The still-unofficial SUV imagined as a cut-down F-150 Raptor.

Even 20 years after the last one rolled out of the factory, the Ford Bronco still has a huge following.

Launched in 1966, it was something of a trailblazer. Competent on-road and highly capable off-road, if was one of the first “lifestyle” SUVs, appealing as much to surfers as it did to families and workmen.

Ever since production of the Bronco ended in 1996, rumors have periodically surfaced that a revival was in the works. Ford itself stoked the flames with the retro-styled Bronco concept of 2004. But nothing ever came of it.

However, with SUV sales booming across the world, the time may be right for the Bronco to finally be reintroduced. Indeed Bill Johnson, chair of the United Auto Workers chapter that covers Ford’s Wayne, Michigan plant, confirmed as much.

Responding to then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s criticism of Ford’s decision to move Focus production from Wayne to Mexico, Johnson said: “We hate to see the products go to Mexico, but with the Ranger and the Bronco coming to Michigan Assembly that absolutely secures the future for our people a lot more than the Focus does.”

Ford has not affirmed Johnson’s assertion, but neither has it been refuted.

But let’s assume that he is right. What would a new Bronco actually look like? This rendering offers a few ideas.

After 1978, the Bronco was based on a cut-down F-Series pickup truck chassis and so is ours. Specifically, it is based on the bonkers 2017 F-150 Raptor, a vehicle as close to Baja Trophy Truck as is legally allowed.

The front end of our Bronco features a bespoke grille and the rear section of the cab has been cut out. So the leading edge of what was the load bed becomes the B-pillar, and the bed is filled with rear seats and trunk. The roofline of the cab is simply extended out to the rear, which features a split tailgate.

As the smaller Ranger pickup is apparently being introduced at the same time, it is possible the Bronco could be more like the Ranger-based Bronco II, in production from 1983 to 1990.

We'll know when the Bronco goes on sale, possibly in 2018.

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