A drag race between a 1986 Ford Bronco and a 1996 Dodge Viper GTS usually wouldn’t make sense. However, this SUV has extensive powertrain modifications that create a competitive challenge between the two very different vehicles.
The Bronco looks stock on the outside, but there’s a big secret under the hood. It packs a 444-cubic-inch (7.28-liter) V8 with a pair of 61-millimeter turbos to boost the big engine. The powerplant is running modified cylinder heads and a new camshaft. There’s also a Holley electronic fuel injection system.
The engine makes around 550 horsepower and 850 pound-feet of torque on the dyno. It’s running even more boost now, so the builder estimates the current output is about 669 hp and 1,069 lb-ft.
The cabin is largely stock except for the digital dashboard. It has old-school LCD readouts that fit the rest of the SUV’s 1980s aesthetic.
The Bronco rides on mud-terrain tires, which are far from ideal for drag racing. They just don’t have the same amount of grip as drag-specific rubber.
The Ford is going up against a Viper GTS that’s largely stock. The owner describes it as ratty because of cutting holes in the hood and side sills. There are new wheels and tires. The car also has exhaust headers that go into a 3.0-inch-diameter titanium exhaust.
The first race is a quarter-mile. The run starts close, but the distance lets the Viper stretch its legs. The result is that the Dodge beats the Ford by six car lengths.
The following two races cut the distance to 500 feet, reducing the Viper’s advantage. Still, the Dodge manages to win, but only by a nose. You can only see the advantage from the top-down view.
However, things change for the final race. It’s still a 500-foot run, but the Bronco driver is figuring out how to launch the SUV. He manages to win this time.
While the Viper wins two of the races, the Bronco is the real star of this show. It’s not surprising to see the sports coupe accelerate quickly, but you wouldn’t expect this type of performance from a Ford SUV.