Unfortunately, sequels are often not as good as the original. Plenty of people have fond memories of Caddyshack, but how many people are still quoting Caddyshack II? Similarly, many people fondly remember the Ford Bronco, but how many are as excited when they spot a Bronco II driving down the street? While the answer is likely not many, let’s look into the real differences between both Broncos and see if the Bronco II’s reputation is warranted.
Background of the Bronco
The Ford Bronco was an important vehicle for the American 4X4 scene. It was essentially a durable and stylish box that did little else other than drive wherever you pointed it. All in all, first-gen Broncos are well suited for the trails and were comparatively well-mannered on the pavement when measured against other 4X4s of the time. The original Bronco was trailing behind its competitors in terms of providing a comfortable driving experience, so the Bronco was redesigned. The design of the later generation Ford Broncos became boxier and more closely resembled its truck brethren.
Once the Bronco entered its second generation, Ford began to understand what consumers were looking for in an SUV. The second-gen Broncos were larger than their predecessors, and they were the last Bronco with a solid front axle.
The Bronco generations that are most pertinent to the Bronco II are its contemporaries: The third and fourth generation Broncos. While the Bronco II visibly takes a lot of inspiration from classic Broncos, it is more closely related to later Bronco generations.
The Bronco's Sequel: The Bronco 2
The Bronco 2 (as it is sometimes written)only had a single generation from 1984-1990. On the whole, it is a smaller version of the Bronco, based off of the Ranger’s platform rather than the F-150 or F-100. Overall, its shorter wheelbase and other dimensions make it resemble first-generation Broncos more than their contemporaries.
The idea of the Bronco 2 was to make a vehicle with a wider appeal than the full-size Bronco. Its smaller size placed it in competition with the then newly-established Jeep Wrangler, and given the power of the Bronco’s brand, it seemed like it would be a runaway success. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
If you have heard anything about the Bronco II, it was probably about their poor safety and their high roll-over risk. This is the unfortunate legacy of the Bronco II. The design of the Bronco II is inherently tippy, and for that reason, it isn’t the safest vehicle to drive as a daily driver. Older vehicles (even ones from the ‘80s) aren’t necessarily known for their safety. While it should certainly be a factor in your vehicle purchasing decisions, modern cars and SUVs have the undeniable safety edge.
The Bronco II is still somewhat of a hot-commodity for 4x4 enthusiasts and Ford fans. Safety is certainly a concern for the general public, but it isn’t nearly as important for gearheads and 4X4 enthusiasts. People still remember the Dodge Viper fondly, and that angry mound of traction-control-free horsepower was basically a large death certificate with a V10 strapped to it.
While the Bronco 2 does have a negative reputation to contend with, it’s not anywhere close to being as infamous as the Edsel or the Pinto. Despite all of its problems, it is still a Bronco, and people like Broncos.
Bronco and Bronco II Differences
One of the biggest differences between the Bronco II and its third-gen Bronco contemporary is their overall dimensions. The silhouettes of
both vehicles are similar, but the Bronco II is a more compact vehicle. It’s around a foot and a
half shorter, and nine fewer inches wide.
When compared to the first-generation Bronco, the Bronco II is similar in terms of dimensions. The biggest
difference being that the Bronco II is half a foot longer than the classic Bronco. One of the more important similarities between these two is their wheelbases. The classic Bronco’s 92-inch wheelbase is only slightly shorter
than the Bronco II’s wheelbase, which is 94 inches.
This short wheelbase is partly to blame for the Bronco 2’s instability, but it also makes it a good base for
an off-roading rig.
Which Bronco Handles The Trails Better?
The classic Bronco was a true off-road champion, but as the years went on, it began to put on some weight. The later generation Broncos were more focused on being comfortable SUVs. Off-road capability was never completely sacrificed, but the larger a vehicle gets, the less nimble it becomes. The Bronco II, being the considerably smaller vehicle, can really prove its worth on the trails.
The Bronco 2 bests both third and first-generation Broncos in terms of ground clearance and angle of departure, and its breakover angle is comparable to first gen’s. Its approach angle is behind all other models of Broncos, but that can easily be improved with a lift and some bigger tires.
That all being said, Broncos from all generations can be made into incredible off-roading rigs with varying amounts of work. Classic Broncos, for one, are the vintage off-roader du jour, and there are plenty of aftermarket ways to convert them into Moab-ready monsters.
Because classic Broncos are so desired, they can be expensive. On the other hand, the Bronco II’s bad reputation means you can track down a decent specimen for considerably less cash than a first-gen Bronco would run you.
General Dimensions and Stats
Here are the varying figures of the first and third-generation Broncos, and the Bronco II. Keep in mind that the fourth generation (which lasted from 1987-1991) of Ford Bronco is dimensionally very similar to the third generation.
||First Generation Bronco
||Third Generation Bronco
Bronco II Engines
||115 hp @ 4,600 RPM
||150 lb-ft @ 2,600 RPM
||140 hp @ 4,800 RPM
||170 lb-ft @ 2,600 RPM
Third Gen Bronco Engines
||120 hp @ 3,600 RPM
||250 lb-ft @ 2,000 RPM
||150 hp @ 3,200 RPM
||270 lb-ft @ 2,000 RPM
||210 hp @ 4,000 RPM
||305 lb-ft @ 2,800 RPM
First Gen Bronco Engine Options
|170 CID I6
||105 hp @ 4,400 RPM
||158 lb-ft @ 2,400 RPM
|200 CID I6
||84 hp @ 3,800 RPM
||151 lb-ft @ 1,800 RPM
|289 CID V8
||200 hp @ 4,400 RPM
||282 lb-ft @ 2,400 RPM
|302 CID V8
||205 hp @ 4,600 RPM
||300 lb-ft @ 2,600 RPM
|302 CID V8 (post-1972)
||200 hp @ 4,400 RPM
||282 lb-ft @ 2,400 RPM
Sources: Bronco II Corral | Automobile Catalogue | Jalopnik
Image Credit: Classic Cars | Mecum | Gear Patrol | Hemmings