
Farm and Ranch Reliability: For ranchers of the 1960s, the Bronco was the trusted workhorse. Equipped with specialized tools, it could tackle a range of tasks from timber cutting to cattle herding. Today, its legacy as a versatile ranch vehicle still stands, offering a blend of utility capability and rugged charm.
The Contractor’s Best Friend: Construction supervisors in 1966 loved the Bronco for its swift mobility across uneven terrains. Its durability meant it was ever-ready, saving valuable time on-site. Even now, in a world of modern machines, the Bronco’s ruggedness and dependability make it a timeless asset.
Service Station Essential: The Bronco was the go-to vehicle for service station owners. Whether it was for quick part deliveries or assisting stranded cars, its adaptability was unmatched. Today, its multifunctionality serves as a reminder of simpler times, when one vehicle catered to numerous needs and delivered them with style.
Rally Enthusiast’s Dream: The thrill of rallying found a true companion in the Bronco. Its robust engine and state-of-the-art transmission made it a favorite in cross-country races. Today, while vehicles have evolved, the Bronco’s spirit of adventure and competition remains undiminished, beckoning rally enthusiasts to experience its unmatched legacy.
1966 Ford Bronco’s Engine Options
Six Cylinder: The Bronco’s standard 170-cu. in. engine, boasting 105 horsepower, was the most powerful among any comparable American-built utility vehicles of its time. This engine promised both a lot of raw power for challenging terrains and smooth performance for highway cruising.
Bigger V8 Power: By mid-March 1966, all Bronco models had the option to purchase or upgrade to a 289-cu. in. V-8 engine. Delivering a robust 200 horsepower, this engine wasn’t just a favorite among rally drivers but catered to all kinds of enthusiasts. Whether you were pulling a trailer, transporting fellow adventure-seekers, or tackling chores on a ranch, this engine had the power to spare.
The 1966 Ford Bronco was available with either a 3-speed manual or a 3-speed automatic transmission. This gave drivers the flexibility to choose the driving experience they preferred, further adding to the Bronco’s appeal.
Bronco Accessories: Dealership-Installed Enhancements
These accessories allowed Ford to cater to a wide range of consumer needs, from those looking for a basic utility vehicle to those seeking a fully-equipped off-roader. Each accessory added a layer of functionality, versatility, or comfort, making the Bronco a highly customizable vehicle
- Convertible Top with Vinyl Doors and Plastic Windows: Opt for a full-length, foldable vinyl convertible top and accompanying vinyl doors with clear plastic windows for your Roadster.
- Handrail, Inside: Enhance safety and convenience with attractive chrome handrails, especially appreciated on steep terrains.
- Power Take-Off: Equip your Bronco to operate a range of auxiliary equipment, either front or rear-mounted.
- Compass: Navigate with ease, especially off-road or in dense forests, with an added compass.
- Free-Running Hubs: Save on front axle wear in 2-wheel drive with WARN free-running hubs.
- 2-Way Radio: Stay connected with your home base or fellow adventurers with a dealer-installed 2-way radio.
- Snowplow: Transform your Ford Bronco into a winter warrior with an adjustable snowplow. An additional power-angling kit is also available.
- Front Overload Air Springs: For increased capacity and snowplow service, overload air springs can be added to the front coil springs.
- Trailer Hitch: Unleash the Bronco’s towing potential with a trailer hitch.
- Front-Mounted Winch: Equip your Bronco with an 8000-pound-capacity winch, boasting 150 feet of ¼-inch cable.
- Tachometer: Optimize gear efficiency with a dash-mounted tachometer, especially valuable for rallies.
You Could Customize Your Bronco
Optional Ford Bronco Custom Equipment Package:
- Chrome bumpers (front & rear)
- Armrests (RH & LH) – Available with door models
- Bright-metal taillight bezels
- Cigar-cigarette lighter
- Chrome horn ring
- Padded sun visors (RH & LH)
- Bright-metal wheel covers (15* wheels only)
Bronco Standard Convenience Features:
- Weatherproof roofing and windshield seals
- Padded dash
- Seat belts
- Elevated front floor
- Large door windows for the Sports Utility and Wagon
- Left-hand outside rearview mirror
- Lockable liftgate for the Wagon
- Turn signals
- Dual windshield wipers equipped with dual vacuum motors and non-glare wiper arms
- Windshield washers
- Vinyl-covered rubber floor mat
Ford wasn’t just about delivering quality vehicles; they stood by them. The 1966 Ford Bronco came with the best warranty of any vehicle of its price or its type. For 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever milestone was reached first, Ford promised free replacement (including labor) for any part with a material or workmanship defect. However, tires were exceptions, with adjustments being managed by tire companies.
Seating Options Included a Rear Seat
When it came to seating, the Bronco was as versatile as it was stylish. The Roadster, true to its breezy nature, began with just the front bucket seats. In contrast, the Sports Utility offered bench seats, and for those who knew they would ride with a full house, the Wagon came with an optional rear seat (bench), comfortably seating up to five passengers.
Standard Front Bench Seat
Every Bronco comes equipped with a spacious three-person bench seat at the front. Remarkably roomy for a utility vehicle, it provides a generous five-inch seat travel, ensuring comfort on every journey. Comes with two sets of robust seat belts included as standard. Since most customers opted for Bucket seats, a bench seat in a wagon or roadster model is exceptionally rare.
Deluxe Front Bucket Seats
Those seeking added luxury in their Ford Bronco can opt for the sleek bucket seats. You can choose a matching set or, if you’d prefer, equip your Bronco with a single bucket seat, keeping the right side open for flexibility.
Sporty Combo: Bucket & Bench
For a sportier vibe, choose the combination of front bucket seats paired with a matching rear bench seat. This configuration removes the steel bulkhead, providing easy movement between the front and rear. The rear bench seat comfortably hosts two passengers, ensuring everyone rides in style.
Off-road Competition Standout
Not long after the 1966 Ford Bronco debut, it swiftly clinched top honors in many off-road challenges. From the start of its initial races to present-day events, the Bronco has secured an impressive array of victories. Over the years, it’s been the chosen ride for renowned racers such as Parnelli Jones, Bill Stroppe, James Garner, Rod Hall, and several other famous drivers in the racing world.
Short Wheelbase Had a Purpose In The 1966 Ford Bronco
You might wonder why the Bronco was created with a noticeably short wheelbase. Far from a design quirk, this intentional choice ensured unparalleled agility on rugged terrains. Its compact design meant tighter turns, proving invaluable in unpredictable landscapes. Also, the axles being placed so close to the front and rear of the chassis provided for optimal approach and departure angles. We have more posts if you want to learn more about Early Broncos!
The 1966 Ford Bronco became one of the timeless classics, renowned for its ruggedness and versatility. Today, enthusiasts have the opportunity to elevate this icon by integrating modern upgrades.
High-performance engines and smoother transmissions can boost its power while maintaining its off-road charm. Enhanced suspension systems offer improved handling, and interior upgrades add comfort and convenience without sacrificing its classic appeal.
As such, the Bronco continues to evolve as both a vintage marvel and a modern enthusiast vehicle, ensuring its cultural significance endures well into the future.
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