Famous Bronco From OJ Chase Is Still Kicking

Feature in police chase that changed the nation is housed at Tennessee crime museum
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2024 7:37 AM CDT
Famous Bronco From OJ Chase Is Still Kicking
In this June 17, 1994, file photo, a white Ford Bronco driven by Al Cowlings and carrying OJ Simpson, is trailed by Los Angeles police cars as it travels on a freeway in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Joseph Villarin, File)

It was, as the Los Angeles Times reports, "a 'Where were you?' moment." While later generations would vividly recall the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, those a bit older remember the afternoon of June 17, 1994, when OJ Simpson, in the backseat of a white Ford Bronco, reportedly with a gun to his head, led police on a slow-speed pursuit through Los Angeles, driven by friend Al "AC" Cowlings. With Simpson's death, people can't help but harken back to that day, nearly 30 years ago, when Simpson was to surrender to charges of murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Quickly labeled a fugitive, Simpson delayed arraignment for hours until landing at his home in Brentwood, where he was taken into custody shortly before 9pm.

CNN and NBC interrupted coverage to broadcast the chase live. (Watch CNN's coverage here.) Though the event shouldn't have been globally or even nationally significant, it involved one of the most famous people in America, wanted for double murder. Cowlings had alerted police to Simpson's condition and asked them to back off, resulting in what was essentially a parade on LA freeways. For Simpson, a former star running back, it was "the most-watched run of his life," reports CBS Sports. Some 95 million people watched the chase unfold, more than tuned in to any Super Bowl in the 1990s. It's a fact some believe "helped make the Simpson trial a national obsession," per the Times.

The chase "ushered in the coming era of the 24-hour cable news cycle" and kicked off "a 16-month span of nonstop coverage of Simpson's murder trial that would ultimately end in his polarizing acquittal," per the Washington Post. It also made that 1993 Ford Bronco an icon, pushing sales of the vehicle upwards, per SlashGear. The Bronco belonged to Cowlings, though Simpson had an identical version that had been seized by police. Cowlings' Bronco was later sold to an associate for $200,000, per USA Today. It's now kept at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, "next to Ted Bundy's Volkswagen Bug and John Dillinger's red Essex Terraplane," the outlet reports. (More OJ Simpson stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.