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1966 Ford Bronco - Celebrating 40 Years with Ted Nugent

Ford Bronco - Celebrating 40 Years with Ted Nugent - 1966 - Picture 06E3H470102139A
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About This 1966 Ford Bronco

Posted: 04 May 2006

Rocker Ted Nugent joins the party, celebrating 40 years of Ford’s first modern SUV

When Ford introduced the Bronco back in 1966, no one could have imagined it would have the tremendous effect on the off-roading scene that it did. With its chunky good looks, tough construction and outstanding off-road handling, it inspired owners to form clubs that encouraged the preservation and enjoyment of this highly capable sport utility.

Today, many clubs are dedicated to Bronco ownership, and they will celebrate the vehicle’s 40th anniversary this year. What is it about this sport utility that creates such devotion, despite the fact that the last one came off the assembly line 10 years ago? We talked to some of the most ardent Bronco owners, including rocker Ted Nugent, to learn more about the enthusiasm they share for Ford’s first sport utility.

Long-time Bronco owner and rock legend Ted Nugent will offer up one of his vintage Ford Broncos for display at several of the 40th Anniversary celebrations happening this year.

Owner: Ted Nugent

Broncos Owned: Seven

Bronco Owner Since: 1971

Ted Nugent is without question the most famous Bronco owner. Throughout his career, he has been a vocal supporter, even singing its praises on his three successful TV shows.

“On all of my shows, whether ‘Surviving Nugent,’ ‘Wanted: Ted or Alive’ or ‘Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild,’ I always make sure to make my entrance and exit in a Bronco,â€Â Nugent says.

Nugent’s passion for all things Bronco goes back nearly 35 years, when he bought his first one in 1971.

“It was light green with a white top, and I loaded her up with all of the off-road goodies to satisfy my no-road wanderlust,â€Â Nugent says. “I had all the heavy-duty options available at the time, even a Warn winch, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I was rockin’, baby!â€ÂÂ

Bitten by the bug, Nugent began buying and modifying a procession of increasingly gonzo Broncosâ€' all in the pursuit of the ultimate off-roading machine.

“I was having the time of my life, penetrating the heretofore inaccessible outback to soothe the savage exploratory beast within,â€Â Nugent says.

To Nugent, that is what the Bronco is all about â€' a way to get back to nature. As a tremendous advocate of the outdoors, a committed hunter and a preserver of natural resources, Nugent spends as much time communing with nature as he can, when he’s not rocking around the world.

“Even with my wild image, though, I have always supported the concept of treading lightly,â€Â Nugent says. “When I go off-road with my friends, we are no more disruptive on the trail than a herd of elk. The Bronco represents a powerful force in the huntsman’s life, a way for us to reconnect with the spirit of the wild.â€ÂÂ

The Ford Bronco was the first four-wheeled vehicle that Karl Bradley ever drove and it’s still the only vehicle he drives.

Owner: Karl Bradley

Broncos Owned: Nine

Bronco Owner Since: 1993

For Karl Bradley, owning a Bronco has always been a family affair. It started with an uncle who stored his 1976 red, white and blue Bicentennial Edition Bronco at his parents’ home in Boone, N.C.

“It was the first four-wheeled vehicle I ever drove, at age 11, sitting on my dad’s lap,â€Â Bradley recalls. “From that day on, I swore I’d own a Bronco.â€ÂÂ

Bradley had to wait until after he finished college to buy his first Bronco â€' a 1977 â€' in 1993, from its original owner.

“I did a frame-on restoration and learned a lot,â€Â Bradley says. “Later, I became a charter member of the Mid-Atlantic Early Broncos Club. It was a great resource for parts and information, and I met a lot of terrific people.â€ÂÂ

Two of those people ended up members of Bradley’s wedding party three years ago, demonstrating the close friendships that can develop in such situations. His wife, Karen, shouldn’t have been surprised by the role Broncos have played in Bradley’s life: Their third date consisted of taking his heavily modified 1968 Bronco on its maiden trip to the Upper Tellico off-road vehicle area in the Nantahala National Forest.

“We off-roaded on two of the toughest trails, and we passed with flying colors,â€Â Bradley says proudly.

Owner: Steve Sampson

Broncos Owned: One

Bronco Owner Since: 1986

It took a Jeep to show Steve Sampson that what he really wanted was a Bronco.

“I owned a Jeep and had rolled it off-roading, so I started shopping for a replacement and saw an ad for a 1970 Bronco,â€Â Sampson recalls. “I didn’t know anything about Broncos but decided to check it out.â€ÂÂ

Sampson learned the Bronco had a V-8 engine rather than the Jeep’s six-cylinder, a rugged body-on-frame as opposed to the Jeep’s unibody, and a coil-spring front suspension, which gave it a comfortable ride on road and improved its off-road ability.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is what I’ve wanted all along.’ â€ÂÂ

Sampson turned to Early Broncos Limited, one of the Internet mailing lists at the time, to learn more about his Bronco and make modifications. In 1990, the mailing list developed into the Early Bronco Registry, which was the only Bronco club in the country then. Over the years, the Early Bronco Registry has had more than 2,800 members. Today, it counts 800 members in all 50 states, Canada, the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico and Australia.

“The club makes it so easy to maintain and improve a Bronco,â€Â says Sampson. “It’s also a great social opportunity; I’ve met people from everywhere.â€ÂÂ

And with his Bronco completely outfitted for camping, Sampson has driven many places, too.

“I’ve traveled from Mexico to Canada and from the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains,â€Â Sampson says. “I’ve put more than 250,000 miles on my Bronco, and for me, it’s all about the places you can go and the things you can do.â€ÂÂ

Sampson is an organizer of the Early Bronco Registry’s celebration of the Bronco’s 40th anniversary celebration May 2 - 6, in Victorville, Calif., the largest such celebration this year.

“This year, the event is open to all Broncos, not just the early models of 1966 to 1977,â€Â says Sampson. “We’ve leased 25 acres of land at the Mojave Narrows Regional Park, and there will be a number of special events with historic Broncos displayed and famous personalities from the Bronco’s past,â€Â says Sampson. “The EBR’s festivities kick off the yearlong, coast-to-coast celebration that ties together all the major Bronco club events.â€ÂÂ

From Victorville, many Bronco owners will travel east to the next event, in Moab, Utah, carrying the 40th Coast-to-Coast flag and logbooks to document their travels.

Source: Ford

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