By Todd Zuercher
Many automotive enthusiasts know of Vaughn Gittin Jr. His RTR Mustangs have been drifting throughout the world now for over a decade. Or perhaps you’ve seen him do things you never thought possible with a Bronco each year out front at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
But what you may not know is that Gittin is a long-time Bronco enthusiast and that his company, RTR Vehicles, has teamed up with Ford Motor Company to design and offer a suite of products for the 2021 vehicle.
Having ridden along with Gittin on a trail run Monday in Moab, I now know Fun-Haver, his apparel, skate, and accessories company, is not just a clever name. It’s a way of life for Vaughn, and he’s applied that credo to the RTR version of the new Bronco.
The RTR truck is a sharp-looking rig with Johnson Valley, California topography graphics on its rear quarters, hood, and windshield frame. They may remind you a bit of Ford’s Raptor graphics but also imply motion. And Monday, Gittin was always in motion –– and having fun! The graphics are a good visual tie-in for the 35” Nitto Ridge Grappler tires mounted to RTR Tech 6 wheels.
While the 35” tires help ensure the body stays out of the rocks, RTR’s rock sliders/steps add that extra bit of protection in case the boulders exceed the 4-door Badlands’ breakover angle at the most inopportune moment.
Behind the rear seat resides a Type S Blizzard Box fridge/freezer to keep those drinks and food cold –– because we all know that soggy sandwiches are not fun!
At the rear, we find what I think might be the most groundbreaking addition to this vehicle. Four-wheelers who run huge tires know that the dynamics of the mass of large tires and wheels, improperly addressed, can often wreak havoc on tailgates and rear quarter panels. Various solutions have been tried over the years, but the best one seems to be to take the load off the body panels and transfer at least a portion of it to the frame. AEV did this years ago with their tire carriers for Jeep Wranglers with great success, and RTR has followed suit with their Bronco tire carrier. The pivot for the tire carrier now attaches to the rear bumper and frame of the Bronco. A clever heim-jointed strut allows it to turn in concert with the tailgate when it’s opened and hold it tight against the body when the tailgate is closed. It’s a great design, and it’s obvious they’ve succeeded. I could discern very little “shake” to the assembly when I tried it, and Vaughn noted that they want to make just a few more tweaks to the shape before the production unit is released. FEA (finite element analysis) was used in the design, and it shows.
The design of the lightbar on top of the windshield is also clever –– allowing lights to be either mounted on top or along the front edge for a slightly lower profile look. The concept has five Project X lights mounted in the lower position –– a better spot if you’re going to encounter brush in your travels.
Gittin’s team also flexed their creative muscles with the grille of the truck –– using injection-molding to create a sharp-looking piece with additional added LED lighting inboard from the headlights along with the RTR badging. Three-dimensional printing for rapid prototyping of grille designs has allowed RTR to come up with three different offerings for the grille: the one currently shown on the concept; one with a thin LED light replacing the center bar; and a so-called “high-flow” Bronco grille with maximized openings for the best cooling. All the production grilles will be injection molded.
Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s desire to have fun in life wherever possible shines through in many ways in the upgrades to this Bronco. Not only is it extremely capable off road, but one can imagine the possibilities of top-down cruises, beach runs, and trips to the mountains with friends whenever they see this beautiful 2021 Bronco.