Did that headline grab your attention? As proponents of unmuffled V8 engines, it certainly grabbed ours. Gearheads have been shouting for an eight-cylinder Bronco ever since the first sketches of the Wrangler-fighter appeared all those years ago. Yesterday, in the desert near Las Vegas, Ford finally introduced such a rig.
There’s a catch, of course: the Bronco DR is strictly meant for off-road racing. And it’ll cost a cool quarter-mil.
Nevertheless, it’s a factory-built Bronco equipped with a Coyote 5.0-liter V8 and 10-speed automatic, both of which are (relatively) off-the-shelf items from the Blue Oval cupboard. More good news: The purpose-built Bronco DR shown on these digital pages might have a specialized body hewn from resin transfer molded fiberglass but Ford insists it retains the same frame and body structure as found on proletariat-grade four-door models.
The engine has a targeted output of 400 horsepower, a new vernacular employed by many manufacturers as a hedge against failing to meet stated goals. Ford should have nothing to worry about in this department, however, since this mill easily makes those types of numbers in other Blue Oval machines.
The rest of the Bronco DR (Desert Racer, if you’re wondering) reads like the mission statement from a custom off-road house. Multimatic position selective DSSV dampers play well with billet aluminum lower control arms good for 15.8 inches of front wheel travel and 17.4 inches of flex in the rear. Those measures are 55 percent and 58 percent more than a stock Badlands, respectively. Approach angles are jacked to 47 degrees, about five greater compared to a Bronco equipped with factory 35-inch meats – thanks in no small part to the 37-inch BFGoodrich KM3 mud-terrain tires. Its track width pushes through the 73-inch barrier, almost ten inches more than stock, and the whole thing weighs a meaty 6,200 pounds.
There is space inside for a driver and co-pilot, perched atop aggressive Sparco seats and enveloped by a Multimatic FEA-optimized full safety cage. Ford says the cabin retains a hint of the production truck’s dual-cowl atmosphere, but you really need to squint to see it. A huge central bank of buttons controlling everything from locking diffs to helmet dust pumpers looks great and should make its way into the Ford Performance catalog but surely never will. Mark Rushbrook, Ford Performance Motorsports global director, calls it a “turnkey 4×4 to compete in desert racing events”, though we just call it bloody cool.
Well-heeled off-roaders can get their fix in late 2022 when the first 50 copies of the 2023 Bronco DR will become available for sale. Price is yet to be nailed down, with Ford spox committing only to saying this beast is going to bear a starting price in the mid-$200,000 range.
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