Ford pitchman is missing — but he's also fictional

When the Ford Bronco disappeared in 1996, so did the legendary pitchman it was named after, John Bronco.

The Bronco is headed back to dealerships soon, but John Bronco is still missing.

That’s the — completely fictional, of course — story behind an upcoming mockumentary starring Walton Goggins as a rodeo-riding, road-racing sex symbol.

John Bronco was scheduled to debut this spring at the Tribeca Film Festival, which was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. A trailer for the short film was posted online last week, though a release date wasn’t announced.

Ford Motor Co. allowed the filmmakers access to its archives, helped them obtain vehicles and allowed parts of the production to be shot at its headquarters, according to the Detroit Free Press.

In addition to Goggins, whose TV credits include “The Shield” and “Justified,” the film features Detroit native Tim Meadows as Bronco’s manager, Tim Baltz as a Ford archivist and former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar playing himself.

The film’s website explains that Bronco won the 1966 Baja 500 with Ford’s new SUV prototype, leading the automaker to name it after him and make him the face of its advertising campaign. (In reality, the Baja 500 didn’t start until 1969, and the Bronco — named after wild horses, not a Burt Reynolds knockoff — went on sale in 1965.) But as the story goes, John Bronco skyrocketed to stardom, launching his own cologne, breakfast cereal, video game and other products before he and his off-roading namesake both vanished at roughly the same time.

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