What Happened to the White Bronco From the O.J. Simpson Chase?
With a famous car chase comes a famous vehicle. There may be no more famous — or infamous — vehicle than the Ford white Bronco from O.J. Simpson’s freeway chase, which riveted the nation.
Simpson was once one of the most beloved figures in all of sports. The USC running back won the Heisman Trophy in 1968 and went on to a Hall of Fame NFL career. Simpson broke records with the Buffalo Bills in his early days before finishing his career with his hometown San Francisco 49ers in 1979.
The San Francisco native was handsome, charismatic, and extremely marketable, as evidenced by his wildly popular Hertz commercials. With Simpson’s playing days behind him, he took a shot at the movie business and was successful there as well, hilariously starring in the Naked Gun franchise alongside Leslie Nielsen.
But June 17, 1994, and the white Bronco changed everything. There was a dark side to Simpson that had never truly been called into question, at least not to the general public. There was also a history of abuse against his ex-wife, Nicole Brown. So when she and 25-year-old Ron Goldman were found brutally murdered on June 12, 1994, the police wanted to talk with Simpson. O.J. wasn’t ready to talk, which led to one of the wildest nights in American history.
95 million people watched the white Bronco in O.J. Simpson’s car chase
On June 17, 1994, the police had scheduled Simpson to surrender himself by 11:00 am PST. He’d become a person of interest in the murders of his ex-wife and her friend. But he was a no-show. As the hours went by, nobody knew where Simpson was. But soon enough, everyone figured it out.
Simpson became a fugitive of justice, and the police issued a warrant for his arrest. At approximately 6:45 pm, a news chopper spotted a white Ford Bronco on an LA expressway and the chase was on. For the next few hours, more than 95 million people tuned in to watch the low-speed chase through Southern California. It ended at Simpson’s home in Brentwood, California.
Driven by its owner Al Cowlings, a longtime friend and teammate of O.J., the white Bronco became nearly as famous as the two people inside of it. So what exactly happened to the white Bronco?
Al Cowlings wanted to get rid of the white Bronco
Many initially believed the white Bronco belonged to Simpson, as he had one exactly like it. But it belonged to Al Cowlings. Simpson’s was eventually seized as evidence and later destroyed.
Cowlings had played football alongside Simpson at every level, from high school to two different colleges to the NFL. During the chase, he called 911 and told authorities that O.J. had a gun to his own head and just wanted to get home before being taken into custody. The police arrested Cowlings that night for aiding a fugitive. Later, they dropped the charges.
As for the white Bronco, Cowlings was desperate to get rid of it following the chase and the “Trial of the Century.” In 2014, a friend of Cowlings, Don Kreiss, who worked for a sports agent, told USA Today that Cowlings had told him to find a buyer for the white Bronco. Kreiss found memorabilia collector Michael Kronick, who was set to pay $75,000 for it, but only if Cowlings threw in 250 autographed pictures of himself driving it.
Cowlings initially agreed to the deal. However, when the two were supposed to meet up on November 2, 1994 — the day before the jury was selected in O.J. Simpson’s criminal trial — Cowlings was a no-show. He first called Kreiss, who was also at the meeting, to tell him that he was running late. But then he called again to tell him the deal was off. Kronick sued Cowlings. They settled the dispute for an undisclosed amount.
Apparently, Cowlings didn’t like the fact that Kronick was going to use the white Bronco to recreate the chase, which would then end at Nicole Brown’s grave, as a tourist attraction. At least that’s what Simpson’s former agent, Mike Gilbert, told ESPN. Gilbert, Cowlings’ attorney Stanley Stone, and a man named Michael Pulwer, who made his fortune in the porn industry, finally rid Cowlings of the white bronco in 1995. They paid the same $75,000.
Where is the white Bronco from the O.J. Simpson chase today?
From 1995 to 2012, the story of the white Bronco is pretty boring. It just sat in an underground parking garage at Pulwer’s condo complex in LA. The battery was changed every so often, but it was rarely driven. In 17 years, less than 20 miles were put on the odometer.
All of a sudden, the white Bronco was on display at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. A man associated with the hotel had become aware of its whereabouts in LA. He got in contact with the owners and asked if he could use it for a few months to help with the opening of a new sports memorabilia museum. They agreed. The situation didn’t work out, however, because the white Bronco has to be disassembled outside to fit through the doors and then reassembled inside. Gilbert and the others didn’t like this.
In 2017, right around the time Simpson was released from prison after serving nine years for armed robbery and kidnapping, Gilbert attempted to sell the white Bronco for $1.3 million on reality show Pawn Stars. Host Rick Harrison chose to pass. Gilbert says he’ll never accept less than a million dollars for it. He calls it the second-most-viewed vehicle in American history, right behind the car in which JFK was assassinated.
Before that episode aired, however, Gilbert worked out a deal with the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. To this day, the white Bronco remains on display there, although Gilbert and his two partners still own it. Nobody is in a rush to sell it until the right price comes along.