By Todd Zuercher:
In retrospect, it sometimes feels like I was destined to fall in love with Broncos. In my youth, nearly all of my extended family drove Ford products. My mom worked in a small, one-car showroom Ford dealership in rural Ohio, and my uncle owned a Ford dealership. My fondest early car memory is riding proudly between my grandpa and my dad in my grandpa’s 1971 F-250 4×4 pickup. I may not have understood exactly what four-wheel drive was, but I knew it was cool and capable.
When we moved to a small mountain town in central Arizona, I started seeing a lot of Broncos on the streets and began reading about them in my cousin’s four-wheel drive magazines. I fell in love with their classic lines and V8 power—and the fact they were a Ford product certainly didn’t hurt either. Many people love the looks of the first-generation Mustangs, and I have the same feeling about the first-generation Broncos as well—I think Ford hit a home run with their size and styling. The love affair became real when my dad purchased a well-worn 1969 Bronco when I was 12 years old.
That truck helped shape my life from that moment forward and created some of the greatest memories of my life. Family off-road trips in the rugged Arizona backcountry, learning to drive off road at a young age, taking my driver’s test in it, and driving it on my first date. These were all great memories from my youth.
I’ve long had a keen interest in history of all kinds, and with Broncos so central in my life, it’s no surprise I developed a strong love of the Bronco story and its place in the automotive landscape as well. In college, I wrote my first article on Bronco history for publication and found that I really enjoyed writing. In the intervening years, I’ve written dozens of articles for a variety of publications and mediums—from hand-stapled newsletters to web pages to my first book. Along the way, I’ve met and talked to many interesting people, including some of my childhood heroes, and made many memories through those interactions and conversations.
Following in the tire tracks of my off-road racing heroes, I’ve been blessed to be able to race a Bronco in the NORRA Mexican 1000 that’s held in Baja each year. Our team has raced together for almost a decade now, and the friendships we’ve formed and experiences we’ve had together in the wilds of Baja are something I wouldn’t trade for anything. The comradery, the working together towards a common goal, and the overcoming of seemingly insurmountable odds create incredibly strong bonds of friendship.
Over the past several decades, I’ve extended those family off-road trips of my youth into adventures in other states with other Bronco-owning friends. Covering thousands of miles together in beautiful and remote regions of the southwestern United States, we’ve spent many memorable moments behind the wheel and around the campfire—sharing life’s experiences, conquering challenging terrain, and making memories that will no doubt last a lifetime.
The Ford Bronco has been an incredible part of my life for nearly 40 years. The experiences and encounters I’ve had as a result of a love affair with the boxy bobtail from Detroit have enriched and blessed me beyond my wildest imagination. I’m so thankful that long-ago spark in my life has never dimmed.
Todd is an author, historian, and Baja racer. Todd is the author of the book, Ford Bronco: A History of Ford’s Legendary 4×4, which was released in 2019.