Half-a-century ago, Ford’s Bronco delivered a victory in the Baja 1000 race. It was the first and only time a 4X4 truck won the grueling overland test. And, when the green flag falls on the next Baja 1000 later this month, there will be another Bronco – a one-off Ford Bronco R – amongst the starters. It will be wearing livery inspired by the 1969 racer. The winning 1969 driver was Rod Hall.
Ford Bronco Debut Planned In Spring
Now, that’s great news for fans of the Baja 1000. However, there’s even better news for fans of the Bronco itself. Ford has been hinting rather broadly that the new Bronco will debut sometime next spring. The last new Bronco to debut was about 26 years ago (1993).
In newly released images from Ford, the Bronco R features compressed body height. It also features a long-travel suspension. The composite body has a clamshell hood plus roof and body panels that are a retro look to remind fans of the first-generation Ford Bronco, made from 1966 to 1977. As noted, this version of the Bronco is race-ready, although it is a one-off build.
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Inside, the three-member Baja racing team will sit on lightweight racing seats from Recaro. Also, the instrument panel surfaces echo the first-generation Bronco. Though the Bronco R looks back at the first-gen SUV, there’s nothing old about the data system. The Baja racer uses a MoTeC data-acquisition for real-time monitoring.
Baja-Racing Bronco Heads To Grueling Venue
As it is picking up data, the Bronco R will be taking part in one of off-road racing’s most grueling and punishing events. Over the last 50 years of the 1,000-mile race, up to 50 percent of the participating race vehicles end up in the DNF (Did Not Finish) category because of the terrain. Vehicles are, more often than not, sidelined with broken axles or suspensions. Or, they may throw a half-shaft by coming down in a rough patch at just the wrong angle. Many times, the racing machines also end up broken by crashes into trees, rocks, or holes.
The Baja 1000 is an open-class race. It is open to many different types of off-road vehicles, from motorcycles and dune buggies to full 4X4 trucks like the Bronco R.
Development of the Bronco R was a partnership. Ford Performance collaborated with Geiser Brothers Design and Development and legendary Baja 1000 Trophy Truck champion Cameron Steel. Interestingly, while the racing truck’s design does pay homage to the Bronco’s heritage, the proportions and many design features will likely show up in the Bronco when it appears in the spring.
The prototype racer mirrors the upcoming Bronco. The racing truck uses a modified Ford T6 architecture as its basis. The same architecture will the basis for the production model.
Racer Isn’t A Genteel SUV
The racer has a huge suspension travel of 14 inches. It uses 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, and 37-inch BFGoodrich tires.
Source: The Ford Authority: The Ford Authority is one of the leading independent sources of news and information about all Ford products. It also features information provided by Ford-related sites and manufacturers.
About the author
Marc Stern has been an auto writer since 1971. It was a position that filled two boyhood dreams: One was that I would write, and two that I write about cars. When I took over as my newspaper’s auto editor, I began a 32-year career as an automotive columnist. There isn’t much on four wheels that I haven’t driven or reviewed. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. Today, I am the Ford F150 reporter for Torque News. I write how-to and help columns for online sites such as Fixya.com and others. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook.