FORD has taken the wraps off a race-spec Bronco R prototype that the company itself says provides solid clues as to what the production vehicle will look like when it’s launched in the second quarter of 2020.
Like the upcoming Bronco production model, the Bronco R race prototype is built on Ford’s T6 platform, which is the basis for the Aussie-developed Ford Ranger.
The prototype also runs a twin-turbo V6 petrol engine, and Ford hinted that this powerplant will be also used in the production model, although whether that’s the 2.7-litre petrol V6 or the 3.5-litre version is unclear.
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“For the endurance needs of Baja’s 1000 gruelling miles, we built in a limited number of race-focussed parts, but even the twin turbos of the EcoBoost engine are representative of what the production Bronco will offer,” said Brian Novak, Ford Performance's off-road racing supervisor.
The Bronco R was built by Ford Performance in collaboration with builder Geiser Bros Design and Development, and Baja 1000 Trophy Truck champion Cameron Steele.
At its unveiling near Las Vegas, the Bronco R prototype pulled up alongside the famous Bronco that Rod Hall and Larry Minor drove to the overall win in the 1969 Baja 1000, a feat not achieved by any other 4x4 vehicle in the long history of the event.
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“Bronco’s win at Baja in 1969 was epic, something that even after 50 years has not been repeated,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's chief product development officer.
“Rugged endurance racing is such a big part of Bronco heritage. The Baja 1000 gives us not only the perfect setting to honour Rod Hall’s win, but it also provides an authentic testbed to demonstrate our upcoming Bronco’s desert racing capability and durability.”
The red, black and white colour scheme of the Bronco R is a tribute to the race-winning vehicle run by Rod Hall and Larry Minor in the Baja 1000 50 years ago (below), and Ford is no doubt hoping for a repeat of the pair’s success when it runs this vehicle in the Baja 1000 this year, starting on November 22.
The ‘2069’ on the Bronco R’s flanks refer to the class in which the vehicle will run (20) and the year in which Hall and Minor won the event (69).
The Bronco R has been “beefed up for Baja”, and its independent front suspension set-up provides an impressive 14 inches of travel, while the production-based five-link rear-end provides up to 18 inches of travel.
The Bronco R also scores custom Fox shocks - the same brand fitted to the local Ranger Raptor - as well as 17-inch beadlock aluminium wheels and 37-inch BFGoodrich tyres.
The late Rod Hall’s granddaughter Shelby, who was at the unveiling of the Bronco R, was impressed by the race prototype.
“My grandfather was so proud of the 1969 Baja race and of his Bronco,” she said. “More than just the memory of winning Baja, he loved that Bronco. I have no doubt he would be blown away by the Bronco R race prototype.”