Ford Performance Unveils 400HP V8-Powered Bronco DR Desert Racer

For those fans of Ford’s reborn Bronco pining for V8 power under its hood, Ford Performance is delivering just that — but not for the street. Following in its long tradition of offering turn-key racers like the Mustang Cobra Jet and the Mustang FP350S road racer, the Blue Oval’s in-house hot-rudders are set to offer a turn-key off-road machine known as the Bronco DR, a.k.a. Desert Racer, which the company revealed to us at the Bronco Off-Roadeo location outside Las Vegas, Nevada.

“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,” Mark Rushbrook, Ford Performance Motorsports global director, said. “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.”

Designed using a Fast CAD process and previewed with virtual reality, the visage of the race-ready Bronco DR is made up of resin transfer molded fiberglass body panels. Its design drew inspiration from classics Broncos as well as the Bronco R.

That chassis is modified to accept a Ford Performance Gen 3 Coyote 5.0-liter crate engine, which is expected to produce 400 horsepower. It sends that power through a 10R80 10-speed automatic transmission and electric, shift-on-the-fly transfer case sourced from the F-150 pickup for their rugged capabilities. 

While the V8 power is great, putting it to use off-road requires a suspension setup that is up to the task. Engineers added another 5-inches of suspension travel over the 10-inches offered on the production Bronco, and partnered with Multimatic — which supplied parts for other Ford Performance projects, and builds the iconic Ford GT supercar — on cutting edge suspension dampers.

Tipping the scales at 6,200 pounds, the Bronco DR is propelled by a Gen 3 Coyote crate engine that should deliver 400 horsepower. Its upgraded suspension and 37-inch tires deliver an approach angle of 47 degrees, a departure angle of 37 degrees, and a breakover angle of 33 degrees, and its suspension delivers 55.1-percent more suspension travel up front, at 15.8 inches, and 58.6 percent more in back, at 17.4 inches.

The company delivered its Multimatic Positional Selective DSSV Dampers specially calibrated and constructed for the hazardous and grueling off-road environs. They make use of the company’s proprietary spool valve dampers, which offer precision adjustability of damping and rebound with three damping levels of bump and two levels of rebound stroke. The front dampers feature 80mm diameter main-body tubes fitted with high-capacity, finned fluid returns located at the valve exits.

Multimatic developed its DSSV specifically for the Bronco DR and its off-road mission. These dampers are fitted with 22mm shafts and 70mm pistons. They measure 842mm in front with a stroke of 260mm, while out back they measure 1,000mm with a 425mm stroke. The front suspension benefits from billet aluminum lower control arms, while the front uppers and rear lowers are production Bronco pieces.

“The fluid has been compressed, and it loses its pressure going through the valve, which generates heat. Immediately it goes into those cooling fins and it can’t cavitate it, there’s no way to cavitate it,” Multimatic’s Chief Technical Officer Larry Holt explained. “Whereas with a with a shimmed damper they’ll cavitate, and you’ve got to put more gas pressure in, which isn’t a good thing.”

Bronco DR puts that durable damping to use in concert with the Bronco’s High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension, and hardware upgrades like billet lower control arms up front. Its traction is enhanced thanks to 37-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 all-season tires mounted on beadlock wheels. Proven in Baja, these tires feature a special Krawl-TEK compound for better traction on the rocks and in the wet.

While this machine still has a lot of testing and refinement in front of it, Ford Performance will offer 50 vehicles for sale with availability near the end of 2022. Apparently Ford will list the selling price somewhere above $200,000. Better get in line!

Mounted high and out back are a production F-150 radiator and fans to keep the Bronco DR cool. Its overflow tank is mounted as high as possible and the fill cap pops through the roof panel. Below the cargo area is a 65-gallon fuel tank.

“This is a ground-up build, which is a bit unique in itself,” Rushbrook added. “At the heart of what we did here was capture the enthusiasm surrounding Bronco, and then build on it by creating a desert racer that is competition-ready coming out of the factory – something Ford has never done before.”

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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