Ford uses SEMA to heighten anticipation of new Bronco

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Ford hasn't revealed its new Bronco, but says this Bronco R prototype is inspired by the new SUV and will make its competitive debut this fall in the Baja 1000 | Ford photo

Ford has yet to unveil its next-generation Bronco, but it sure teased the daylights out of anticipation for the vehicle during the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. 

Just before the show opened this past week, Ford did a photo shoot that celebrated the 50th anniversary of Rod Hall and Larry Minor’s historic Baja 1000 overall victory and debuted the new Bronco R prototype that will compete later in November in the 2019 Baja 1000 in Mexico, with Hall’s granddaughter, Shelby Hall, as its driver.

“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,” Ford said in revealing the racing version.

Broncos old and newly inspired run together on the desert near Las Vegas | Ford photo

Next spring? Seems like we’ve already been waiting several years for the new SUV. Perhaps to reward our patience, Ford offered a display outdoors in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center of historic Bronco racers and as the centerpiece of its huge indoor gallery in Central Hall, it showcased a 1968 Bronco just restored for Jay Leno’s car collection.

On the eve of the taping of Leno’s final Tonight Show gig, another late-night (actually, Late Late Night) host, Craig Ferguson, from CBS had a decrepit ’68 Bronco parked in Leno’s reserved spot at NBC’s Burbank studio. In anticipation of the new-generation SUV, Ford Performance, female-owned LGE-CTS Motorsports and the SEMA Garage have restored that Bronco and presented it to Leno at Ford’s SEMA news conference.

What Leno now has is perhaps the ultimate Bronco resto-mod. While it looks pretty stock and wonderfully vintage, it has a Kincer Chassis, the 5.2-liter supercharged V8 from the new Shelby GT500, Tremec 5-speed transmission, Fox race-series coil-over shocks, onboard air compressors, customized interior, is painted in a color called ”Tonight Blue,” and features some 3D-printed components, such as the grille insert.

Jay Leno’s pesto-mod Bronco is powered by the supercharged V8 from the new Shelby GT500 Mustang | Larry Edsall photo

Leno’s wasn’t the only vintage Bronco on display at the SEMA Show, where the degree of anticipation for the next-gen model was obvious.

Ford further whetted that anticipation with its new Bronco R and the display outside of a group of historic Bronco racing machines, including the Baja 1000-winning 1968 Rod Hall/Larry Minor and Bill Stroppe’s famed “Big Oly.” 

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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