Will Big Oly Bronco Be The First Million Dollar Classic SUV?
It's no secret that classic cars are a big business, bringing in billions of dollars to collectors, restorers, and auction houses each year. Vintage vehicles are so lucrative that they routinely draw the attention of big-time investors, since prices have been climbing steadily and, in some cases, have had better returns than stock, art, or gold. Yes, classic cars are bona fide artifacts of the modern age, and the best examples will only become more expensive as time goes on.
While the pandemic rocked just about every aspect of the global economy, it looks it did nothing to the collector's market. Top-notch and legendary cars sell for an insane amount of money, and the best example is the iconic Bullitt Mustang.
The legendary '68 Highland Green Fastback, which had been lost for decades, resurfaced a couple of years ago, only to be sold at the Mecum auction last January for a staggering 3.74 million dollars.
Interestingly, classic SUVs are also part of this trend. Although these vehicles were used, abused and then discarded, these automotive workhorses of the past are now valuable collector's items.
We've already explained this phenomenon, and the best example is the insane prices of first-generation Broncos. If you want a perfectly restored and completely stock 1966 to 1977 Bronco, you'll need at least six figures for the purchase.
We know that's a lot of money, but it's only a starting point for the Bronco Restomod community. Modernized, much improved, and custom-built cars are going for over $300,000.
Moreover, are we on the brink of seeing a million (or multi-million) dollar classic Bronco? As crazy as it sounds, it looks like this might happen very soon.
Big Oly Bronco
There are few vehicles more iconic and more critical to the Bronco legend than Big Oly Bronco. This custom-built racing machine was victorious in the early '70s and highly influential in the off-road racing community. It started as an evolution of Baja-winning Stroppe's Broncos from the late '60s, but it turned out to be a much more successful and revolutionary vehicle. The 1969/70 season was tense for Bill Stroppe; the team won the Baja race in 1969 but also was shocked by tragedy when Richard Smith, a young racer, was killed in a Bronco. Deeply affected by this, Stroppe worked hard to make his racing Broncos safer but also faster.
The result was Big Oly Bronco, the predecessor of today's TT off-road racers. Stroppe realized that he could do only so much with standard Bronco chassis, so he decided to build an entirely new one, made out of steel tubing, that was lighter and stronger than any produced by Ford.
He also moved the engine to the center of the vehicle, creating perfect weight distribution. With a mighty 351 V8 engine, revised suspension, and brakes, Big Oly Bronco, in the hands of renowned Ford ace Parnelli Jones, dominated the 1971 and 1972 seasons.
Retirement Plan For A Race Car
Parnelli Jones is a renowned Ford race car driver who proved his talent in Trans-Am races as well as in NASCAR, but he also managed to become an off-road ace and win the gruesome Baja 1000 two years in a row.
Parnelli and Big Oly Bronco managed to win several more high-profile off-road events, such as the Mint 400 in 1973, before Jones retired in 1975, becoming the first real legend of off-road racing.
The life of retired race cars is often very sad, since once the racers become obsolete, they are discarded or broken for parts. But not Big Oly Bronco. The car was never sold and remained in Jones' possession as a prized part of his personal collection. Parnelli was always proud of his achievements, and the gold racing Bronco was often lent to museums, car shows, and various events.
Amazingly, this legendary Bronco was never restored or repainted, and it's in a fantastic, as-raced condition, which makes it a unique survivor. This doesn't mean that Big Oly Bronco is mint -- not at all-- though it still has few battle scars, but the patina is amazing, and just couldn't be recreated. Details like this make a car an irreplaceable historical piece, and Parnelli Jones was right never to restore it.
Big Oly Bronco Will the Cross Auction Block in May
After almost half of a century in Parnelli's possession, Big Oly Bronco will mark a new chapter in its saga in May, 2021. The breaking news amongst the classic car crowd is that Mr. Jones will be selling his legendary off-road racer in the Mecum Indy auction event.
This brings a fantastic and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a one-off, race-winning, globally recognizable machine that has never been restored and is still in the hands of its original owner. But, as excited as we are to see Big Oly Bronco crossing the auction block, we're a bit afraid of the potential selling price and its effects on the community.
This sale may be considered to be the culmination of the Bronco craze we've experienced in the off-road and classic car community, with the most legendary example finally being offered to the highest bidder for the first time in its history.
So far, we've seen six figures Broncos, but no SUV has ever come close to being a million-dollar machine. Since Big Oly Bronco is such a unique, legendary, and glorious vehicle, we believe that it has a chance to be just that. The first million-dollar SUV will mark the entry of the classic Broncos into the high-class collector's car society, right next to insanely expensive Ferraris from the '60s and Bugattis from the '30s.
This assumption is based on the fact that the Bronco is already the most expensive (both in stock and in restomodded form) classic SUV out of all similar models and that Big Oly Bronco is the most legendary of them all.
Also, this sale is cleverly positioned during the peak of the 2021 Bronco hype, which is certain to further motivate bidders. Besides that, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, and whoever gets Big Oly Bronco will acquire a truly unique piece of Ford and Bronco heritage. If the Bullitt Mustang auction price has taught us anything, it's that high rollers crave provenance and authenticity, and Big Oly Bronco has both in spades.
Impact On The Community
If (or when) Big Oly Bronco sells for such a high price, it would not only become a record-setting SUV, but it will also position itself as the forefront of a trend that will see the rise of prices throughout the segment.
The classic Jeep Grand Wagoneers are already expensive and could soon see six figures, as could Chevrolet Blazers, Toyota FJ Cruisers, and other classic off-road legends. However, even the news that Big Oly Bronco is going to auction is a big deal in the off-road community, and we'll have to wait until May to see just how far big-time collectors will go.