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2022 Ford Bronco Raptor: Is the blue oval giving us a sneak peak of what's to come with its new V8-powered desert racer?

The Ford Bronco DR is a custom-built off-road racer.

Ford has unveiled the wildest Bronco yet. It’s called the Bronco DR, which stands for Desert Racer, and while it’s been designed to tackle off-road racing events, it could also give us an idea what to expect when the Bronco Raptor arrives in 2022.

The Bronco DR is a limited edition that has been designed for competition use only, which ironically means it could stand a better chance of making it to Australia than the road-legal Bronco. It has been built to tackle events like the Baja 1000 off-road race in Mexico, which means it would make an appealing package for an Australian off-road racer to try and secure one to take on our premier desert race - The Finke.

However, what the Bronco DR really does is give us an idea of what to expect from the Bronco Raptor, and potentially even the next-generation Ranger Raptor - given the two models share the same basic underpinnings.

While the Bronco DR is powered by a 300kW Coyote 5.0-litre V8, unfortunately Ford’s engineers in the US have made it clear that no road-going Bronco will get eight-cylinders. Instead, expect both Raptor models to be powered by a turbocharged V6 engine.

Where the Bronco DR hints at the future of the Raptor is underneath, with some key features that could carry over to a production model. To create this Baja-ready Bronco, Ford Performance turned to its long-time partner, Multimatic - the Canadian engineering and motorsport firm that developed and builds the GT supercar for the blue oval.

The Bronco DR is fitted with Multimatic Positional Selective DSSV dampers, a special shock absorber that the company has developed and deployed not just in competition cars but several high-profile road cars. While the DSSV dampers can be found in Ferrari SF90 Stradale and Mercedes-AMG GT, an off-road tuned version lives underneath the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.

These dampers are highly-rated in the industry and it’s understood that HSV was investigating using them for a potential Ranger Raptor rivaling version of the Holden Colorado SportsCat.

This collaboration between Ford Performance and Multimatic suggests the Desert Racer project could be leading to the Bronco Raptor using the DSSV dampers. These could provide a major upgrade over the standard Bronco, which is already very capable. 

This leads to the question of what we could expect here in Australia with our own Raptor. While the Ford Australia-led Ranger Raptor project could continue to use its Fox-branded shocks on the new model, a switch to the Multimatic DSSV dampers could enhance its off-road capability even further, particularly in the face of increasing competition. Since the arrival of the Ranger Raptor, Nissan has launched the Navara Warrior, Volkswagen the Amarok W580 and GMSV has the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Trail Boss.

As for the Bronco DR, Ford is aiming to produce an initial batch of 50 examples, as complete ‘turn-key’ off-road racing cars. Given the popularity of off-road racing events like Baja in North America it’s likely those will sell out. Deliveries are due to begin by the end of 2022, which could allow owners to begin racing in next year’s edition of the Baja 1000; which typically runs in late November.

“This is a ground-up build, which is a bit unique in itself,” explained Mark Rushbrook, Ford Performance Motorsport global director. “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.”