Test-Mule-A-Rangerado?
Marc Stern's picture

Ford Bronco Test Mule Reskinned In GM Garb; The Question Is: Why?

There's a weird-looking mashup of a Ford Ranger and a Chevy Colorado running around the Ford Proving Ground in Michigan, the question of the moment is what is it doing there and the second question is why?
Advertisement

Here’s a sleuthing story that has us, at Torque News, scratching our heads. The question of the moment is this: why is there a Chevy Colorado-bodied pickup running around the Ford Research and Development Center, Dearborn. And, why is it that the Colorado body is on a Ford test vehicle?

Ford Bronco or Rangerado, What Is It?

The Ford Authority, which noticed the weird-looking mashup of vehicles, is as puzzled as we are at Torque News. The strange-looking – the proportions are all wrong – pickup could be called a Ford ColoRanger or the Rangerado, but no one is saying that. Indeed, Ford folks are keeping quite tight-lipped about the whole thing.

An even more puzzling fact that when it was driving on the public roads, the Rangerado had an unusual shadow vehicle, a right-hand drive (English style) Ford Everest (not sold in the U.S.). Though it not sold here, the Everest uses the same platform as the Ford Ranger. Just informatively, Ford has just recalled Rangers to repair a front passenger seatbelt issue.

Interestingly, the mule on which the Ford installed the Colorado body pieces features a much shorter wheelbase than the Chevy product. Another key difference is that usually, Colorado features separate cabs and truck beds, while the Rangerado test mule has one unit a cab and bed, riveted together. That makes the Ford Authority think that the vehicle isn’t “a Chevrolet or GM product whatsoever.”

Ford Bronco Or Courier, Another Mule?

Grabbing their sleuthing gear – hat and magnifying glass and pipe – the folks at the Ford Authority took a look at the license plates plastered on the test mule and concluded: “We think it unlikely that this is a GM product borrowing time at the Ford proving grounds.” The reason is the plates used on the Rangerado test mule, and its escort Everest is only 11 digits apart. It also means they come from the same sequence of plates that Ford purchases in bulk from the state DMV. The Ford Authority concluded that “there’s no reason for a GM/Chevrolet prototype to wear a Ford manufacturer license plate.”

Some have surmised that the Rangerado test mule may be the upcoming Ford Courier (refer3). Sources also indicated the Courier to come in under the Ranger in price points. However, since the folks at the Ford Authority have seen the Courier test mule in the wild, they concluded that it wasn’t that vehicle.

Please, click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily, Ford, Volkswagen and Automotive industry news.

From all of this sleuthing, the Ford Authority – and Torque News – believe that the Rangerado isn’t unique at all. Instead, it is likely a very well concealed Ford Bronco test mule. The reason the Ford Authority speculates that Ford is driving a Rangerado around the proving grounds is “to divert attention away from Ford and its Bronco initiate in response to all of the negative feedback the original received.”

Ford Bronco Undergoes Stability Test

When they spotted the test mule rolling around the proving grounds, they noted there were vertical poles attached front and rear. They are stability outriggers that drop for stability testing. Sources indicate that the outriggers were, indeed, deployed when they performed aggressive stability testing. Speaking of testing, Ford Ranger had a successful Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests series, though some wonder why there was no Top Safety Pick?

While the Ford Authority asks its readers whether it is the Courier or a new Bronco test mule, Torque News thinks it is more than likely the Bronco. So, what do you think?

You can ask Marc a question or give your opinion to him in the comments section below or you can also contact him at @iraradioguy He can also be contacted via Facebook at mstern001


Subscribe to Torque News on YouTube.


Follow Torque News on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

Why? Are you kidding? What has been the purpose of camouflage on test vehicles for many years?
The thing of this is, the mule looks like a weird mashup of the Ranger and the Colorado or, maybe worse, it looks like an F150 with the middle taken out and the wheels put together. Take a look at yesterday's Ford Authority for an interesting view of about 17 images. As to why for the camo, you're right, it has been used for the nearly 50 years I have written about cars. I've seen lots of camo-covered vehicles, all of them test mules. Many of them made it past the proving ground stage, while others were folded by the automakers because the market or something else had passed them by.
Manufacturers frequently put competitors badging and stuff on their mules.
True. It's just another way, besides all that camo shelf paper they stick all over their mules, to try to keep the spies from finding things out. Funny, they do anyway.