The best part of a decade passed between Land Rover’s unveiling of the ‘DC100’ concept at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and the first ‘New Defenders’ launched two years ago just as Covid hit – prompting allegations that the beefy SUV had arrived ‘just in time for Armageddon’.
For a while, thousands of column inches and hours of video dedicated to predicting what the production version would look like, how it would perform, and debating whether it could really match the rugged, ready-to-use utilitarian charm of the time-presented original.
Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, Ford America has quietly breathed new life into another dead horse by creating a 21st-century revamp of its own famous off-roader, the late Bronco that was removed from the range in 1996 after 30 years of production. Run. Ford’s decision to revive the Bronco nameplate is due in part to the fact that the original version of the car has recently become very collectible. Indeed, the ‘classic’ Broncos have attracted such cult following that one company in particular, Icon 4X4 of Chatsworth, California, offers a ground-up restoration service that adds a repair package to combine the original look with contemporary running gear and refinements that make the car more suitable for use. modern.
The Bronco had been a strong seller throughout the first quarter century of its existence, but by the early 1990s, interest had waned badly – only to be revived in 1994 when an incredible 95 million viewers tuned in to watch the Bronco being chased by up to 20 police cars with 35 mph along the I-5 freeway in Los Angeles, with soccer star OJ Simpson in the back seat holding a gun to his head. Simpson’s white Bronco became the star of the slow-speed chase, causing a sales spike that lasted a year or more before Ford picked up the model and replaced it with something more in line with the level of luxury that SUV buyers had come to expect from competing brands.
Fast forward to today, and the world of cars is very different. Now, retro looks, rugged images, and the promise of going anywhere are all the rage among a new generation of wilderness-seeking adventurers (including sleeved ones) – so Ford rightly reasoned that the up-to-date Bronco was full of design cues. from his ancestors will sell like hot cakes.
And it worked: within three weeks of the new car’s launch, it attracted 165,000 orders and, two years after launch, the production line was still struggling to keep up with demand.
Much of the appeal lies in the fact that Ford took care to evoke the look and spirit of the early 1960s and ’70s models, even giving the new car a quick-removal of doors and roof panels and reintroducing a funky paint scheme similar to the original. they are original.
And if none of the six standard ‘packages’ for which the car is available hits the spot (two and four-door versions are available, plus manual and automatic gearboxes too) Ford will direct you to a catalog of over 200 extras with which personalize your Bronco to suit your needs. make it as close to unique as possible.
The only catch is that the Broncos are – for now – only officially sold in America.
But now London-based US auto importer Clive Sutton is stepping up to the rescue of British Bronco fans by taking some across the pond – the first of which we got to drive in the less rugged Maida Vale neighborhood.
The example in question is perhaps the most conservative interpretation imaginable of a car meant to be an expression of one’s individuality: the car is finished in navy blue with a black roof and charcoal interior. However, it made many heads turn as we crawled through traffic at glacial speed, its standout feature being the front end which harks back to the old Broncos and gives the new generation model a look that sets it apart from the rest. a myriad of other SUVs on the market.
The six standard packages available are designed to appeal to different types of users, with the one we tried the more luxurious and urban-centric version of the ‘Outer Banks’ – but there is also the ‘Base’ model, the more off-road oriented ‘Big Bend’ which gets ‘GOAT’ mode transmission (over any terrain…) and ‘Wildtrack’ , ‘Black Diamond’ and ‘Badlands’ aimed at serious wilderness seekers who will make the most of off-road driving modes that range from ‘ Trail Control’ (a kind of cruise control for the ground) to Trail Turn (greater maneuverability) and ‘One-Pedal’ driving to tackle difficult terrain at slow speeds. High and low distance and front and rear locking differences also help keep things moving, while digital trail mapping makes it possible to upload off-road routes directly from the smartphone to the car’s infotainment system (and then share out-of-the-place information). that you have visited on social media). Buyers can also opt for rubber hose flooring, marine grade vinyl seats and a built-in steel cage which further demonstrates the Bronco’s serious approach to recreational automotive.
The only thing that might spoil the fun, however, is that while the Bronco ‘Base’ is listed for just $28,300 in the US, the UK version of the Sutton is definitely more expensive due to added import, homologation, and registration fees – so saddle-up your own Bronco at here will set you back at least £45,000, or as much as £85,000 for a top-spec model.
But with 500 ‘statements of interest’ already registered when Sutton announced the import plans, the key to becoming an early adopter of the British Bronco is getting your order in quickly to avoid a potential stampede.
Or at least a gentle push… See more at clivesutton.co.uk and Ford.com/suvs/bronco