Ford Bronco R Ready to Tear-Up Baja Terrain

The world is shy of quality, body-on-frame 4X4s of late, and Ford’s new Bronco is here to give off-road enthusiasts and professionals one more option. Starting life as a raging Baja racer, the squared-off SUV is itching to throw dirt in the faces of its competitors.

Ford hasn’t revealed what will power its new racer, but early reports reveal it will be motivated by an engine that’s closely related to its eventual production counterpart, meaning it will likely pack the brand’s proven 3.5-litre Eco-Boost V6, or perhaps a heavily tuned version of the 2.7-litre. In this competitive guise it will focus on boost over economy, but as discussed in our AMG Project ONE deep-dive, economical engines win races.

As in any off-road racer, the vehicle’s suspension is key, with long-travel composure of utmost importance. In this department, the new Bronco R shines, what with its 14-inches of travel up front, and a massive 18-inches of travel at the rear. Ford worked with FOX to develop bespoke shocks which are tuned to suit this race truck’s dynamics.

Small-ish 17-inch aluminum wheels are wrapped in massive 37-inch BFGoodrich tires, gifting the truck with tall sidewalls, which are essential for traction and shock absorbtion while high-tailing it across the great beyond. We hope and trust that Ford will option the production version of the Bronco with 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, for this very reason.

The production Bronco is likely to feature an all-aluminum body, much like the F-150, but this race version is enclosed with composite shells affixed to a highly modified chassis, reinforced with a tubular frame for rigidity and driver safety. We can day-dream that the forthcoming Bronco will roll out of showrooms with a composite roof.

Based on the Ford Ranger’s T6 mid-size truck platform, the new Bronco will offer a blend of serious off-road ability with modern-era efficiency, taking aim squarely at the Jeep Wrangler JL.

Today’s launch of the Bronco R celebrates five decades since the original Bronco scored an overall victory in the now-historic Baja 1000 race in the hands of racer Rod Hall. Ford Performance has undoubtedly gone to great lengths to capture another victory 50 years on.

“Bronco’s win at Baja in 1969 was epic,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development and purchasing officer.

“Rugged endurance racing is such a big part of Bronco heritage. The Baja 1000 gives us not only the perfect setting to honor Rod Hall’s win, it also provides an authentic test bed to demonstrate our upcoming Bronco’s desert racing capability and durability.”

“Like the original Bronco, we kept Bronco R’s design authentic and simple, with a roll cage on a production-style frame, and a five-piece lightweight body on top,” said Brian Novak, Ford Performance off-road racing supervisor.

“For the endurance needs of Baja’s 1,000 grueling miles, we built in a limited number of race-focused parts. But even the twin turbos of the EcoBoost® engine are representative of what the production Bronco will offer.”

One thing is clear: the Bronco R is in it to win it. Best of luck to the Ford Performance team as they attack the desert race, which kicks off November 19.

[Source and photo credit: Ford]


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