The first-generation Ford Bronco lasted from 1966 until 1977. Right in the middle, the 1974 Bronco was the most popular year for Bronco sales, at 25,824 units. 1974 Bronco sales showed it was a true competitor for the Jeep CJ-5, which sold 32,486 units the same year.
For classic Bronco collectors, the 1974 Bronco is the most attainable year since so many were produced. It’s specifications also make it one of the most desirable. The features that contributed to the 1974 Bronco’s sales popularity make it highly sought after today.
1974 Ford Bronco Engine Specifications
In 1974, the Bronco had two engine options. The base engine was Ford’s popular 200 CID Inline-Six. The same engine can be found in everything from the Ford Maverick to the Fox Body Mustang.
The most exciting engine was the 302 CID V8. This engine had been an option on the Bronco since 1969. The 1971 specifications appeared different though, which has confused many.
1974 Ford 302 Engine Specs
The 1969 and 1974 Bronco 302 Engines are identical. No equipment was added that would have negatively impacted horsepower. In terms of feel, the two engines produce identical power.
So why are their horsepower values different?
Horsepower measurements changed between 1971 and 1972. Though reported horsepower values were lower, this wasn’t a result of detuning. Rather, it was an effect of increased standardization. Pre-1972 horsepower measurements were inflated. These inflated values were the result of measuring in optimal conditions and without some equipment.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) moved to a more accurate measurement method in 1972. This allowed them to measure horsepower in a way that made it easier to compare across brands. Horsepower measurements also became more true to real-world conditions.
Unfortunately, from a historical perspective, it does look like horsepower plummeted for all vehicles.
1974 Bronco Engines
| 200 CID Inline-Six||120 hp @ 4,400 RPM||190 lb-ft @ 2,400 RPM|
| 302 CID V8||125 hp @ 3,400 RPM||243 lb-ft @ 2,000 RPM|
1974 Bronco Transmission Specifications
One of the factors that contributed to the 1974 Bronco’s success was an automatic transmission option. The C4 automatic transmission was first offered on the Bronco in 1973. Though it was new to the Bronco, the C4 had been used in Ford vehicles since 1964.
Adding an automatic transmission option allowed the Bronco to compete with vehicles like the Chevy Blazer. By 1986, automatic transmissions would outsell manual transmissions for the Bronco.
The three-speed manual transmission was unchanged from prior years.
1974 Bronco Transmissions
| Transmission||First Gear||Second Gear||Third Gear,|
1974 Bronco Appearance and Dimensions
If things had gone according to plan, 1974 would have marked the beginning of the second generation of Bronco. It was set to be a full-sized SUV, with fewer miles per gallon than the existing Bronco. But the 1973 fuel crisis made Ford rethink those plans.
They decided not to risk it and waited until 1978 to launch the next generation.
Since Ford hadn’t planned any design changes to the existing Bronco, it was more or less a carryover from the previous years. Though the Ford Bronco had launched with three body styles, by 1974 it was down to one: The wagon.
To offer customization options, trim packages were made available to customers. The top of the line trim, The Ranger package, returned for the ‘74 year. As an additional option, 1973-1975 also had a special “Explorer package” that was a springtime promotion. The Explorer package was only available in Burnt Orange or Grabber Blue colors.
There were several new Bronco colors. 1974 saw the introduction of Ivy Glow, Light Grabber Blue, Burnt Orange, Pastel Lime, Village Green, Samoa Lime, Bold Orange, Gold Glow, and Sandpiper Yellow.
This created a cheerful palette that very much spoke to how Ford wanted people to see its Bronco. It was intended to be a fun vacation vehicle, at home in any destination.
1974 Bronco Dimensions
| Dimension||1974 Bronco|
| Wheelbase||92 inches|
| Length||151.5 inches|
| Width||68.5 inches|
| Height||71.6 inches|
1974 Bronco Off-Roading Specifications
The Bronco was designed as an off-roader to compete with the Jeep. As a result, a lot of people are dismayed when they see the original Bronco’s off-roading specifications. In off-roading angles, it doesn’t begin to compete with modern off-roaders.
The first-generation Bronco’s towing capacity is modest, at 2,000 pounds. Though this is on par with the baseline Wrangler’s towing capacity, it’s still not the Bronco’s strength.
In 1971, the Bronco upgraded from a Dana 30 front axle to a Dana 44. The Dana 44 has stronger axle shafts, which make it better for off-roading. This makes the ‘74 Bronco a little better equipped to go off-road than its predecessors.
1974 Bronco Off-Roading Angles
| Off-Roading Specification||1974 Bronco|
| Approach Angle||40.3 Degrees|
| Departure Angle||26.6 Degrees|
| Ground Clearance|| 11.3 Inches|
| Front Axle||Dana 44|
| Rear Axle||Ford 9”|
| Transfer Case||Dana 20|
1974 Bronco Value
At its time of sale, the Bronco went for a modest $2,194. Accounting for inflation, in 2020 that would be equivalent to roughly $11,511.
1974 Broncos are considered especially desirable as restoration projects. As a result, the value of a Bronco in 2020 is substantially more than its initial value. It’s not uncommon to see good condition Broncos auction off for well over $50,000.
If you have a 1974 Bronco and are looking to get top dollar, then restoring your Bronco with period correct parts will help. If you’re planning to keep your 1974 as a daily driver, then upgrades like disc brakes or a Coyote swap will help you enjoy your drive.
For Bronco enthusiasts, the 1974 Bronco is particularly desirable. This combination of options and features was unfortunately rare for first-generation Broncos. By 1977, the Bronco had only one engine option. The engine it kept was the more powerful 302 CID, but even so, people clearly preferred more options.
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Credit: Ford | Creative Commons