We recently discussed Ford bringing a V8-powered sixth-generation Bronco to SEMA 2023. However, now that the Las Vegas custom car show has kicked off, we get to enjoy a second effort of the sort, namely a new Bronco packing the supercharged 5.2L Predator V8 from the GT500.
While Ford itself isn’t offering the Bronco with a V8—not even for the mighty Bronco Raptor—you’re probably wondering why none of the aftermarket developers that have promised V8 swaps for the current 2021+ Bronco have delivered on their promises yet.
The problem with V8-swapping the Bronco involves the electronics getting in the way. Even now with the SUV in its third year of production, only Ford knows how to get all the modules of the car to work together.
In other words, changing the engine on a new Bronco would either mean rewiring the entire vehicle, which would take an absurd amount of work, or giving up on the modern features that set the contemporary Bronco apart from its predecessors (e.g., intelligent AWD).
And, for SEMA 2023, Ford has allowed Fun-Haver Off-Road to come up with the Bronco Baja Runner, which borrows a few parts from the showroom Bronco and throws in a Predator V8 crate engine that’s been pushed past 1,000 hp.
The crate engine, which debuted on the now-retired S550 Mustang Shelby GT500 and is also offered on the 2023+ F-150 Raptor R, normally makes 760 hp, but here it packs a Whipple 3.8L supercharger to make 1,000 hp on pump gas and around 1,200 hp on E85.
Who is Fun-Haver Off-Road?
The Bronco Baja Runner is a one-off described as a luxury pre-runner thanks to features like a well-finished carbon fiber dash or leather-clad bucket seats. Pre-runners are usually more spartan since racers use them to cover the pre-race runs at off-road courses.
The (once again, few) Bronco factory parts seen here—like bits of the cabin—come from #55, a Cyber Orange pre-production marketing example of the SUV that had no VIN and was thus saved from the crusher.
Now, Fun-Haver Off-Road, the duo behind the build, is comprised of 2-time King of the Hammers winner and 5-time Ultra4 Racing Champion Loren Healy, and 3-time Ultra4 Racing Champion, 2-time Formula Drift Champion Vaughn Gittin Jr, which explains how the company had access to these resources.
How the Bronco got its V8 swap as far as electronics and wiring are concerned
Much of this project is borrowed from the Ultra4 Bronco race trucks the two drivers used to enrich their trophy cabinets. And some of the fabrication required to make it all happen came from Kibbetech Off-Road, such as the billet trailing arms.
More importantly for the V8 Bronco point, the supercharged 5.2L Predator V8 in the Bronco Baja Runner mixes the Holley EFI interface with the engine’s Ford Performance power kit. The electronics and wiring were handled by Josh West and Matt Taylor at FTA Inc., while getting the PDM and PDU to work was covered by Adam Brown, with HP Tuners handling the programming for the dyno.
Nicknamed El Bandito, the Predator V8-powered Bronco features Fox 2.5 coilovers with 3.5/4-inch bypasses, while its suspension travel sits at 20 inches up front and 26 inches at the rear.
The 20-inch beadlock wheels are shod in 42-inch Nitto Trail Grappler tires. And while Loren Healy and Vaughn Gittin Jr will stay true to the build’s Bronco Baja Runner name by taking this to the 2023 Baja 1000 (November 13-18) for entertainment purposes, you can check it out slaying some tarmac at SEMA in the Instagram clip below. After all, the handbrake is there for a reason.
So while building a 2021+ Bronco with a V8 remains a dream for 99.99% of the world, this SEMA release is at least here to fuel our dreams of Ford giving us access to the tech as the Bronco moves further into its life cycle. For one, the Blue Oval—as other US carmakers—seems determined to integrate more activities that used to be reserved for the aftermarket. And the 800 hp supercharger kit for the 2024 Mustang, which also debuted at SEMA, is an example as good as any. So why not a—more or less official—V8 swap kit for the sixth-gen Bronco?