Hinting at upcoming Bronco production model, Ford’sBronco R race prototype debuts in the desert to celebrate 50th anniversary of Rod Hall’s historic Baja 1000 win, an overall victory in a 4×4 that’s never been duplicated in 50 yearsIt was built for this, its engine roaring through the heat of the Mojave and its racing tires spraying desert sand. As the last grain settled, the vehicle that is all at once a tribute and a test and a tease, came in to focus.

It was no mirage. Bronco–in the form of a race-inspired Bronco R prototype–is back.As a tribute, it was appropriately parked along side the Bronco that Rod Hall and Larry Minor famously drove to an overall win 50 years ago at the 1969 Baja 1000–a victory that no other 4×4 has replicated. Featuring a race livery inspired by Hall’s winning vehicle, Bronco R passes the torch to off-road racer Shelby Hall, Rod’s granddaughter, who will drive it for portions of this year’s prestigious race in honor of her late grandfather.

As a test, the Bronco R will head back to the Baja Peninsula later this month to take on the near 1,000-mile grueling off-road course and challenge the production Bronco’s powertrain and architecture. And as a tease, the Bronco R–developed by Ford Performance in collaboration with builder Geiser Bros Design and Development and Baja 1000 Trophy Truck champion Cameron Steele–drops heritage-inspired design and proportion hints of what enthusiasts can expect to see when the future Bronco makes its world premiere next spring “Bronco’s win at Baja in 1969 was epic, something that even after 50 years has not been repeated,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development and purchasing officer. “Rugged endurance racing is such a big part of Bronco heritage. The Baja 1000 gives us not only the perfect setting to honor Rod Hall’s win, it also provides an authentic test bed to demonstrate our upcoming Bronco’s desert racing capability and durability

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