Weekend Junkyard Quiz (04/15): What Car Are We Looking At?

Last weekend, we pontificated a little about donks, based on a customized Chevy Monte Carlo we found that was a bit more than a bread-and-butter G-Body. This weekend, we’ve got another domestic junkyard find for you. We wonder if you guess it from just one cropped image. If you know it, how many bucks would you give for it?

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Does the wider view help? If you know what this bracket is, you probably will have few problems combining that and the three-color paint to solve this puzzle as a…

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…Ford Bronco II. Yes, some of Ford’s small SUV survived the multiple black eyes the model received over its production run to finish its life in a junkyard in 2017. That bracket, by the way, supports the big sideview mirrors that were plucked from this Bronco II.

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While Ford retained the original Bronco, which was built on the F-150 chassis, the Bronco II was smaller and launched concurrently with the Ranger, sharing its platform. The Bronco II similarly got downsized engine options; there were no V8s like the larger Bronco had on offer.

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Instead, the Bronco II was powered by Ford’s Cologne V6, first the 2.8-liter and later with an extra 100 cubic centimeters to the 2.9-liter like this later one had. There was also a rare optional Mitsubishi-sourced diesel four-cylinder. None of these were particularly good engines, although they were generally in-line with other domestic V6 and diesel options from the era. The Cologne would later be improved in 4.0-liter guise for the Ford Explorer.

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The interior of this Bronco II was in remarkably good shape for a 30-year-old car. I’ve always been a sucker for red interiors like this and the front seat still had ample cushioning. It didn’t even smell particularly bad, which is a true accomplishment for any junkyard vehicle.

 

When Ford launched the Bronco II in 1984, they were targeting young, active families as their demographic. The first pitches described the Bronco’s cavalier attitude as akin to John Wayne and rugged individualism, which probably both describe off-road enthusiasts on some level.

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As the SUV market grew in the 1980s, Ford expanded the Bronco II’s marketing to expand the demographic. Before slapping the soccer-mom friendly Eddie Bauer editions to the Explorer and Expedition, Ford introduced the Bronco II Eddie Bauer Edition.

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However, the Bronco II was unfortunately prone to rollovers. During the truck’s development phase, Ford had already identified the poor handling attributes from the short wheelbase that made it a real rollover hazard at highway speeds. The same problems plagued the short-wheelbase Suzuki Samurai, which also came under much scrutiny during and after its production run. 

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There will always be some contention over the Bronco II’s actual handling characteristics, but the courts generally sided with plaintiffs in the maelstrom of lawsuits filed against Ford, which included a $62.4 million decision. Ford maintained that rollovers resulted from poor driving or modifications. In retrospect, that defense was hampered by Ford’s legal department collecting documents regarding the Bronco II’s handling before the light SUV even went into production.

Ultimately, Ford ended Bronco II production in 1990, moving to the bigger (and less rollover-prone) Explorer that was also built on the Ranger platform, and you know how that went.

Regardless of its dubious safety record, off-roaders still modify and run the Bronco II on the trail and over the rocks. Like the contemporary and also-criticized Samurai, it remains a utilitarian and typically inexpensive platform for getting off the beaten path.

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Whether this Bronco II’s five-digit odometer means 68,000 or 268,000 miles, this is a particularly rare find in the Midwest junkyards. That makes it a bit of a shame to see in a junkyard, especially considering it looks to be solid. Check back next weekend for a new weekend Junkyard Quiz.