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Ford has taken several whacks at resurrecting the Bronco nameplate since the boxy model disappeared after the 1996 model year. The company toyed with its return in the late 1990s, only to follow up with a boxy concept in 2004. But nothing materialized for years, until last week when Ford reintroduced the model for 2021. Ford’s chief designer Moray Callum led the project, and his personal vehicle helped.

Callum owns a 1976 Bronco, one where he’d removed a few parts to make it look like an even older model, and he brought it into work for his team to use as a starting point. But things went much further. Designers placed dots on the Bronco’s exterior to help create a digital 3D scan of the iconic SUV using a photographic measuring system.

Gallery: 2021 Ford Bronco

Resurrecting the Bronco meant more than just slapping the name on the latest product. It had to be versatile and modern, packed with the latest features while paying proper homage to Bronco’s legacy. For Callum, that’s expressed in the Bronco’s face. The original Bronco featured a simple design with round headlights and simple turn indicators with a stamped grille that featured bold FORD lettering. The new Bronco retains the simple face with round headlights and integrated horizontal turn indicators, but BRONCO branding now takes up the real estate.

All signs point to Ford having a winner on its hands. The automaker doubled the number of limited First Edition models it had planned to produce, though Ford was quick to note those additional Broncos already had buyers. Aftermarket companies are ready to wrestle with Ford in the accessories department. While Ford will have over 200 factory-backed parts available at the Bronco’s launch next spring, we already see rooftop tents and V8-engine swaps advertised for the new SUV.

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