Unsung Heroes - Top 5 Classic Broncos Working For A Living
A given vehicle's real value is demonstrated not just by sales figures or the number of years it stayed on the market. It's also demonstrated through its ability to transcend the limits of its design and be adapted to many uses that weren't part of the original plan. Even though Ford first envisioned the Bronco as a vehicle for campers, hunters, and outdoorsy customers, it wasn't long after its introduction that the Bronco started "working for a living" -- being put into use by countless commercial entities, as well as law enforcement agencies.
Its unique set of capabilities, compact dimensions, and mechanical layout that readily adapted to modifications proved to be ideal for a wide variety of purposes.
Today we'll tell you more about the five coolest working Broncos -- the unsung heroes of the classic Bronco world. Knowing just how capable, usable, and cool the new Bronco is, we're sure that the newest version will indeed find its way into commercial fleets as soon as full-scale production starts later this year.
Ford Bronco Military
During the '60s, military Jeeps were the predominant light tactical vehicles in the US military's arsenal. However, the introduction of the 1966 Bronco inspired the military to give this Ford a chance, and the Pentagon ordered 120 military-spec Broncos -- all painted in signature green color and divided amongst the Navy, Army, and Air Force.
Most of them were used for testing purposes in bases all over the country, but apparently, some were sent overseas. There are no official records confirming that the military-edition Bronco ever saw combat, but it probably did, since some were shipped to Vietnam. Today, surviving examples are scarce.
Ford Bronco U14 Tow Truck
The Half Cab pickup version enjoyed substantial popularity during the '60s. With its small truck bed and compact dimensions, the U14 (chassis code) proved to be very useful as a farm vehicle or light delivery truck. But most of them were used as tow trucks, since it didn't require many modifications to mount a hitch and use it to tow vehicles.
With its gross vehicle weight of under 4000 pounds, the Bronco U14 Tow Truck couldn't pull big vehicles, but it was perfectly suited for cars and similarly sized trucks. Even though Ford stopped making the Half Cab version in the early '70s, U14s soldiered on as tow trucks for decades afterward.
Ford Bronco Police
Older Bronco fans might recall that back in the day, Ford offered a police spec Bronco as part of its Special Service Program to law enforcement and government agencies all over America.
The Bronco was commonly used as a patrol car during the winter in northern parts of the country and as a border patrol vehicle in Arizona and New Mexico. All Bronco generations featured a law enforcement version which often saw real world use. Since the US Border Patrol currently uses Ford Raptors, we believe that they might switch to Broncos in the near future.
Ford Bronco Plow Truck
Immediately after the original Bronco's release in 1966, customers realized that its incredible traction from an all-wheel-drive system, compact dimensions, and plentiful torque from its V8 engine made the early Bronco a perfect plow vehicle. Ford didn't offer this conversion straight from the factory, but buyers could get their local dealer to sell and mount the plowing kit to be used in the winter.
Ford Bronco Popemobile
While the serving Pope has used luxury vehicles for over a hundred years, the term "Popemobile" was coined in 1979 during the papal visit to the United States.
Back in those days, during such events Pope John Paul II generally used a fixed-roof car, but for this occasion, Ford Motor Company offered to provide him with unique transport – a brand new, 1980 Ford Bronco. This was the first time a Pope would be driven in a 4x4, and there were several reasons for this.
For starters, the 1980 Bronco was one of the very few vehicles with a removable rear section of the roof, which made it convenient for the Pope to stand and greet the crowd. Second, due to the fact that Bronco had higher ground clearance than most vehicles, the white SUV would stand tall amongst other cars in the motorcade.
Of course, since the papal visit was a big deal, Ford didn't miss the chance to promote its new model. The press liked this marketing move and started using the term "Popemobile," which caught on and is still used today.