doff dem doors

The Ford Bronco Might Beat the Jeep Wrangler in a Delightful Way

September 20, 2019 Cars By
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It’s pretty obvious by now what the 2021 Ford Bronco‘s intended target is: the Jeep Wrangler. The promised off-road chops, the heavily-alluded-to boxy styling, the middleweight size — hell, even the engine output all point to an SUV that seeks to knock the fabled four-wheeler off its pedestal as America’s favorite off-road lifestyle vehicle.

But perhaps no feature of the new Bronco speaks more to Ford’s Wrangler-killing aims than the fact that, like the Jeep, you’ll apparently be able to toss off the SUV’s doors when you want to feel a little more fresh air. We’ve already seen a patent that suggests Ford has found a way to make driving al fresco safer by adding retractable, inflatable door guards to keep occupants from being tossed out; now, another patent reveals that Ford may have found a way to make it easier to take those doors off in the first place.

The U.S. patent application was published earlier this month, and dug up by the sleuths over at Car and Driver on Friday. While it doesn’t mention the Bronco by name, it seems like the sort of concept that would be perfect for the new off-roader. (Ford’s illustration depicts it on something resembling a Flex, but that wagonoid model seems as likely to score removable doors as a Porsche 911 is a hydrogen fuel cell.)

The patent application, simply put, describes a latch-based system for removing vehicular doors. The latches would stay locked when the doors were in one selected position (presumably closed), but once the doors are moved to a second position (presumably open), they could be switched from locked to unlocked — perhaps by hand, or using some sort of extention tool.

The Wrangler (and Gladiator, for what it’s worth) both require a set of wrenches and screwdrivers to remove the doors. It’s easier than in previous generations of Jeeps — the brand provides a tiny toolkit with everything needed, as well as pictographic instructions — but it still winds up being a process of removing quite a few screws and bolts both inside and outside of the vehicle. Ford’s process sounds not only simpler, but quicker.

Now, whether this will prove the Bronco’s killer app or just another arrow in its Jeep-fighting quiver remains to be seen. But it seems likely that, if Ford is serious about offering a system like this on its new off-roader, it’ll encourage owners to doff their doors more frequently — which will hopefully encourage more brands to offer this sort of feature.

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Will Sabel Courtney

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

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