A Look at Ford Bronco Colors Through the Years
When it comes to cars, color matters to nearly all of us. It pretty much always has. Sure, there are accounts of Henry Ford once saying that his customers “could have the Model T in any color they wanted, as long as it was black” – an unsubstantiated quote, by the way — but even during the infancy of the automobile, Ford recognized the importance of color choice for its products. Where the Bronco is concerned, this importance has led to quite a bit of variation over the years, as new offerings were added to the color chart nearly every model year and others were deleted.
This being the case, let’s take a look at some of the sometimes subtle twists and turns Ford has taken with Bronco color choices over the years, starting with the Bronco’s debut for the 1966 model year and finishing off with the 2021 Bronco.
And before we get started, let’s set the record straight regarding Ford’s position on color options in its early days. It should be noted that, contrary to folklore, the Model T was available in a variety of colors for much of its existence. The period when it was available only in black was between 1914-1925, and that was due to expedience and not Henry Ford’s obstinance.
During that period, a process used to bake enamel in order to get it to dry more quickly was found to work much better on the color black than any other color, and Ford was looking for any shortcut possible to keep its production rate near what was needed to keep up with the feverish demand for automobiles.
When its competitors came to the conclusion that color choice was becoming a bigger priority for car buyers and therefore expanded their offerings, Ford followed suit.
The Bronco has definitely gone through a color evolution over the years since it first debuted. Going back to the original color chart for the 1966 model year, most of the choices were pretty subdued, although a number of them sure look pretty good on classic Broncos even to this day. Rangoon Red was a more vibrant standout for its time — small wonder that it’s been a favorite with classic car buffs after getting its start in the early ’60s on Ford’s Sunliner, Falcon and Galaxie.
Just a year later, it was evident that Ford was attempting to broaden the color horizons for its iconic SUV. Ford added Poppy Red to its color chart — when you see this shade on a classic Bronco, it still looks downright electric. Seemingly to balance things out, Pebble Beige — a comparatively sedate color — was also added. And a year after that, Ford saw fit to keep two versions of the color white among its offerings when Pure White was added to the already popular Wimbledon White. You still see the latter shade on quite a few classic Mustangs to this day.
As the ’70s approached, Ford upped its color game even further. By 1969 not only were there 13 different color options available for the Bronco, but these offerings seemed to span nearly the entire color spectrum and now included more exotic selections like Royal Maroon, Empire Yellow, Chrome Yellow and the perennially popular Candy Apple Red.
By the late ’70s, Ford seemed to put enticing color choices for its Bronco on the backburner to an extent and instead hitched its proverbial wagon to attention grabbing graphics via the Freewheelin’ package it offered for about a five year stretch. Heavy use of pinstriping became the norm here, taking its place against an often contrasting background.
These aesthetics were very much in sync with the era and were also likely meant to pull focus from the Bronco’s less than stellar power output at the time. Despite its rugged second-generation appearance, the Bronco was carrying fewer than 160 horsepower, even with its 400 cubic inch engine option. Combined with the second generation’s substantial curb weight, this meant that you weren’t likely to be pushed back into your seat, even when you stomped on the accelerator.
It’s interesting to note that Raven Black was a near constant on the Bronco’s color chart for most of the Bronco’s existence. Except for the odd exception of 1972, the color was available from the model’s inception for the 1966 model year all the way until 1994, just two years before the Bronco was discontinued.
Fast forward to the present and we see some awesome colors on the chart for the new 2021 Bronco, with the total number of potentially available choices, 11, being right about what was offered in the late ’60s. A notable and interesting difference becomes apparent when you contrast the various available Bronco configurations with the color chart. Not all color choices are available on all trim levels and the price of those levels isn’t the determining factor.
Starting with the Base Bronco, which is gaining a lot of popularity due to Ford’s decision to make it available with the ultra-popular Sasquatch package, you’ll find seven colors to choose from — a relatively narrow set of options even when compared to the early days of the Bronco.
Step up to Big Bend trim level and you get a shot at Area 51 — a shade that’s actually a take on teal — as well as Cactus Gray and Race Red. Only Ford’s high-profile Cyber Orange Metallic Tri-Coat remains out of the mix. Take another step up the variant ladder to either the Black Diamond, WildTrak, Outer Banks or Badlands version of the Bronco and all choices are now on the table.
Here’s where things get a little curious. The top-tier variant of the Bronco, the First Edition, is actually available with fewer color options than its lesser-equipped stablemates. Even more surprising, the First Edition doesn’t come with any trim level-specific color choices of its own to help balance things out.
Now that we’re finally getting the chance to see the new Ford Bronco in action, we can get all the affirmation we need that it’s a great-looking ride that’s decked out in a nice variety of available shades. The decision to limit color options on the First Edition is a little odd, to be sure, but Ford has also made the equally curious choice of omitting the availability of the Sport G.O.A.T on this variant, so maybe it’s just betting on the fact that the First Edition’s sheer collection of features and amenities is more than enough for even the most particular Bronco buyer.