Sometimes cars are famous not for anything to do with the design of the car itself, but instead for some specific event that they were involved in. Such is the case of the Ford Bronco, a fairly standard SUV series that would not stand out all that much from the pack of SUVs if it weren't for one car chase in 1994. It is estimated that as many as 95 million Americans watched the low speed police chase live, as O.J. Simpson temporarily evaded capture after being accused of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
However, contrary to popular perception, while Simpson did own an identical Ford Bronco, the one featured in the chase actually belonged to his friend and former teammate Al Cowlings, who was the driver in the chase, as Simpson sat in the back.
The Ford Bronco was originally introduced in 1966, and it was the brainchild of Donald Frey, who was also responsible for the legendary Mustang, and approved by Lee Iaccoca as an off-road focused vehicle to compete against Jeep and the Toyota Land Cruiser. This was back when the primary purpose of SUVs was still to be an off-road sport utility vehicle, but as the market tastes for SUVs shifted more towards passenger transport on roads, the Bronco adapted it subsequent generations.
After five generations, the Bronco was discontinued in 1996, but it was revived in 2021 as a model evocative of the original to be Ford's competition against the Jeep Wrangler. But the white Bronco used in the O.J. Simpson chase was a 1993 model, so it belongs to the fifth generation that ran from 1992 to 1996.
The Ford Bronco was at the center of one of the most iconic televised moments of the '90s. But here is what you don't know about O.J. Simpson's getaway car.
The Bronco In The O.J. Simpson’s Chase: The Specifications
The 1993 Ford Bronco is equipped with a 5.0 liter V8 engine that produces 185 horsepower at 3,800 revolutions per minute and 270 lb-ft of torque at 2,400 revolutions per minute. Fuel economy is quite abysmal by today's standards for SUVs, coming out at 12 miles per gallon in the city and 16 miles per gallon on the highway. Still, a 32 gallon fuel tank gives it a pretty good maximum range of 384 miles in the city and as much as 512 miles between fuel stops on the highway.
A 4-speed automatic transmission is available, as well as a 5-speed manual. The only available drivetrain is four-wheel drive, which is great because even though SUVs have become less off-road focused over the years, anything less than four-wheel drive on an SUV would really just make it a station wagon with delusions of grandeur.
The Bronco In The O.J. Simpson’s Chase: Improved Safety
Many safety improvements were made to the Ford Bronco starting with the fifth generation, and that was sorely needed because prior to the 90s most vehicles did not have very good safety ratings by today's standards. Starting in 1993 the Bronco had anti-lock brakes on all four wheels instead of just the rear wheels as it had been on previous models.
In addition, a forward crumple zone was added as part of the frame's redesign. The two-point seatbelts on previous Bronco models were replaced with three-point seatbelts to meet new safety regulations. Because of this, it was no longer possible to remove the hardtop roof as it had been on previous models, or at least it was no longer legal to do so.
The Bronco In The O.J. Simpson’s Chase: Updated Interior
The interior on the 1993 Ford Bronco was updated compared to previous iterations. Front seats were available both as the bucket seats that have become standard on cars today or as bench seats, which seems odd now but used to be more common. Rear seats are bench-only, but leather trim was available.
The rear bench seat is of course where O.J. sat while holding a gun to his head and threatening to commit suicide during the famous chase. Cargo capacity was spacious on the Bronco, with 50.2 cubic feet of cargo space available, which increased to 79 cubic feet if you removed the rear bench seat.
The Cost Of A 1993 Ford Bronco Today
Back in 1993 when it was new, the base model Ford Bronco with no options had an MSRP of $20,250, or $39,760 in today's money. But if you are looking to buy a used Bronco today, that price has absolutely cratered. A typical listing price is $9,701, but anything between $7,054 and $10,347 is considered reasonable.
Price for a used car will of course vary depending on a huge range of factors, such as the trim level, mileage, and overall condition of the car. A dirt-cheap offer may look tempting, but always remember that you get what you pay for, and you will probably end up paying the difference in repair costs anyway.