The Story of the Large, 4-Door Bronco That Presaged the Expedition

For years, the Ford Bronco was basically the identical automobile: a stubby SUV with a detachable roof. The early Broncos have been smaller, and the remaining (these with out “II” in their names) adopted shortened full-size truck underpinnings, however the formulation was in any other case mainly recognizable. However even Ford was contemplating what a bigger Bronco may appear like earlier than a gas disaster scared them straight, although it took an aftermarket conversion by Centurion Autos to deliver the four-door Bronco into actuality.

Not that Centurion referred to as it a Bronco. As a substitute, it was the “Centurion Traditional,” constructed off a crew-cab model of the F-150 or F-350. The rear quarters and roof have been sourced from a recent Bronco. The Michigan-based outfit constructed these conversions for years, but it surely was the top of Bronco manufacturing to make manner for the conceptually related full-size Ford Expedition SUV that put the nail in its coffin.

These three-row, removable-roof SUVs have been definitely distinctive, and as a customizer Centurion might make the inside as plush as a purchaser needed. The goal was clearly the Chevrolet Suburban, and the Bronco roof was only a bonus. Ford had deserted the full-size, four-door SUV market to GM for years. However the Expedition, based mostly on the F-150, was the best automobile for the best time.



Why was Ford so gun-shy, ceding its spot within the massive SUV area to an aftermarket outfit like Centurion Autos? A number of sources blame the oil crisis of 1973—a distressing time to have massive fuel-guzzling automobiles in your lineup, and an excellent worse time to introduce a a lot bigger truck-based job. That’s precisely what Ford was contemplating doing after they began exploring a substitute for the first-generation Bronco in 1972. The “Shorthorn” concept would evolve into the eventual 1978 Bronco—on a shortened F-Collection platform with the fastened roof over the entrance passengers, and a detachable roof behind.

Nonetheless, it was the “Midhorn” idea that may have been a direct Suburban competitor. Ford obtained so far as producing some designs. This grainy picture of a clay mannequin exhibits a four-door configuration on one aspect (above), and a two-door on the opposite (beneath). In one other universe, with out an oil disaster, there’s no good cause why Ford shouldn’t have constructed it to tackle the massive GM SUVs.

All of which explains why the first-generation Bronco stayed in manufacturing longer than anticipated, and the second-generation Bronco—basically the Shorthorn idea come to life, with a later entrance finish remedy—had a brief run. Ford by no means made it again to contemplating a four-door Bronco, and that opened up room for Centurion’s fascinating run of Traditional conversions.

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