New Ford Bronco Desert Racer gets Mustang V8

Bronco DR will take on 2022 Baja 1000… and Ford is building them for customers, too!

By Matt Bird / Tuesday, November 2, 2021 / Loading comments

Usually it went that the USA was jealous of the cars offered to Europeans and not to them. Now it seems the roles have started to reverse somewhat. The States now gets cars like the Cadillac Blackwings, the new Nissan Z and a manual BMW M3 not offered to Europe, which doesn’t seem at all fair. And now the balance swings even further in favour of our cousins across the pond with this, the Ford Bronco Desert Racer. Which looks like a very cool Baja racer, because that’s exactly what is it – except more because Ford is going to make a few for off-roady types that aren’t rally raid champions to actually buy. And you thought a Defender Trophy was a cool way to spend £200k…

As might have been expected for a Ford Performance model with a motorsport remit, the DR is a thorough job. Gone is the six-cylinder engine found in a regular four-door Bronco, replaced with the Coyote 5.0 V8 from the Mustang. Ford is planning on more than 400hp, which ought to be ample, powering through the 10R80 automatic gearbox from the F-150 and locking differentials. You’re probably expecting it to sound quite good, and you’d be absolutely right.

But there’s more to the Bronco DR than a big V8 and a cool paint job. Ford really is going to race this, and so motorsport hardware is found throughout. The dampers are from Multimatic, using the same DSSV technology as used in the GT; the Canadian manufacturer has also contributed billet aluminium lower control arms and a roll cage to the build. The DR also gets 37-inch BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain tyres, beadlock wheels, uprated brakes, a bigger 65-gallon fuel tank, reworked steering for better articulation and all-new body – the resin transfer moulded fibreglass panels sit on a Bronco four-door chassis. The interior is sort of recognisable as a Bronco one, albeit without air-con (because off-road race car) and with a Motec digital dash.

The impact of the modifications promises to be significant; Ford says it’s aiming for the Desert Racer to have 55 per cent more front suspension travel and 58 per cent more rear travel than a standard Bronco Badlands. The predicted off-road angles read like a mistake: an approach of 47 degrees, departure of 37 and breakover of 33. Apparently the DR will have “the capability to take on the nastiest routes.”

Furthermore, the car buyers will actually be offered isn’t some watered down motorsport special that just puts the stripes on a regular production model – this is it. What comes out of the factory will be a turnkey race car also offered to customers, which is not something Ford says it has done before. Even the production GT40s were turned down a bit.

The Baja link for the Bronco Desert Racer is very deliberate, moreover. The original car took wins at the 1000 in the 60s and 70s, and the new Bronco has proved successful in the desert as well in production categories. The next logical step is to go for outright victory once more. That’s the plan for 2022 at any rate, with the customer DR variant lined up for later in that year as a 2023MY car. Even with an asking price set to be in excess of $200k, an initial run of just 50 and no on-road viability, don’t be surprised if a lot of people want this Bronco. What else are State Vehicular Recreation Areas for if not Desert Racers?

“Bronco DR exists to give hardcore off-road enthusiasts a Built Wild, turnkey 4×4 to compete in desert racing events, including the unforgiving Baja 1000,” said Mark Rushbrook, Ford Performance Motorsports global director. “It started with the Bronco four-door – the platform and chassis are production true, and then we modified and optimized every aspect and built the vehicle hardcore off-road enthusiasts want.” If only giving the people what they wanted always looked so good. Full spec details are expected nearer the on-sale date and competition debut but, really, what more do you need to know? Time to see if there’s any long lost American family out there…

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