Ford Authority

Original Ford Bronco Was Almost Called The Wrangler, Among Other Names

Today, it’s hard to imagine the original Ford Bronco being called anything other than, well, the Bronco. But like every other vehicle ever created, the team who created the Ford Bronco considered a number of names before landing on the one we all know and love. And that process, along with a slew of other fascinating information on the original Ford Bronco, was recently uncovered in an excellent historical piece from Hagerty.

While digging through Ford’s archives, Hagerty discovered that The Blue Oval considered a number of other names for the Bronco. They included Bravo, Caballero, Custom, Explorer, Gaucho, Rustler, Sprint, and Trail Blazer. But the most interesting of all, naturally, was Wrangler. We can’t even begin to imagine a world where the Ford Wrangler would be doing battle with the Jeep whatever, but it could have happened.

Another interesting tidbit Hagerty discovered relates to the second-gen Bronco, which didn’t debut until 1978 as a full-size SUV based on the Ford F-Series line of pickups. Apparently, Ford originally planned to launch the new Bronco, dubbed “Project Shorthorn,” in 1974. The oil crisis put an end to those plans, which led to a multi-year delay and ultimately a two-year-only run for the second-gen model.

1974 Ford Bronco “Project Shoehorn”

The Shorthorn Bronco looked much different than either the first or second-gen production models, something like a cross between the original SUV and an F-Series pickup of the time. Truthfully, it’s a pretty cool looking machine, and now we’re pretty bummed that it never saw the light of day.

And that’s just a small sampling of the many cool factoids that lie within Ford’s Bronco history vault. The automaker spent a great deal of time in here as it was bringing the Bronco back to life for the 2021 model year, looking to ensure that the new version contained the DNA that made the original so special. And in the process, it conjured up some pretty fascinating pieces of history, too.

We’ll have more interesting historical stories like this soon, so be sure to subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford Bronco news and around-the-clock Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Scott Brown

    The things and ideas Engineers and designers “considered or tried” and then “rejected or changed” prior to the vehicles launch, are not part of a given vehicles “DNA”.
    Any more than the four guy’s your Mom slept with her sophomore year of college before she met your biological father, are you step dad’s.
    That whole genetic, family tree, descriptive term is beyond cliche. These are machines engineeed and manufactured.
    One or two interesting things about the published image of the white Bronco roadster in the article is that I noticed a small circular decal with the number “30” imprinted in the upper left corner of the windshield and the daylight visible through the right wheel well. This is probably an early pilot production body that was one of the approximate 200 that Ford would build at the Pilot plant on Oakwood Blvd. They would place a sequential identity on each one as they worked out the bugs in a new assembly process. As the process was developed and refined the pilot production vehicles became more complete, eventually drivable. This one is very early if it’s number thirty. I have been at the pilot plant and the image looks like it was taken on either the east side or north side of the building. I believe it’s the pilot plant because of the low height of the building. The production plants are huge structures that you would not be able to see the top of if you were taking a close up photo of a vehicle next to it. Just my observation.

  2. Jeffrey D. Sproul

    I like the Bronco trucklett. Wish they made something like that today in a regular or extended cab.


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