The global debut of the new Ford Bronco, one of the most highly anticipated products from the automaker in years, will occur July 9. But it might be carrying some unwanted baggage.
The resurrected SUV is scheduled to be unveiled on O.J. Simpson's 73rd birthday. The former football star was infamously involved in a nationally televised slow-speed police chase with a 1993 Ford Bronco following the death of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman in 1994.
Simpson, who was charged but acquitted of the murders, was a passenger in the white SUV as friend and former teammate Al Cowlings drove the vehicle on the I-405 highway with police in pursuit. Millions of people tuned in to watch the chase on June 17, 1994.
Jiyan Cadiz, a spokesman for Ford Motor, said Tuesday the "date is purely coincidental." Ford was expected to unveil the vehicle earlier this spring but canceled the event due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This isn't the first time the chase has been attached to the new Bronco. On social media, Ford in February asked users for their favorite memories of the Bronco. While many of the posts were people sharing their stories, some also shared images of the police chase and Simpson in the Bronco.
The debut of the Bronco has been anticipated for years. Ford initially confirmed its return in January 2017.
Ford executives have promised the Bronco will live up to its reputation as a classic off-road SUV, which returns for the first time since 1996. The 2021 Bronco is expected to be squarely positioned against Fiat Chrysler's Jeep brand.
"The Bronco lineup has big upside potential in the growing off-road category," Ford Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley told investors last week during a Deutsche Bank conference. "Jeep dominates and accounts for a significant portion of (Fiat Chrysler's) revenue and global profit. This is our opportunity."
Ford is expected to offer a "Bronco family" of vehicles, including reports of a smaller SUV.