Oh, Why Didn’t Ford Build This Bronco Concept?

I got bored the other night. And I found myself clicking through the Ford Motor Company’s media website. I was deep into images of old Ford Broncos and Bronco concepts. That’s when I discovered the most beautifully weird thing I’ve ever seen — the 1981 Bronco Montana Lobo concept.

My god, just look at that thing.

It debuted at the ‘81 Chicago Auto Show. But the truck that underpinned the Lobo was a ‘77 Bronco. Clearly, little of the underlying truck was kept.

Photo: Ford

Photo: Ford

Up front, the Lobo features integrated bumper, bull bars, grille that cover even the headlights and integrated winch. Underneath the hood lurks a 5.0-liter V8 that, according to Top Speed, churns out a paltry 135 horsepower and 243 foot-pounds of torque.

The doors and side windows were each one piece of plexiglas. Open them up and you’d find ventilated seats and a digital dash — a vision of the future. Above both occupants were T-tops to let extra light in. Behind the plexi-doors are locking storage compartments on either side — kind of like the Rivian trucks.

You’d have to be careful stepping out of the Lobo because it featured side exhaust like the Cobra. Unlike the Cobra, though, it included side steps beneath the exhaust. I’m having visions of the second-generation Vipers whose exhaust would set fire to the plastic body cladding.


The rear B pillars were louvred in a wonderfully ‘80s style. Behind them were two longitudinal bench seats which were either upholstered in cloth or carpet. I can’t quite tell which. It looks like passengers access them through a little hatch in the back of the rig or through some glass doors to the cabin.

Perhaps my favorite part of the design are the brake lights, which appear to have been an afterthought, as they resemble the brake lights for a trailer that you can buy at an auto parts store. Just behind those are two more storage bins. These are strapped to the rig, which is a nice touch.

Photo: Ford

Photo: Ford

Designers finished the whole rig off with some BFG All-Terrain T/A tires wrapped around white steelies — a beautiful choice.

It’s wild to see what a team of Ford designers were imagining the outdoorsy ‘80s trucks might look like. It’s a shame their vision never made it to showrooms. Or, more importantly, it’s a shame I can build one of these things into an overlanding rig today.

Header image credit: Ford Motor Company

Written by Nick Jaynes. You can follow Nick @nickjaynes

Photo by Brett Willhelm


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