Trucks & SUVs

The Ford Bronco 4600 Picks up Where the Baja Bronco R Left Off

Though the Bronco R couldn’t quite pull off a Baja win, Ford hasn’t pulled the plug on the SUV’s racing career. Besides hinting at a turn-key R, the Blue Oval is looking to start a new competitive chapter. One that starts with the recently-unveiled Ford Bronco 4600.

The Ford Bronco 4600 channels extreme Baja spirit

A gray 2021 Ford Bronco Badlands with Sasquatch Package in a desert rock field
2021 Ford Bronco Badlands with Sasquatch Package | Ford

Despite its stripped-down design, the Ford Bronco 4600 isn’t just a Bronco in name only. It has the same 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged V6, 4WD system, and 10-speed automatic as the Bronco Sasquatch, Automobile reports. And it has the same chassis as the road-going SUV, Car and Driver reports. However, every other part has been heavily modified for off-road race duty.

For starters, the Ford Bronco 4600 has remote-reservoir Fox coilovers with pneumatic bump stops, Roadshow reports. Those are attached to Method Race beadlock wheels fitted with 35” BFGoodrich mud-terrain T/A MK3 tires, MotorTrend reports. And, for some extra ground clearance, the racing SUV has front portal axles.

The red-white-and-blue 2021 Ford Bronco 4600 racer in the desert at night
2021 Ford Bronco 4600 racer | Ford

The dampers aren’t the only upgraded part of the suspension, though. The Ford Bronco 4600 has Triton Engineering control arms as well as strengthened axles and half-shafts, Road & Track reports. It also has a locking Howe hydraulic steering rack with its own dedicated cooler. Plus, while the front locking differential is the factory unit, in the rear is an ARB air-locking differential.

Considering how fast desert racing can be, the Ford Bronco 4600 features Wilwood Engineering brakes and a custom roll cage, Motor1 reports. It also has steel bumpers, a Warn Zeon winch, and multiple off-road LED lights. And inside are Recaro’s first FIA-certified off-road racing seats.

The rear 3/4 view of the red-white-and-blue 2021 Ford Bronco 4600 racer in the desert at night
2021 Ford Bronco 4600 racer rear 3/4 | Ford

The Ford Bronco 4600’s last noticeable feature, though, isn’t a piece of hardware or technology, Jalopnik reports. Its paint scheme is influenced by the original Baja-racing Bronco, the 1969 model that won the Baja 1000.

Will the Ford Bronco 4600 race in the same events as the Bronco R did?

The red-and-white 1969 Ford Bronco Baja racer next to the 2019 gray-and-red Ford Bronco R race prototype parked in the desert
1969 Ford Bronco Baja racer next to the 2019 Ford Bronco R race prototype | Ford

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While the Ford Bronco R didn’t finish its inaugural Baja race, it did complete the 2020 race. It still finished second in its class behind the SCG Boot, Autoblog reports. However, considering 86 of the 185 entrants didn’t even finish, that’s an achievement worth celebrating.

However, although both the Ford Bronco 4600 and Bronco R draw some inspiration from the 1969 racer, they’re technically not co-competitors. The former SUV is designed for the Ultra4 4600 Stock Class, Autoblog reports. Hence why it has the stock powertrain and chassis. And while the Ultra4 racing schedule includes grueling events like the King of the Hammers, Baja isn’t one of them.

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That being said, the Baja 1000 race does include a “Hammer Truck Limited” class that seems broadly similar to the 4600 Class. So, theoretically, you could take your own Ford Bronco 4600 to Baja. And soon, you might be able to do just that.

You might see some of its parts for sale in the future

Although the Bronco R didn’t win Baja outright, Ford took the lessons learned there to develop the Bronco 4600, Jalopnik reports. And it sees the current racer as a way to test aftermarket performance parts for the production model, Car and Driver reports. So, just as some of the Bronco R’s parts became available to ordinary people, the same will eventually happen to some of the Bronco 4600’s parts.

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In fact, a handful of them already are, The Drive reports. The steel bumper is a Ford Performance part, and it can accommodate the Warn winch. That roll cage comes from a Phoenix-based shop called Geiser Bros. And while Fox doesn’t have Bronco-compatible shocks listed quite yet, it’s all but certain they’ll be available soon.

As for how the Ford Bronco 4600 does once it slings sand in anger, we’ll have to wait and see.

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