2021 Ford Bronco Details That Will Carry Over from the Baja Race Truck
The Bronco R is insane, but several things are pulled straight from the production Bronco.
Ford surprised everyone earlier this month when it dropped the hard-core Bronco R, which is not, of course, the production 2021 Bronco SUV due to officially appear early next year. Instead, it is a purpose-built race truck—we got a chance to to ride in it, too—destined for the brutal Baja 1000 off-road race in Mexico. While it is obvious that the '21 Bronco won't come without a windshield or with gaping holes in its bodywork, or that crazy wide stance, there is plenty that the Bronco R can tell us about the production Bronco. We've outlined seven aspects of the race truck that will carry over to the real deal next year, based on their resemblance to elements we've seen on a Bronco styling buck and Ford's own teaser images of the new rig:
1. That Boxy Roof Profile
Last year, Ford released images of what it said was the new Bronco under a sheet (and showed a similar, sheet-covered styling buck to journalists in person). If you compare the shape of the sheet, as defined by that covered-up Bronco's roofline, to the Bronco R's, you'll note a striking similarity. That's because the race truck's squared-off body shell is fairly close in its basic outline to that of the real Bronco hidden beneath that sheet. The windshield on both is fairly flat and upright, and their roofs are similarly long and flat. We're willing to bet that the final version of the new Bronco will also be the same.
2. The Grille Opening
Another clue hidden in that old image of the new Bronco under a sheet is the shape of its front end, which appears to have been mimicked here on the Bronco R. The SUV's face is blunt and upright, with a squared-off, full-width grille. On the production 2021 Ford Bronco, you can expect the headlights to be integrated into the grille, rather than the badass array of LED bars scattered willy-nilly throughout the R's face. Look closely at the edges of the R's open front end, however—you see how carefully the truck's bodywork is cut around the grille opening? Expect those lines to carry over to the production model, as well, along with the "BRONCO" lettering in the center of the grille and a bumper design that apes the F-150 Raptor-like the piece seen here.
3. Those Little Ridges Lining the Hood
The original Ford Bronco introduced in 1966 had these little peaks running the length of each front fender, and so their inclusion on the modern Bronco R racer is no coincidence. After all, the race truck's "body" is just that: A shell placed over its safety cage and structure to provide basic cover for the occupants and running gear. A little styling flourish such as this wouldn't be included if it weren't a preview of what's to come on the actual 2021 Bronco.
4: Taillight Shape
To repeat: Nonessential bodywork has been stripped away from the Bronco R in preparation for the hell it will experience in Mexico. Ford could have installed some basic LEDs on the R's tail to serve taillight duty, but instead bolted on these highly stylized shapes with red and white LED elements. Their shapes mimic the tapered trapezoid-shaped taillights on the original Bronco, and bear more than a passing resemblance to the modern Jeep Wrangler's taillights. That likely is no accident.
5. Rear Quarter Windows
We hate to keep circling back to Ford's image of the Bronco beneath a sheet, but we can see yet another resemblance between that truck and the Bronco R in the outline of its rear quarter windows. The openings' simple rectangular shape (check the line that wraps around the Ford and American flag logos and "2069" numbering in the image above) fits the roofline's shape, plain and simple; and again, Ford needn't have outlined rear windows on the Bronco R given how the truck technically has none. The production Bronco will, however, and you can bet they'll look like these.
6. The Frame
OK, the Bronco R's frame isn't so much a detail as a critical aspect of the truck. That said, the frame supporting the Bronco R is shared with the T2 architecture set to underpin the production Bronco next year. Obviously, Ford has beefed up that frame for Baja 1000 duty and added a safety cage, but the automaker insists that the R's basic suspension geometry and its frame are production-adjacent Bronco fare.
7. Its Bucking-Bronco Logo and Badge
Ford earlier this year confirmed the new Bronco's debut, at the same time showing off the same logo you see here. Of course, the Bronco logo Ford showed us previously lacked the Bronco R's spicy red-colored "R," but otherwise is exactly the same. You can expect to see the bucking bronco appear on the 2021 Bronco, which also will wear a similar "BRONCO" wordmark in its grille.