(Spoiler alert: Please do not read on if you haven’t watched Tuesday’s episode of “The People vs. O.J. Simpson”)
About halfway into tonight’s episode of “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” Marcia Clark turns away from the white Bronco chase on television and asks a very good question.
“How is O.J. back in his white Bronco?” the prosecutor, played by Sarah Paulson, asks. “I mean, the Bronco was full of blood. We impounded it. How could he be driving it again?”
“Believe it or not, there are two white Broncos,” Det. Tom Lange (played by Chris Bauer) replies. “A.C. Cowlings worships O.J. so much he bought the identical car.”
“Unbelievable,” Clark says.
Welcome back to O.J. Fact Check, in which TheWrap looks into the accuracy of FX’s captivating ten-part series. “O.J. Simpson” is not intended as docudrama, but there’s enough truth to it that it’s hard to tell what’s true and what isn’t. Today’s question:
WAIT, THERE WERE TWO WHITE BRONCOS?
THE POINT OF THE SCENE
Clark’s question is included in the episode to inform us that a) she is very smart and b) the show’s writers are also very smart.
If you watch the 21-year-old coverage of the real chase (see above), you’ll notice that newscasters refer to the white Bronco simply as Simpson’s vehicle. They just assume.
Hell: I was one of the many Angelenos — let me rephrase that — I was one of the every single Angelenos — who watched the chase in 1994. And we all just assumed it was O.J.’s Bronco. No one I’ve ever known has stopped to ask if the Bronco was the same one found parked outside Simpson’s house on the night his ex-wife and her friend were murdered. We just assumed.
We assumed wrong.
O.J.’s Bronco — the one parked outside his house, with the blood, had the license plate number 3CWZ788. Jeffrey Toobin’s “The Run of His Life,” which inspired the FX miniseries, tells us that Cowlings’ Bronco had the license plate number 3DHY503. The Bronco featured in the miniseries has a different license number to either Simpson’s or Cowlings’ Broncos, because it’s Hollywood.
Toobin’s book also reports that when detectives first checked the plates for Simpson’s Bronco, on the night of the killings, “they came back to the Hertz Corporation, whose products Simpson had long endorsed.” Additionally, the real-life witness on the show who saw the Bronco racing from the direction of the murder scene on the night of the murders remembered the license number, though she was slightly off.
As “This American Life” discovered, Simpson later went on to pretend to sell Broncos for a long-forgotten hidden-camera show.
So what became of Cowling’s Bronco? USA Today has the whole story.
Both white Broncos had their own owners, and their own fascinating journeys.
Chris Bauer, the actor who plays Lange, just appeared in a Super Bowl ad featuring another highway chase.