Ford Performance have just unveiled their all-new 3.5L EcoBoost Ranger built for the Ford Castrol Cross Country team. After being teased in February, this FIA-class Ford Ranger is ready to take on the race course later this year (maybe) in the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS). The truck was designed by Neil Woolridge Motorsport, and it aims to outclass the V8-powered racer that it replaces. The EcoBoost Ford Ranger will be the first vehicle to race under the FIA’s new regulations for 2020 that pertain to turbocharged vehicles.
We also can’t help but wonder if this Ford Ranger race truck has anything in common with the Ford Bronco prototype that competed (but couldn’t finish) the Baja 1000.
With some understandable slowdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, the EcoBoost Ranger is still left unfinished at Neil Woolridge Motorsport shop in Pietermaritzburg. While on the surface the truck looks pretty similar to the model that rolls off the line at Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant, that is about where the similarities stop. With a high-strength chromoly tube chassis and integrated roll cage, wider and more aggressive carbon bodywork than the outgoing racer, and a new independent rear suspension layout, the EcoBoost Ranger is quite the piece of kit.
While there is no denying that the outgoing 5.0L Mustang-derived V8 power plant is a great sounding motor, the EcoBoost that replaces it has had its fair share of motorsport experience. A version of the same 3.5L EcoBoost sat between the rear buttresses of the Le Mans winning Ford GT racer back in 2017. In Cross Country spec, the motor relies on fully programmable MOTEC electronic engine management, along with twin air filters with dual intercoolers. The motor is also able to be mid-mounted behind the front axle, something that wasn’t possible with two extra cylinders hanging out under the hood.
The Ecoboost Ranger also features some unique touches, such as a gullwing door setup and a massive 480-litre fuel cell produced by Aero Tec Laboratories. If that name sounds familiar, it is because Aero Tec is the same U.K. company that has supplied every Formula One team for the better part of three decades.
While the EcoBoost Ranger won’t be hitting the street anytime soon, it is fun to see Ford put the F-150’s engine into the little truck. We all have wondered what kind of muscle truck could come out of that scenario, but Neil Woolridge Motorsport and Ford have outdone themselves here.