The Ford Bronco is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Five generations of the iconic truck, plus the Bronco II sideshow act, were produced between 1966 and 1996, but one outrageous concept for the SUV has been all but lost to history.
In 1981, Ford rolled out the Bronco Montana Lobo at the Chicago Auto Show, its name as wild as the vehicle it was applied to. The sci-fi-styled machine was a perfect example of the era's realistic futurism, and would’ve looked equally at home in Venusville or Hill Valley, circa 2015.
With some irony, it was based on the 4x4 chassis of a 1977 Bronco, and powered by a 5.0-liter V8, but what they put on top of it was anything but old-school. Its edgy, mustard-gold bodywork sported a wedge-profile hood, raked-back windshield, roll bar, louvered side rails, a rooftop airfoil over off-road lights, and foam bumpers with an integrated winch.
Its most eye-popping features, however, were the removable, tinted Plexiglas bubble doors and T-top roof. Hemp fabric upholstery covered an open bed fitted with fold out bench seats along each side that could be accessed from the two-seat cabin via a patio-style sliding glass door.
As forward-thinking as it was bizarre, The Montana Lobo also had a retractable loading ramp built into the tailgate and body-side storage compartments that wouldn’t seem out of place on truck concepts today, while its ventilated seats and digital instruments are now SUV staples.
Sadly, the awesome exposed side-pipe exhausts on top of its running boards never made it onto any of Ford’s production trucks that followed, but, hey, the future’s not here…yet.
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Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com's Automotive Editor.