Ford Bronco R racer hints at production 4X4…will take on Baja 1000

By Isaac Bober 4 Min Read

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Rod Hall’s Baja 1000 win with a Bronco, the Ford Bronco R race prototype has been built to pay homage to the original racer and tease the new Ford Bronco – it’ll compete at the Baja 1000 on 22 November.

Don’t read too much into the look of the Ford Bronco R race prototype, says Ford, it only hints at the upcoming Bronco production vehicle. Built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rod Hall’s Baja 1000 win, it’s been painted up to look like that original Bronco racer and it’ll be driven by Hall’s granddaughter, Shelby Hall for a part of this year’s Baja 1000 (22 November).

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Indeed, while it might only be a prototype, Ford is entering the Bronco R into this year’s Baja 1000 to “challenge the production Bronco’s powertrain and architecture”. The Bronco R was developed by Ford Performance in collaboration with Geiser Bros Design and Development and Baja 1000 Trophy Truck champion Cameron. Ford said, the heritage cues and proportions hint at what we can expect from the production version.

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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 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 honour Rod Hall’s win, it also provides an authentic test bed to demonstrate our upcoming Bronco’s desert racing capability and durability.”

Designed and built in secret this year, the Bronco R was intended to have a race-ready look “with an overall heritage-inspired design language”.

“With its compressed body height and long-travel suspension, Bronco R features an ultra-wide stance, while a variety of aero components reinforce its performance intent. The prototype’s lightweight composite body includes a clamshell hood and roof, as well as clean body panels that harken back to the first-generation Bronco models (1966 – 1977). A cut-roof design allows rear seat passengers to use a second-row hatch for access,” Ford said.

The Bronco R is built on a modified Ford T6 architecture (Ranger and Everest) that will provide the base for the production model. Beefed up for Baja, Bronco R features an independent front suspension with 14 inches (355mm) of travel and a production-based five-link rear chassis design with up to 18 inches (457mm) of travel, plus custom Fox shocks, 17-inch beadlock-capable aluminium wheels and 37-inch BFGoodrich tires.

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“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 1000 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.”

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