The value of old SUVs has continued to climb since we first started noticing this trend years ago. I’m convinced that in the not-too-distant future, anything with four-wheel drive that looks vaguely rugged will be selling for too much money. A year ago I would have said “except for the Bronco II,” but now I’m not so sure.
In southern California, which leads the charge on overpricing used cars, first-generation Ford Broncos, Series Land Rovers and all Toyota Land Cruisers are all expensive enough to make your eyeballs explode at this point. K5 Chevy Blazers are not too far behind. Jeeps are still affordable by virtue of having been built in such great quantities, and Scouts are just too crappy to catch the eyes of collectors. Range Rover Classics are also well within most people’s means to buy, as long as you’re prepared to look after them.
As “traditionally” vintage trucks get rarer, new classics like Jeep Cherokee XJs and “OJ-style” Broncos have been creeping up in price, too. Let’s keep it focused on the Fords for now.
I already mentioned, and you probably already know, that the early ones are meteorically expensive. The much larger “full-size” Broncos of the 70s will get seriously expensive soon too, because they retain some key design cues that make it look “classic” today.
The last iteration of the Bronco, which most people recognize as the co-star of OJ Simpson’s 1994 police chase, is also picking up steam in the used market due to its popularity in the off-road scene.
At last week’s Baja 1000, I must have seen 15 or 20 of these things modified for desert pre-running. And lots of hardcore desert drivers swear by them. The strong frame, V8, healthy aftermarket and short-but-not-too-short wheelbase makes them good candidates for Baja adventuring.
What I didn’t see was a single Bronco II. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw one anywhere.
My first conclusion was that they were too crappy to survive, and too worthless to preserve. But a casual Craigslist search surprised me- while I would have guessed there would be dozens of them for sale for $500 to $2,000, most asking prices seem closer to $5,000. And some have been preserved!
If that last link is dead by the time you read this, it was a listing for a remarkably well-maintained ’88 Bronco II with an $8,500(!) asking price.
As I head deeper into this black hole of Bronco II research and window shopping, something else has happened: I’m starting to think these small SUVs actually look pretty sweet.
A few years ago, I would have dismissed the diminutive Bronco II as an also-ran and reckoned they should all be left to rot. But as the cachet of classic 4x4s builds momentum, and with the Ford Bronco nameplate about to get a bump in relevance with the lead-up to and release of the 2020 model, I’m seriously starting to wonder if these unloved little things will enjoy a second coming of coolness.
The point of this post, obviously, is to get you to weigh in on the theory I’m formulating here. I don’t think too many people think much of the Bronco II now, but think about it: does this model have a future as a classic?