In the dawning of the electric age are we bad for still wanting a V8 Bronco? In a perfect world, it is what most Bronco enthusiasts want. Now Ford has responded with the 2023 Bronco DR. But it is not for the street, but instead, is a high-priced, high-riding hardcore off-road monster.
The Bronco DR is a handbuilt four-door off-road racer
Built strictly for racing, this is a limited-production Bronco that is essentially handbuilt. It does use a production four-door Bronco frame, but that is about the only thing that is production-based. “Bronco DR is our ultimate turnkey off-road racing SUV, engineered to put enthusiasts behind the wheel of a desert racing force,” says Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports. “The DR adds to the Bronco desert racing legacy that dates back to Rod Hall and Larry Minor’s never-repeated overall Baja 1000 win in a stock Bronco in 1969.”
As you would expect, it is highly modified, starting with a roll cage. Power is from a 5.0-liter third-generation Coyote V8 engine. With over 400 hp, it spins the 10R80 transmission taking power to all four corners. That happens with the F-150 transfer case. The diffs are electronic-locking both front and back.
Everything on the Bronco DR is custom or highly modified for racing
Most of the suspension both fore and aft is modified, starting with Multimatic Positional Selective DSSV dampers at the corners. They’re finned for added cooling. Billet aluminum Multimatic lower control arms are also utilized.
With these improvements, suspension travel has been significantly increased to 15.8-inches in the front, and 17.4-inches in the rear. Those numbers are more than 50-percent better than Bronco’s Badlands package. Outside, massive fender flares cover the BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3s that are 37-inch rollers.
Bronco DR improvements over the Bronco Badlands are huge
The cumulative improvement with all of these suspension mods brings the approach angle to 47 degrees, the break-over angle to 33 degrees, and a 37-degree departure angle. Those significantly overshadow the Badlands four-door 43.2 degrees, 26.3 degrees, and 37 degrees numbers.
That big scoop on the top feeds air to the radiator mounted in the back. Why put the radiator there? Because it helps to protect it from debris and potential front-end collisions. It also gives some extra space for the engine, though we would expect the engine to be moved slightly back from its stock location. For the long desert rally courses, a 65-gallon fuel tank assures plenty of miles without a gas stop.
Everything that could be removed for a weight advantage is gone
The Baja runner has been stripped of almost all of the factory-installed components that add weight. All of the glass is removed, and fiberglass body panels help too. They’re also cheap and easy to replace during a race. Obviously, the air conditioning, sound deadener, and interior panels got pitched.
Now, if you’re thinking the idea of taking a factory-built Baja runner and entering races sounds good, be aware that prices will be around $250,000. Initially, 50 Bronco DR racers will be built, and go on sale late in 2022. And by then you’ll have competition from Ford itself.
The automaker plans on entering a factory-backed DR in the 2022 SCORE Baja 1000. With red, white, and blue paint, it harkens back to that Bronco-winning 1969 Baja 1000 race. Other Bronco highlights were class wins in 1967, 1971, and 1972, as well as wins in the Baja 500 and many other off-road races.
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