Fifty years ago, Rod Hall and Larry Minor drove a Ford Bronco in the 1969 Baja 1000. The duo came out winners, creating a victory that hasn’t been replicated by any other 4X4s since. With Ford set to revive the Bronco brand, there’s no better time to release a tribute and a tease of the upcoming release, and so they did, unveiling the Ford Bronco R race prototype.
“Bronco’s win at Baja in 1969 was epic, something that even after 50 years has not been repeated,” says Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s 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 test bed to demonstrate our upcoming Bronco’s desert racing capability and durability.”
The team didn’t go crazy overhauling the Bronco R race prototype, opting instead to keep the car’s look. “Life the original Bronco,” explained Brian Novak, Ford Performance off-road racing supervisor, “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. 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.” The prototype took full advantage of the Bronco’s Ford T6 architecture, beefing it up with independent front suspensions and 14 inches of travel. The five-link rear chassis design is production-based and has 18 inches of travel. Custom Fox shocks were added and 17-inch beedlock-capable aluminum wheels shod in 37-inch BFGoodrich tires finished the look.
The Bronco R is done up in a racing livery that was inspired by Rod Hall’s Bronco. The exterior is further spruced up with 15 separate LED light bars. The grille also features Bronco lettering—just in case you were wondering what make the racer is. The Bronco R also features rear seats, but only has two doors, so you’ll have to access that back row through the roof.
The Bronco R isn’t just a showpiece to show off the new Bronco. It will actually take on the 1,000-mile course of the Baja and will be driven by Rod’s granddaughter, Shelby Hall.