The Comprehensive Guide to Buying a Ford Bronco at Auction

The Early Bronco (1966-1977), with its classic appeal and all-terrain performance, is particularly sought-after. Buying a Ford Bronco at auction can offer advantages over platforms like Facebook Marketplace, including access to a diverse range of vehicles and potentially lower prices.

Here’s an extended guide with eight tips to help you secure a First Generation Early Ford Bronco at auction.

Buying a Ford Bronco at Auction Black Classic Bronco for Sale

1. Understanding Why Auctions Over Traditional Online Platforms

Uniqueness and Variety and competitive pricing

Auctions, especially those focused on vintage and classic cars, often present some unique finds. You’re likely to find early Broncos in various conditions, ranging from pristine restorations to ‘barn finds’ that may or may not run but are ripe for a renovation project. These are some SUVs you can’t find at a dealer!

Competitive Pricing

The auction format can sometimes lead to competitive pricing, especially if you’re diligent about setting a budget and sticking to it. You might buy a Bronco for less than you’d pay in a private sale or at a dealer. Everyone loves to save money!

2. Choosing the Right Ford Bronco Auction Platform

Different auction platforms cater to different needs. Assessing your preferences can help narrow down the options.

Traditional In-Person Auctions

Events like Barrett-Jackson, Mecum, or Bonhams are renowned for classic and antique vehicles for sale. Being physically present allows you to assess the vehicle’s condition and soak up the atmosphere of a live auction. It’s certainly a fun experience but it can be a little intimidating your first time. Fun, fast-paced, and quick results!

Online Auctions

Online platforms such as Bring a Trailer, Copart, or eBay Motors offer convenience and a broad reach. They often include thorough descriptions and photographs of the listings, and some even provide condition reports. Bidding on the model Ford Bronco you want from a reputable source can really make you feel better about the Bronco you are getting.

Before participating in an auction, it’s important to understand the reputation and practices of the auction house you’re dealing with. Read reviews, understand their terms and conditions, and get a clear idea about their buyer’s premiums and payment terms. Some auction houses might also offer post-purchase services like transportation and financing.

Make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities before you bid. Bidding at an auction is a legally binding action. If you win, you’re obligated to purchase the vehicle. Ensure you know your rights and responsibilities as a bidder, including when payment is due and what happens if there’s a problem with the vehicle.

Like this 1969 Ford Bronco Restomod in Raven Black over Brown Diamond Stitched Interior. Equipped with a 5.0L Coyote V8 mated to a 10R80 ten-speed automatic transmission and an Atlas dual-range twin-stick transfer case was also installed along with a limited-slip rear differential. No expense was spared when building this incredible Bronco. 

Features include: Full Kincer Chassis, Adjustable Reactive TracTive Shocks, 4 Wheel Wilwood Disc Brakes, Krawlers Edge Sport Cage, Vintage Air AC & Heat, Atlas Billet Transfer Case, Dakota Digital Gauges, Heated Front Seats, Fold & Tumble Rear Seat, Power Windows, Power Steering, Touch Screen Multimedia Display with Bluetooth, Amp Research Power Steps, American Autowire Wiring and much more! 

There is far too much to list on this stunning Bronco. Ready to be driven and enjoyed!

This Ford Bronco was sold by

3. The Importance of Vehicle Inspection

In-person and Online Inspection

At a traditional auction, you can examine the vehicle closely. Check for rust, especially in the frame, wheel wells, and door bottoms. Open the hood to look at the engine for any leaks, corrosion, or odd noises. Don’t forget to check the interior for any signs of water damage or excessive wear. These trucks are usually well used so it’s up to you to put in the work to know if the Bronco will work for you.

For online auctions, scrutinize the listing images and description. If the platform provides a condition report, study it carefully. You might also hire a local independent service to inspect the car for you, providing an unbiased opinion on its condition.

Learn to Read The Warranty Plate on an Early Ford Bronco

The warranty plate, also known as the data plate or VIN plate, is located in the front-end glove box of early Ford Broncos. It’s a small metallic plate that carries crucial information about the vehicle. This includes details about the vehicle’s manufacturing and original equipment.

The warranty plate is organized into several sections, each with a series of codes that correspond to specific details about the vehicle. Let’s break down what you can find on this plate:

  1. Warranty Number (Vehicle Identification Number – VIN): This is the most crucial piece of information. It is a unique number given to every vehicle, which helps identify the vehicle’s history. It’s broken down into several components:
    • The first three characters indicate the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI) that represents the vehicle’s manufacturer and country of origin.
    • The next five characters represent the vehicle’s attributes, such as body type and engine code.
    • The ninth character is a check digit to verify the accuracy of the previous VIN numbers.
    • The tenth character represents the model year of the vehicle.
    • The eleventh character shows the assembly plant.
    • The last six characters are the sequential production number.
  2. Body: This code corresponds to the body style of the vehicle.
  3. Color: This code indicates the original exterior color of the vehicle.
  4. Trim: This is the code for the original interior color and material.
  5. Date: This is the date the vehicle was manufactured.
  6. DSO (District Sales Office): This code indicates the sales region for which the vehicle was originally intended.
  7. Axle: This refers to the rear axle ratio and type.
  8. Trans: This code signifies the type of transmission installed in the vehicle.

By understanding how to read the warranty plate, you can verify a Bronco’s original features and confirm whether any changes have been made since it left the factory. This can be particularly useful when purchasing a classic Bronco, as it helps authenticate the vehicle and can impact its value.

Learn to Read the Warranty Plate on an Early Ford Bronco

Here is an example where you can see all the details:

  • U15 – U-100 Bronco Wagon
  • G – 302ci V8
  • L – Built at Michigan truck assembly plant
  • E04728 – Production sequence number
  • 092 – 92″ wheelbase
  • Color: A – Raven Black
  • Model: U150 – Bronco wagon
  • Transmission: C – Three-speed manual transmission
  • Axle: B8 – 3.50:1 limited-slip rear differential
  • DSO: 15 – Newark, New Jersey, district sales office

4. Understanding Auction Terminology

Knowing key auction terms can enhance your bidding experience. For instance, “reserve” refers to the minimum price the seller is willing to accept. 

“No reserve car auctions” means the vehicle will be sold to the highest bidder, regardless of the final price. “Buyer’s premium” is an additional fee charged by the auction house, usually a percentage of the winning bid.

5. Deciding Between Restored vs. Salvaged Broncos

This decision boils down to your personal preferences, budget, and actual mechanical skills.

Restored Broncos

Restored Broncos have typically been overhauled and refreshed, offering an immediate, ready-to-drive experience. If you desire an “off-the-lot” experience and are willing to pay for it, a restored Bronco is an excellent choice.

Salvaged Broncos

A salvaged Bronco, often cheaper, provides a blank canvas for customization. You might really have to search for one of these. There are a lot of buyers out there buying a wrecked Bronco and then quickly fixing it up and trying to sell it for a profit. Buying one of these Broncos can be a fulfilling project if you have the necessary mechanical skills or are willing to pay for professional restoration.

We believe that starting with one of our chassis really gets you 10 steps ahead in the build process and can potentially save you thousands of hours if you’re trying to do it yourself. Even more, if you buy an Adventure Series Rolling Chassis. There’s something truly reassuring knowing that your frame and all the components that are the foundation for your Bronco are new and have been built correctly.

Black Early Bronco For Sale at Online Auction

7. Mastering the Bidding Process

Research and Finding A Clean Title Ford Bronco For Sale

Prior to the auction, research the market value of the early Bronco models, know all the generations and the differences, and consider factors such as condition, mileage, and any modifications. Use this knowledge to set your maximum bid limit. Being able to find a Bronco that you want to buy is just half the battle.

Patience and Bid Strategy

Bidding can be thrilling, but it’s important to stay patient. Don’t jump in with a bid as soon as the auction starts. Let the auctioneer and other bidders set the pace initially. Being patient can help prevent the price from skyrocketing prematurely. 

Watch the current bid and know the results of some previous auctions. Online auctions can help you set a max bid and will bid in increments for you. Be ready to let a vehicle go if the price exceeds your budget. Always have a backup choice in case your primary option slips away.

Once you do start bidding, do so confidently. Use your body language to show other bidders that you’re determined to win. However, keep your budget in mind at all times.

Winning the Auction

Once you’ve won the bid, you’ll typically need to secure the payment quickly. Ensure you’re familiar with the auction house’s payment terms.

1969 Ford Bronco Sold At Bring A Trailer Online Auction

8. Getting Your Ford Bronco Home After An Auction

Winning a Ford Bronco at an auction is only half the battle – the next step is getting it home. Here’s how to do it, whether you’re participating in an in-person or online auction.

In-Person Auctions

After successfully bidding for your Bronco at a live auction, you have several options:

Drive It Home

If the vehicle is in running condition and meets all legal requirements (like insurance, registration, and safety standards), you might be able to drive it home. However, if the auction is far from your home or if the vehicle needs work before it’s road-ready, this might not be the best choice.

Hire a Transportation Service or Use the Auction House’s Transportation Services

Professional auto transport companies can move your vehicle safely and efficiently. You can opt for either open or enclosed transport, but keep in mind that enclosed transport, while offering more protection, is generally more expensive.

Some auction houses offer their own transportation services. They can arrange the transport of your Bronco, sometimes even offering door-to-door service.

Online Auctions

For online auctions, the process of getting your Bronco home is slightly different:

Arrange for Transportation or Use the Auction Platform’s Partnered Shipping

Since you can’t physically drive the vehicle home, you’ll need to arrange for transport. This usually means hiring an auto transportation company. As with in-person auctions, you can choose between open or enclosed transport.

Some online auction platforms have partnerships with shipping companies and can help arrange transportation for you. This can simplify the process, as you’ll only have to coordinate with one organization.

General Tips

Regardless of whether you’re participating in an in-person or online auction, keep the following tips in mind:

Insure Your Vehicle

Make sure your vehicle is covered by insurance before it’s transported. This will protect you in case of any damages during transit. Protect yourself and your investment.

Document the Condition of the Vehicle and Be Patient

Before your Bronco is moved, document its condition with photos or videos. This can be helpful if any disputes about damages arise later. Check the odometer and check it again when you get the Bronco home! You don’t want to be surprised by anyone trying to sneak in a joy ride before the Bronco you purchased is delivered.

You want to know if the Bronco you buy will be ready to drive when you get it home so if you have a trusted mechanic and you know your mechanical limits, then we suggest taking it to them to look everything over.

Transporting a vehicle can take time, especially if it’s being moved over long distances. Patience is key during this process.

By planning ahead and considering these tips, you can ensure your newly acquired Ford Bronco arrives home safely and without any unnecessary hassle. Save your sanity and be happy! You’ll be driving or building your Early Ford Bronco soon!


Buying an early Bronco at an auction can be an exciting and rewarding experience. You can secure a piece of automotive history with diligent research, careful inspection, and savvy bidding. 

Whether you’re captivated by the nostalgia of a restored Bronco or excited by the potential of a salvage vehicle, remember: the journey is part of the adventure. Make sure to see our other articles if you want to learn more about Early Broncos! We’re always adding more information to help you have more fun in your Early Bronco journey. 

Now go win that auction!

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