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Ford Motor plans to reveal the all-new Ford Bronco on July 9, which falls on the birthday of Orenthal James "O.J." Simpson.

Simpson, a former football star, rode in a white Ford Bronco leading a police chase that aired on live TV June 17, 1994, after he was charged with murder in the slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. 

"I gotta believe this is a mistake. Didn't anybody look at the calendar?" said John McElroy, veteran industry observer and Autoline.tv host. "Ford Motor Co. does not want to correlate the launch of such an iconic and important vehicle with a police chase with a notorious" person. "Everybody in the world knew that O.J. was fleeing in a white Ford Bronco."

The chase, a 60-mile slow-speed pursuit, was watched by 95 million people, according to KNSD-TV, the NBC affiliate in San Diego. 

Simpson was a passenger in the 1993 Bronco while his friend and former teammate Al Cowlings drove on I-405 in Southern California.

Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader, said, "I’m not quite sure what to say." 

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Simpson, whose televised murder trial lasted 11 months and generated international attention before ending in acquittal, later lost a wrongful death lawsuit.

He turns 73 on July 9.

When the car chase happened, Ford wasn't thrilled that so much was made of the fact Simpson fled in a Bronco and that the vehicle was so deeply entrenched in the story. 

McElroy said, "I'll make a prediction. They'll change the date."

No, actually. The company confirmed Monday the plan is a go.

"We're going to reveal Bronco just like we said we would on July 9," Mike Levine, Ford North America product communication manager, told the Free Press. 

He said Simpson's birthdate is "purely coincidental."

Ford first confirmed the Bronco world premiere date in a tweet June 13.

"It’s likely Ford didn’t realize the timing of the Bronco’s debut, as that aspect of the Bronco’s history is not one I imagine Ford celebrating," said Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book. "Unfortunately, unless Ford changes the date, it will be the lede, or at least a reference point, in every Bronco debut story."

The Bronco, which was built from 1966 to 1996, is poised to challenge Jeep among off-road adventure seekers in the fast-growing SUV segment.

Brian Moody, executive editor of Autotrader, said of the reveal date, "I’m sure it’s a coincidence, but it does go to show that bringing back the Bronco is the right move. The Ford Bronco is so completely woven into the cultural fabric of America, stumbling upon points of 'relevance' happen accidentally. Like the Mustang and F-150, Ford Bronco is forever part of America’s shared experience.”

The Bronco, which will be assembled at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, will go on sale next year. Ford will offer it in a two-door and four-door version.

Follow Phoebe Wall Howard on Twitter @phoebesaid

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