Ford's design team explored a few different directions before they ended up with the 2021 Bronco.
With over a hundred thousand confirmed preorders and constant, round-the-clock media coverage, it would be dishonest to call the new 2021 Ford Bronco anything but a rousing success. If the Jeep Wrangler has proven anything, it's that America has a large appetite for rugged, capable off-road vehicles, but of course, it doesn't hurt that the Bronco is a sharp-looking vehicle with a handsome, square jaw and retromodern sensibilities inspired by the 1966 original.
That styling, as perfectly suitable as it seems, almost took a very different tack, as Ford struggled early on to nail down exactly what direction the Bronco's sculpture should follow.
Speaking to Muscle Cars & Trucks recently, Paul Wraith, the head of design on the 2021 Ford Bronco program, said that the automaker had originally planned to pick up where the 2004 Ford Bronco concept left off. The concept SUV had a very obvious, almost 2002-Ford-Thunderbird level of dated-looking retromodernism, and it was an obvious place to start from. Ford even parked the concept right in the studio for about half-a-year, Wraith said, but as the automaker "began to analyze what we think the Bronco needed to be... we started to recognize that [the concept] was not it."
So, Ford headed in the opposite direction - to an alarming extent - reportedly penning something entirely more round and contemporary than the final design. "They were not anything like the Bronco at all," Wraith told MC&T. "They were really wild."
That all went out the window - thankfully, we might add - as Ford considered the Bronco's mission, and what the vehicle needed to accomplish in terms of capabilities. "This sort of gravitational pull towards a vehicle that's got very short overhangs, a very flat hood that peaks at the front corners, upright pillars… the vehicle started to become very square," Wraith said. "It was rational criteria starting to take away from any prospect of the Bronco being a bubbling blob."
The end result, as Ford redesigned the Bronco from the ground up around its target audience and intended use case, is what we saw last month: a boxy, truck-like utility that marries classic sculpture with more contemporary-looking fixtures. The road might have taken some unexpected turns along the way, but we're happy where Ford eventually ended up.