O.J. Simpson Made the Ford Bronco the Most Hated Car in America and It Was All Live on TV

O.J. Simpson's Ford Bronco 9 photos
Photo: Inside Edition | YouTube
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More than 100 million people watched live as football star O.J. Simpson was fleeing from the police in Los Angeles in what became America's most hated car at the time: a white Ford Bronco. The former NFL celebrity died from cancer at 76.
In America, he will always be remembered as the one who fled the police in a Ford Bronco when he was a murder suspect in what the media called, at the time, "the trial of the century." Ironically, Simpson had been a spokesperson for Ford since 1975 until the day he made the biggest anti-advertising in the history of the brand.

When the police went to his home to talk to him about the murder, he did not answer the door. Officers, though, noticed a trail of blood leading to his car, but also blood on the car. Days later, he went from America's sweetheart to being a murder suspect.

He was charged with the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, 25. They had been found stabbed to death outside her home in Los Angeles. The trial that brought the 1974 Most Valuable Player of the National Football League to court was to grip America for 16 months.

June 17, 1994, at 5:56 PM. That was when the low-speed car chase started. Police had issued an arrest warrant for O.J. Simpson, who was sitting in the back of the infamous white Ford Bronco with the number plates 3DHY503. Simpson's former teammate and best friend, Al Cowlings, was driving the SUV.

O\.J\. Simpson's Ford Bronco
Photo: Inside Edition | YouTube
He was in connection with the police all the time, telling them he had O.J. Simpson in the car and asking them to back off. Meanwhile, his passenger was crouched on the floor of the car, away from the eyes of the curious, sitting behind Cowling's and the back seat. He was reportedly holding a gun and threatening to kill himself.

100 million people tuned in to watch the low-speed car chase 

That Bronco was live on TV for two whole hours, traveling along Interstate Highway 5, south of Los Angeles. Police cars were on its back, joined by dozens of helicopters from the police and television stations. Police asked the driver to pull over. He did not.

He kept driving, but he never exceeded 37 mph (60 kph), which prompted thousands of people to wait for the convoy on the side of the bridges and highway to cheer and display banners, showing their support for O.J. Simpson as the car drove by. America did not know the whole story. People were just cheering for the one who was an NFL superstar at the time.

The car chase was one of the most watched live events at the time. Over 100 million people kept their eyes on the white Ford Bronco and the police convoy for two hours. The Bronco stopped at the entrance of the football star's in Brentwood Heights, Los Angeles. Forty-five minutes later, after intense negotiations, his lawyers convinced him to turn himself in. The car was immediately confiscated but eventually returned to Cowlings.

O\.J\. Simpson's Ford Bronco
Photo: Inside Edition | YouTube
Simpson was eventually acquitted in the trial in October 1995. However, he was surprisingly ordered to pay $33 million to Goldman's family in the civil case. The damages were never paid in full. He eventually served nine years in prison for leading an armed robbery attempt of a sports memorabilia dealer in Las Vegas. He had been convicted to 33 years in prison but released on parole.

O.J. Simpson, a real car guy

The Bronco that he used in his attempt to flee the police was one of the many cars that O.J. Simpson had in his garage that day. He was known as a car guy. He owned a Ferrari Testarossa, a Bentley Mulsanne, and a Chevy Caprice, among many others. But the star of the case was the 1993 Ford Bronco XLT.

The model is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine that generates 185 horsepower and is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. Back in the early 1980s, the price was about $20,250. But Simpon's featured a high specification: it had a black leather interior and everything that Ford offered with the Bronco at the time.

After being live on TV for two hours, the car remained with O.J. Simpson's agent, Mike Gilbert. He kept it in his garage and never drove it. It first came out of its hiding place to show up in The Pawn Shop reality show. Gilbert wanted to sell it and asked for an eye-watering $1.3 million for it.

O\.J\. Simpson's Ford Bronco
Photo: Alcatraz East Crime Museum
Who would pay that much for a 1993 SUV that the whole country knew as the one that murder suspect O.J. Simpson used in his attempt to get away from the police? Gilbert admitted, during the same show that he had turned down a $500,000 offer, claiming it did not reflect the real value of the car.

Al Cowling, who never wanted to sit in that car again, had also tried to sell the Bronco right after the epic car chase. A company offered him $75,000, but the sale never went through.

The Ford Bronco is on display in the Alcatraz East Crime Museum

He never found a buyer for the Bronco, and the most watched car in the history of television has been residing in the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, since 2022, right next to Ted Bundy's Volkswagen Beetle and John Dillinger's red Essex Terraplane, cars involved in murder cases.

The original tires, the gas that was left in the fuel tank, and the original papers are still with O.J. Simpson's former agent. He is keeping them as memorabilia, hoping that they will be worth a fortune one day. Apparently, not quite yet.

Ford discontinued the Bronco after the trial due to the sales figures collapsing. Ford always denied that their decision had any connection with the murder case.

O.J. Simpson died of prostate cancer at the age of 76. He had been in hospice care, undergoing chemotherapy. He will forever be remembered as an NFL celebrity, but also as the one who made America hold her breath during the car chase from June 1994 and all throughout "the trial of the century," which turned into a public spectacle as millions of viewers could watch it live on TV.

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