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Health & Science

The Ford Bronco Nears A Return

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Bronco - back in the Old West, a bronco was an unbroken or imperfectly broken range horse.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In modern Denver, it's the name of a football team trying to regain past glory.

CHANG: And in Dearborn, Mich., it's a Ford automobile that's, well, trying to regain past glory.

SHAPIRO: The Bronco was born in 1966. Ford introduced it as its original SUV, a rugged two-door vehicle.

TED RYAN: The origins of the Bronco name came out of the Mustang, actually. The Mustang is the older brother of the Bronco.

CHANG: Ted Ryan is Ford's archives and heritage brand manager. Ford now says that after more than a 20-year absence, the Bronco is coming back later this year.

RYAN: This is a revival. The Bronco went away in 1996. America's taste had changed in cars. The desire for a two-door rugged utility vehicle was declining.

SHAPIRO: The Ford Bronco gained fans over the years, even though only about a million of the vehicles were ever made.

RYAN: But its footprint is so much larger than that. They fondly remember the Bronco, and the calls for Ford to bring it back have been pretty constant over the years.

TOM CARPER: I'm a Bronco lover, for sure.

SHAPIRO: That's Tom Carper of Temperance, Mich.

CARPER: They call me the Bronco Ranch.

CHANG: Well, more accurately, you would call him the Bronco Rancher. He has 14 Broncos of various vintages at his home. His admiration for this car goes back decades.

CARPER: It was the first vehicle I wheeled.

CHANG: It was a 1967 Bronco. He loved the way the utility vehicle looked and appreciated its off-road capabilities.

CARPER: From there out, I have bought a lot of Broncos.

SHAPIRO: Most of them used, some of them working, many only good for parts.

CARPER: I've had over 400 Broncos. You know, it took 10 Broncos to build one good Bronco.

SHAPIRO: When his obsession began, his parents thought he was nuts. But over the years, others have come to admire the Bronco, and now he's not alone.

CHANG: The Bronco is expected to make its long-awaited return in the next few weeks. Yet Bronco Rancher Tom Carper says that doesn't mean he's going to buy a new one right away.

CARPER: I want to see them. I want to go to the dealer and get in one and take it for a test ride. And I got to be sold on one before I commit to buying one.

SHAPIRO: By the way, yesterday, someone jumped the gun on Ford's plan and used Instagram to leak what they say are pictures of the new Bronco.

(SOUNDBITE OF MASHROU' LEILA SONG, "3 MINUTES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.