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Ford Debuting New Bronco on OJ Simpson’s Birthday

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Ford Bronco July 9 2020 debut
Ford will debut its 2021 Bronco on July 9, which just so happens to be O.J. Simpson’s birthday
Photo: Ford

Despite likely wanting to distance the new SUV from its least desirable association, Ford will debut the 2021 Bronco on, of all days, O.J. Simpson’s 73rd birthday.

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Ford announced on Instagram this past weekend that the Bronco will make its world premiere on July 9. The Bronco was originally scheduled to debut in March but was postponed as result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The post includes the phrase “The Wild Returns” and the hashtag #BuiltWild, suggesting that Ford will market the SUV based on the fact that it’s wild.   

Ford Bronco can’t quite seem to escape shadow of Simpson chase

1993 Ford Bronco XLT white O.J. Simpson birthday debut | 2021 Ford Bronco to debut on OJ Simpson birthday
A white 1993 Ford Bronco not dissimilar like the one seen in the 1994 police chase
Photo: RL GNZLZ from Chile via CC

Also wild is the fact that Ford missed the fact that July 9 also happens to fall on the birthday of one Orenthal James Simpson. In 1994, Simpson famously fled from police in a white 1993 Bronco after he was charged with the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The low-speed chase was watched by 95 million people and kicked off a year-plus-long media circus, making the white Bronco a late-night punchline for years to come.

Ford built its last Bronco on June 12, 1996, and it was long thought that it wouldn’t make a comeback because of its association with the Simpson murders. In 2014, former Ford communications manager for SUVs Mark Schirmer told USA Today that the decision to end production of the Bronco was intended to make more space for the Explorer and Expedition.

“We had decided to move away from the two-door, two-row, large SUV,” Schirmer said. “It was already fading in customer popularity, long before O.J. made it a celebrity.”

While Simpson was acquitted at the end of an 11-month murder trial, he was found liable in a wrongful death case in 1997. A decade after that, he was arrested for armed robbery and kidnapping and spent nine years in prison.

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Ford: Simpson connection ‘purely coincidental’

New Ford Bronco Logo | 2021 Ford Bronco to debut on OJ Simpson birthday
Mike Levine confirms that O.J. Simpson won’t be involved in the 2021 Ford Bronco debut (in case you were wondering)
Photo: Ford

Though Ford wouldn’t lay the cancellation of the Bronco and its 14-year absence on its connection to O.J. Simpson, it’s also not one that the company is eager to rekindle.

“It’s likely Ford didn’t realize the timing of the Bronco’s debut, as that aspect of the Bronco’s history is not one I imagine Ford celebrating,” Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book, told The Detroit Free Press. “Unfortunately, unless Ford changes the date, it will be the lede, or at least a reference point, in every Bronco debut story.”

Mike Levine, Ford’s product communications manager for North America, told Freep that the debut will not move from its July 9 date, noting that the reveal occurring on Simpson’s birthday is “purely coincidental.” Which is good, because if he hadn’t noted that it was a coincidence, people might think that Ford was actually going to bring Simpson out and have him introduce the SUV, right?

T-minus 21 days to the 2021 Bronco’s debut

Ford Bronco sheet
The wrap finally comes off this horsey on July 9
Photo: Ford

Fortunately, the buzz around the Bronco is substantial and has been for the full 3.5 years since its return was announced. While there will no doubt be quips and jokes about the Bronco and O.J. Simpson (side note: It’s really great that Jay Leno doesn’t have a late-night show anymore), the focus should largely remain on what it can do.

Speculation is that the Bronco will have several variants, including two- and four-door body styles, as well as removable doors and a removable roof. It’s also expected that the Bronco will get at least two different engine options and a seven-speed manual option.

We don’t have much longer to speculate in any case. In three more weeks, the Bronco makes its debut and begins forging a path toward its goal of becoming the most popular off-road SUV on the market.