Conspiracy Theory: Ford's Bronco Concept Car Was Actually Based On A South African Chevy

I should come right out and say that I have zero actual evidence to support this wild theory, other than the striking visual similarities you’ll see here. But those visual similarities are really, really hard to ignore, and I just can’t keep quiet any longer. This wild theory is that Ford’s well-known 2004 Bronco concept car did not actually base its design on the old Bronco, but rather on an obscure South African Chevy SUV called the Nomad.

Now before you buy a bus ticket and email me so you can set up an appointment to throw a folding chair at me in person, I implore you to look at the visual evidence here.


First, let’s look at the alleged source for the 2004 concept, the original, iconic 1966 Ford Bronco:

A classic, right? The original Bronco was a fantastic design, clean and simple and rugged looking, yet quite stylish. Everyone loves the original Bronco. That’s why it was such a big deal when, in 2004, Ford showed a modernized version that got everyone excited about the possibilities of a reborn Bronco:


Fantastic, right? J Mays and his team of designers over at Ford did an incredible job re-interpreting the classic Bronco and re-writing it with a modern design vocabulary. The proportions certainly echoed the original, and that roofline and rear quarter window sure feel like the original.

But that six-sided front fascia treatment, the grille and light design, that all seems new and different, right? It doesn’t really look like the old Bronco. It must be just an all-new design concept, right?


Maybe. Or maybe it was very heavily inspired by this:


That’s a 1976 Chevrolet Nomad, only available in South Africa. If you can’t see the similarities in the front end design, at least, then I’d suggest you either open your eyes, put on your glasses, or rotate your head to face this screen. Whatever works.


The Nomad was designed (locally designed in South Africa, even) to be a rugged, easy-to-produce (hence the lack of any curved body panels) utility vehicle. It was only RWD, getting its modest 86 horsepower from a 2.5-liter inline four.

A review from the era pegged the 0-62 mph speed at a nearly comatose 38.6 seconds, but the Nomad wasn’t designed for speed, it was designed to be a rough, go-anywhere brute, and while it almost was, there were front suspension issues that prevented it from really taking off.


But that’s not important to my main point, which is that Ford’s 2004 Bronco concept really, really looks like a modern concept car-version of the South African Chevy Nomad, more so than the original Bronco.


I mean, look at those cars right up there. If you didn’t know the names of any of those cars, which one of the lower cars would you say the top, modern car was designed to resemble?


Sure, this could all be a case of convergent evolution; the angled-up shape for the lower corners of an off-road vehicle certainly makes sense, after all.

But could it be possible that back in 2004 a Ford designer may have gotten some inspiration from an unlikely source? I think it’s possible, and, what’s more, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The resulting concept car was fantastic, and a little bit of obscure cross-pollination of design often creates interesting solutions.


Also, Chevy, maybe you can buy the 2004 Ford design since I don’t think the upcoming new Bronco will look like that? A new Nomad would be pretty sweet, right?

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)