Trucks! Trucks. Those rough beasts of burden that once trundled across America’s farms (and Europe’s battlefields) with fittingly agricultural driving dynamics, spartan interiors and knobby tires. After the war, the Grand Wagoneer and the Range Rover brought luxury to the jeep class. Then Ford spiffed up an F-150 with leather and slapped Eddie Bauer badges on the trunk. Today, America is obsessed with ride height and all-wheel drive and something called the “crossover,” which dominates the landscape so thoroughly that when a batch of years-old Ford Bronco renderings popped up on the internet, it became a national conversation. Unrealistic! cried the NHTSA nerds. OJ! cried the marketing team behind HBO’s American Crime Story. Nostalgia! cried every man-child who had lusted over one of Ford’s trucklettes as a youth.
Lug-nut hubbub and high-riding hysteria have no place at this juncture. Yes, Ford will probably come out with a new Bronco soon, and yes, when spy photos and official renderings come out, we will scrutinize them within an inch of their pixelated lives. But right now, our attention is on the handsome cars and trucks on which those Photoshop confections were based. The delicate, often-pastel original Bronco, with its teacup-saucer wheels; the brutal second generation, with its menacing hooded lights; the last generation truck, as big and handsome as an oak tree. Do not worry about the future, rabid internet, when the past is this sweet.