As O.J. Simpson waits to get out of a Nevada prison, the vehicle he made famous could be earning its current owner a big payday in the Silver State.
The white Ford Bronco that carried Simpson during the infamous 1994 slow-speed chase on Los Angeles freeways is the featured item on Monday’s episode of History’s Pawn Stars (10 ET/PT).
For Pawn star and Las Vegas pawn-shop operator Rick Harrison, who buys all manner of property on the long-running reality series, the vehicle has a history that attracts and repels.
“I try and stay away from stuff (connected to) bad people, but it’s so iconic,” he tells USA TODAY. “The O.J. Bronco is really a bizarre part of history. My 14-year-old son doesn’t know anything about the ’90s … but he knows about the Bronco.”
Harrison says he was approached by the vehicle’s current owner, former Simpson agent Mike Gilbert, who tells him he bought it from Simpson friend and chase chauffeur A.C. Cowlings. In the episode, Gilbert says he previously turned down an offer of $500,000 for the vehicle, which he says is a 1992 model driven just 36,000 miles.
The timing may be good for a sale, as Simpson, serving a prison sentence since being convicted in connection with a 2007 Las Vegas armed robbery, recently was back in the news, gaining parole after a hearing that drew millions of viewers. The former NFL star, who was acquitted of the 1994 murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her companion, Ronald Goldman, could be out of jail by October.
Harrison first verified that the Bronco, which is actually a 1993 model, was the one used in the televised chase, which mesmerized viewers and drew huge ratings. (Simpson drove a matching Bronco that has since been destroyed.).
Harrison says he looked at the title to find Cowlings’ name, checked the vehicle identification number and was satisfied he had the right car. (In 2014, USA TODAY traced ownership of the vehicle on the 20th anniversary of the chase, determining it to be in the possession of Michael Pulwer. A 2016 ESPN report says Gilbert, Pulwer and a third man own the SUV.)
In Monday’s episode, Harrison assesses the vehicle, which appears to be in pristine shape, and takes it for a spin. (“I get the back seat and we’re getting on the freeway,” shop employee Chumlee Russellsays in the show.)
“It’s in amazing condition. It’s been in storage ever since then,” he says.
“It felt like bad mojo driving in it. It felt a little weird,” Harrison says. “But it’s a neat piece of history, the whole O.J. trial, the whole fascination with it.”
Harrison says it can be difficult to assess a one-of-a-kind piece of property tied to a specific event, since potential buyers may attach wildly different valuations based on their personal feelings.
At auction, he estimates the Bronco could go for anywhere from $300,000 to $1 million, a price that limits the number of potential buyers.
Viewers will find out Monday if Harrison decides to buy the Bronco.
“It’s a super-famous car,” he says. “But there’s also a really nasty stigma attached to it.”