Vehicles | March 24, 2021 6:30 am

“Big Oly,” the Second Most Famous Ford Bronco, Is Headed to Auction

Parnelli Jones's off-road racer won actual, sanctioned races

The 1969 Ford Bronco "Big Oly" from Parnelli Jones
Feast your eyes on Big Oly, the second most famous Ford Bronco ever.
Mecum Auctions

I don’t mean to be pedantic about this, but contrary to what a lot of automotive outlets are saying this week, from Hagerty to Motor Trend, Parnelli Jones’s off-road racing “Big Oly” Bronco is not “the world’s most famous Ford Bronco.” That would be, of course, the white Bronco from O.J. Simpson’s low-speed police chase, which was seen live on TV by millions of people back in ‘94. Ford couldn’t escape references to the pursuit when they unveiled the updated model last year, not that they tried hard.

That said, we would never, ever recommend buying Simpson’s 1993 SUV, especially for the million-dollar price tag the current owner wants for it. However, the 1969 Big Oly, which is headed to auction at Dana Mecum’s 34th Original Spring Classic this May in Indiana, is well worth the price it will fetch, and Hagerty believes it will be above $1 million.

“Any first-generation Ford Bronco is a hot commodity these days, regularly selling in the six-figure range at auction, but when Jones rolls Big Oly onto the Mecum auction block this May, I have no doubt it will become the first Bronco — and yes, the first vintage SUV — to bring seven figures,” Colin Comer wrote for the site.

What makes Big Oly so special? (If you have to ask, you’re really proving my initial point.) It’s an off-road racing legend custom-built by professional racer Parnelli Jones and builder Bill Stroppe, and which gets its name from their sponsor Olympia Beer. Jones drove the vehicle to back-to-back wins in the Baja 1000 in 1971 and 1972, as well as wins in the Baja 500 and Mint 400. When we say “custom-built,” that means that this is not a stock Bronco that’s been beefed up (as was the case with earlier builds Jones raced), but a completely new build from the ground up that’s made to look like a Bronco of the time. 

“It features a full 4130 chrome-moly tube-frame chassis, aluminum inner panels, fiberglass body, a setback 351W engine, four-wheel disc brakes, a Trans-Am-spec full-floating rear axle, a Lotus Indy-car-inspired windshield ‘air curtain’ to keep dust out of the cab, built-in Thermos drinking systems for driver and co-driver, and a heavily modified Twin I-Beam front suspension, among other innovations,” wrote Hagerty. “But Big Oly’s true party trick is its roof, which is, in actuality, a cockpit-adjustable wing to keep the truck planted to the dirt at high speed.”

Parnelli Jones jumping his Big Oly Ford Bronco in the dirt
Don’t try this at home, especially if you pay seven figures for it.
Mecum Auctions

But what makes this particular Ford Bronco potentially worth an unprecedented seven-figure price has to do in large part with the conditions of the sale. It’s still owned by Jones, who is 87 years old and has kept the truck in impeccable shape, and he will be there to hand off the keys in Indianapolis. 

If a million-dollar vintage Bronco isn’t your cup of tea, the lot is actually just one piece of Jones’s personal collection which will be up for auction, including two Saleen Mustangs.

As it turns out, Saleen has its own modern Ford Bronco that you can buy with a Big Oly livery.

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