Classic Ford Bronco gets high-tech upgrade

VAN NUYS, LOS ANGELES

Long before the term "SUV" was coined, Ford created a simple yet sturdy off-road vehicle called the Bronco.

Initially aimed at farmers, ranchers and sportsmen, the original Bronco carried on for many years.

It was replaced in the late 1970s by a bigger version, which a former NFL star made famous on national television.

Shortly after that, Ford said goodbye to the Bronco, as its heyday was behind it.

Now, the Bronco is back, thanks to a local company called ICON.

"The key thing is identifying vehicles that are in the hearts and minds of our general populace," says Jonathan Ward, ICON Motors founder. "The number-one request that we've received over the years from clients is, 'How about a Bronco?'"

ICON starts with a vintage Bronco shell, and essentially builds a brand new vehicle. Under the hood is a modern Ford V-8 engine from the Mustang. The chassis is new and modern.

But that's just the beginning: Jonathan Ward loves little, high-quality details. They're everywhere in the exclusive 4-by-4.

"All the lighting is light-emitting diodes. The glass is architectural glass that you would find on skyscrapers. The interior, a lot of the design details came from aerospace, military and marine applications. Six-piston ABS brakes all the way around," says Ward. "One-off instrument panels that I designed, infused with elements from Bell & Ross, 'cause I'm kind of a watch geek."

In all the years Ford built Broncos, they never made one like this.

Starting price for an ICON Bronco is $155,000. ICON has already pre-sold eight of them without even doing any advertising.

So if nostalgia for the old Bronco is so strong, why wouldn't Ford just bring it back? Well actually, they've thought about it.

Ford did create a concept car based on the original Bronco design some years back. The idea hasn't gone anywhere -- so far.

So if you want something like Ford's original off-roader, don't look to Dearborn, Michigan -- instead, try Van Nuys, California.

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