Carmakers need to put every new model through a battery of tests, but checking whether a car can survive extreme heat is not normally part of the homologation process. Ford presumably obtained valuable data about the new 2021 Bronco’s heat resistance after two pre-production prototypes were trapped in a trailer that caught fire.
Posted by enthusiast forum Bronco6G, the grisly images show a pair of two-door SUVs being extracted from an enclosed trailer operated by a company named Reliable. The user who posted the photos took them at a truck stop in Greenville, Illinois, and he stressed that the blaze was not due to a mechanical problem with either Bronco. He theorized that the fire started because the trucker drove with either a flat tire or a sticking brake for too long.
It’s difficult to tell where the fire started, but it looks like the prototypes suffered more heat-related damage than burns. They’re covered in debris, and the trailer they were in got hot enough to melt several plastic parts, like the mirrors, the front fender flares, and the grille. Surprisingly, the tires and the hard top are mostly untouched.
There’s likely far more damage beneath the sheetmetal, because one of the photos shows strands of melted plastic hanging from the red Bronco’s frame. Odds are both of these prototypes will be written off, but it’s a relatively minor problem for Ford to have. Neither truck was on its way to a customer, deliveries aren’t scheduled to start until later in 2021, and manufacturers normally destroy prototypes at the end of the testing cycle.
Fire doesn’t discriminate between prototypes and rare, multi-million-dollar cars. Across the pond, a huge blaze recently destroyed a collection of over 230 vintage motorcycles and several classic cars, including a Porsche 959.
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