I have a confession to make. Despite the fact that it lasted almost two hours and was witnessed by 95 million people, I completely missed the legendary OJ Simpson “low speed chase,” the 20th anniversary of which is upon us. Yes, I missed it all — OJ in the backseat with a gun to his head while his pal Al Cowlings drove his (Cowlings’, not OJ’s but he had one, too) ’93 white Ford Bronco an average of 35 mph over 60 miles of freeways, followed by an armada of police cruisers while dozens of helicopters covered from above. I missed it when NBC interrupted game 5 of the NBA finals and when thousands cheered OJ from overpasses. I missed it when ABC News anchor Peter Jennings put an “eyewitness” on the phone who told him “I see OJ and he looks scared,” followed by “..and Baba Booey to y’all!” My excuse: I was more than 4,000 miles away on the island of Huahine, in French Polynesia. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time! I’m talking about me, not OJ because, as we know, he didn’t do it and was, himself, the victim of tiny gloves.
I still have a whole lot of catching up to do so I hold my own in cocktail conversations. To this end, we managed to find a Bronco that generally fits the description of the OJ non-getaway car insofar as it’s white. It’s an XLT monochrome model with a body-colored grill as opposed to the gleaming chrome front end of the creepy OJ truck.
These Broncos were bulky brutes, based, as they were, on a shortened version of Ford’s big ass F-series truck platform. They seemed kind of stubby in a fat guy way and offered just two doors so, presumably, OJ had to wiggle into the back of Cowlings’ when he played his starring role in that mobile theater-of-the-absurd. The spare tire mounted on the swinging arm behind the tailgate was the view scores of cops got when they gave halfhearted chase to OJ exactly 20 years ago. With not a whole lot of sport and very little utility on tap, Broncos made some kind of anti-style statement on behalf of celebrities and other arriviste types who were attracted to their macho demeanor. They were, typically, driven to high end restaurants where diminutive valets would relieve their owners of their ungainly steeds in the hope of a generous tip or crust of bread.
First generation (’66 -’77) Broncos were almost three feet shorter as they had been built to compete with International Harvester’s relatively diminutive Scout and Jeep’s eternal CJ. We really like this pristine green machine wearing Nevada plates. Coincidentally, Nevada is the state where OJ Simpson is currently serving time in that state’s Lovelock (we don’t make these names up, folks) Correctional Center after having been convicted of robbery at gunpoint and kidnapping charges stemming from ill-conceived efforts to retrieve sports memorabilia that he claimed had been taken from him.
Irrespective of OJ’s notoriety, white was the most popular Bronco color but we did find a well preserved maroon (which Ford called “Cabernet”) example wearing New York plates. Sad that the textured fiberglass top seems to have come down with a chalky rash.
Ford quietly stopped building Broncos just five days short of the two year anniversary of the chase by which time a jury had decided that OJ was innocent. Glad we got to clear all that up.
There was a time when OJ wasn’t a pariah, in fact he was a much sought after pitchman. Here’s a commercial he did for Hertz in which he suggests you rent a FORD truck! What a coincidence!
And the one you’ve been waiting for. Stay with it after the “Baba Booey” for Al Michaels’ “totally farcical” pronouncement.
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