The road-going version will be awesome.
Ford is gearing up to revive the Bronco nameplate with an all-new SUV, which will debut in Spring 2020. It will also be joined by a smaller model, rumored to be called the Bronco Sport. The excitement is quickly building for the arrival of the Bronco, which should give the Jeep Wrangler something to worry about with a rumored removable roof of its own. We will still have to wait several months before the Bronco is revealed but Ford has decided to give us an early taste with the new Bronco R Racing Prototype.
Ford built the Bronco R as a tribute to the Bronco used by Rod Hall and Larry Minor 50 years ago in their overall win at the 1969 Baja 100. The car even wears a racing livery inspired by Hall's winning car and will be driven by Shelby Hall - Rod's granddaughter - for portions of this year's Baja race.
The Bronco R acts as a tease for what we can expect from the road-going production model. It was developed by Ford Performance in collaboration with builder Geiser Bros Design and Development and Baja 1000 Trophy Truck champion Cameron Steele. The heritage-inspired design may not be exactly like the production version but it should be relatively close.
"Bronco's win at Baja in 1969 was epic, something that even after 50 years has not been repeated," 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 testbed to demonstrate our upcoming Bronco's desert racing capability and durability."
Using high-tech virtual reality, polygon modeling, and 3D printing to develop parts, Ford Performance built the Bronco R in just sixth months. "This wasn't our usual development process, but it was the right process for this project," said Paul Wraith, Bronco chief designer. "We found, created or adapted the right tool for the task at hand - a cool and exciting blend of old and new creative techniques. We stretched ourselves, but it was worth it - and great fun."
The racing prototype is built on a modified Ford T6 architecture, which will be used on the production model. The Bronco R then divulges from the production model underneath with a beefed-up independent front suspension offering 14 inches of travel, a production-based five-link rear chassis design with up to 18 inches of travel, custom Fox shocks, 17-inch Beadlock-capable aluminum wheels, and 37-inch BFGoodrich tires.
Brian Novak, Ford Performance off-road racing supervisor said, "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."
We aren't sure how much of the Bronco R's retro styling will make it to the production model but we hope the final design doesn't differ greatly from the race truck. Obvious details like the clamshell hood, LED light bars, and roll cage won't make production, but the overall shape should be preserved. "My grandfather was so proud of the 1969 Baja race and of his Bronco," said Shelby Hall. "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."