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1966-1977 Ford Bronco

1967 and 1968 Ford Bronco

The 1967 and 1968 Ford Bronco was little changed from the 1966 model. The standard engine in 1967 was still the 170-cubic-inch six, with the 289 V-8 as an option. The sports utility was renamed the pickup in 1967.

Improvements were the addition of variable-speed windshield wipers, dual master brake cylinder, self-adjusting brakes, and backup lights.

The options list expanded to include such items as bodyside and tailgate moldings, a fancier horn ring, and bright trim, for the instrument panel and headlight and taillight bezels. These features and more were included in the Sport Package, a $189 dress-up option for the pickup and wagon.

Still, 1967 production declined by more than 9,500 units to 14,230, including 698 roadsters, 2,602 pickups, and 10,930 wagons.

For 1968, a new spare tire carrier was located on the outside. Front bumpers had curved rather than squared ends, and -- as federal safety regulations began taking effect -- side marker lights were added to the front fenders, reflectors to the rear quarters. Revisions to interior door and window hardware made them safer for occupants.

Free-running front hubs now had better lubrication sealing and improved operation. Kingpins were upgraded for longer life. A heater and defroster were now standard.

The slow-selling roadster was dropped after the 1968 model year, meaning that the most basic of all Broncos is the rarest and one of the most collectible now.

Underscoring the popularity of the early Bronco were the Baja 500 and Mexican 1,000 races. The first Mexican 1,000 was held October 31, 1967. The field included motorcycles, cars, Jeeps, dune buggies, specialty vehicles, and Broncos on the run from Tijuana to La Paz, which actually worked out to about 900 miles.

One Bronco was built by Bill Stroppe, who had prepared the factory Lincolns for the 1952-1954 Mexican road races. (Stroppe had already campaigned Broncos at Riverside, California, and by now he was highly skilled at preparing them.)

The Baja Bronco had a full-cage roll bar, wide wheels with big tires, seat belts and harness, extra shocks, and rally lights for night driving. The engine was tweaked to the hilt.

Stroppe's Bronco was driven by Ray Harvick. He and Stroppe started out in the lead, but were soon mired in mud after helping competitors free their Jeep. Later, they flipped and sand worked its way into the timing chain. The chain gave out about 50 miles from La Paz, thus ending Stroppe's first Baja race.

Stroppe was undaunted, and Ford was a willing sponsor despite the Bronco's failure to finish. For the 1968 event, Stroppe had 1963 Indianapolis 500 champion Parnelli Jones as his driver.

Jones was not used to off-road racing; he treated Broncos like Indy cars and pushed them much too hard. He broke a wheel and spindle about 150 miles into the race.

This did not phase Ford, though, considering Ak Miller and Ray Brock won the two-wheel-drive production class in an F-100 pickup.

Off-road racing began catching on in 1969. A 500-miler was added to the Baja schedule. Meanwhile, in Nevada, there was the Mint 400, sponsored by the Mint Hotel in Las Vegas. Stroppe had Jones for the Mint 400, plus Al and Bobby Unser.

Find more details about the Ford Bronco's racing history on the next page.

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