Big Oly Bronco Sets The World Record For Most Expensive Classic SUV!
The rise in the prices of classic SUVs has been the talk of the classic car community for several years now. Modern collectors are crazy about Toyota FJ Cruisers, Jeep Wagoneers, International Scouts, and classic Land Rover Defenders. Their combination of proven mechanics, boxy and utilitarian design, and do-anything attitude seems to be worth a lot to wealthy enthusiasts.
Once workhorses, those rugged vehicles are now garage queens and prized possessions worthy of the Pebble Beach Concours d Elegance. However, the Ford Bronco is arguably at the top of this classic vehicle food chain, as it boasts the most substantial number of fans, garners the highest prices, and has an entire aftermarket industry behind it.
There are a few good reasons why classic Broncos are getting increasingly expensive, with the first one being their rarity. Between 1966 and 1977, Ford produced exactly 207,347 units of the first-generation Bronco. Ford sold the most Broncos in its first production year – 23,776 – and 1975 was its worst year with just 13,125 vehicles delivered to customers.
Some models, like the Bronco Roadster (chassis code U13) are very rare and highly sought-after. Most high-priced classic cars are too valuable to be driven and instead spend their days in climate control garages and are rarely taken for a drive.
If you have a classic Bronco in perfect working condition, it's still a great idea to go off-roading – after all, this is what it was built for. Even though classic Broncos are valuable, they're still as usable as ever and should be driven as they were intended.
Of course, let's not forget the cool factor -- classic Broncos have that in abundance, and we've known that for a long time, but mainstream collectors, hipsters, and investors, have only recently discovered it.
Over the last couple of years, more and more celebrities have started driving classic Broncos and spending big bucks on restored and modified examples. Their rugged charm, boxy design, powerful engine options, and stout off-road capabilities have made them very popular, and well-off buyers started infusing money into the Bronco community, which has resulted in an increasing number of high-end builds and overall rising prices.
Big Oly Bronco holds a special place in the In the classic Bronco world. This custom-built racing machine was consistently victorious in the early '70s and was highly influential in the off-road racing community. It started as an evolution of Baja-winning Stroppe's Broncos from the late '60s, but turned out to be a much more successful and revolutionary vehicle than anticipated.
The Big Oly Bronco was the predecessor of today's TT off-road racers. Stroppe realized that he could do only so much with the 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.
Propelled by a mighty 351 V8 engine with 390 hp, as well as a revised suspension and brakes, Big Oly Bronco, in the hands of renowned Ford ace Parnelli Jones, dominated the 1971 and 1972 seasons.
Parnelli and Big Oly Bronco managed to win two Baja 1000 races and several more high-profile off-road events, such as the Mint 400 in 1973, before retiring in 1975 and 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 usually discarded or broken down for parts. But not Big Oly Bronco. The car was never sold and remained in Jones' possession and in his personal collection.
Parnelli was always proud of his achievements, and his 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. Almost 50 years after it was competitively raced for the last time, Parnelli Jones' most legendary race car was offered to the highest bidder on the 21st of May, 2021. In a fierce bidding war between high-profile collectors, the iconic gold off-road racer fetched the incredible price of 1.7 million dollars, becoming the most expensive classic SUV ever to be sold! Interestingly, this sale comes a short time after the first 2021 Bronco was sold for over 1 million dollars. Will this mean that classic Broncos will continue to rise in value? That's a definite "yes".