The Australian engineering expertise that put the punch into Nissan’s Warrior models has now driven an upscale revival of the classic Ford Bronco in the USA.

    Premcar Engineering in Melbourne was responsible for all the undercover development and testing of a new model for Gateway Bronco, described as “a specialist in Ford Bronco restorations, custom builds and sales” and based in Hamel in Michigan.

    The result is called the LUXE-GT, which is priced from $US400,000 ($A623,000) and can top $US662,000 ($1.03 million).

    Gateway Bronco said it has invested four years and millions of dollars to create “the best vintage Ford Bronco on the planet”.

    The first car has just been unveiled in California at the annual Monterey Car Week during an event called The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, which serves as the showground for a range of upscale global reveals each year.

    Gateway Bronco’s vehicles are all based on the classic Ford Bronco from the 1970s, but the vintage styling covers fully modern running gear and safety equipment.

    The LUXE-GT is its new flagship and is powered by a 343kW version of Ford’s 5.0-litre Coyote V8 engine, with a 10-speed automatic gearbox and two-stage shift-on-the-fly all-wheel drive system.

    Its safety package includes anti-skid brakes, electronic stability control and traction control.

    The retro styling of the Bronco hides a reinforced body with a lower centre of gravity, with the Premcar-developed ladder chassis – with a wheelbase of 2350 millimetres, front track of 1623 millimetres and rear track of 1630 millimetres – claimed to be 70 per cent stiffer than other replacement frames in the USA.

    It also has “cutting edge crush zones front and rear” as Gateway Bronco claims a total of 10 patents for the vehicle.

    The company only intends to build 25 cars and year and the specification includes air-conditioning, electric windows, soft-close doors and tailgate, denim fabric with leather inserts, push-button start, 18-inch sport wheels with BF Goodrich K02 tyres, a Focal Point sound system and LED lights.

    “The Premcar team has developed this high-performance platform to new-car standards using the same processes we apply when we develop new vehicles for global automakers. More than a re-imagined classic, it’s a new car,” said Bernie Quinn, director of Premcar Engineering.

    Development of the Luxe-GT was done in secrecy in Australia under the codename Pegasus, taking more than two years.

    The key to the program was a specially developed, and patented, chassis.

    It’s claimed to provide performance to match or better “the world’s leading elite sport SUVs” with “incredible performance, safety and driving enjoyment”.

    Described by Gateway Bronco as a “Skunk Works facility in Melbourne”, Premcar has its original roots in Ford Performance Vehicles and has recently developed Warrior versions of the Navara and Patrol for Nissan Australia.

    “The Premcar team has achieved remarkable results with this new chassis and suspension system. They’ve helped us re-position our classic-style LUXE-GT Bronco series into a new market realm. This is now a new car with classic style, not a classic car with new style,” said Seth Burgett, Gateway Bronco’s CEO and president.

    He highlighted the world-class engineering expertise, equivalent to anything at a major carmaker, that went into the development program.

    The program began when Gateway Bronco set its performance and safety targets for the LUXE-GT.

    Premcar then worked through extensive CAD (computer-aided design) and FEA (finite element analysis) computer work before construction on a series of prototypes.

    All engineering work was done at Premcar’s base in Melbourne before an extensive program include harsh conditions in the outback.

    The Premcar-developed ladder-frame chassis used for the LUXE-GT will be made in Detroit by the company’s global engineering partner, RLE International, before the vehicles are assembled at Gateway Bronco in Illinois.

    Gateway Bronco has been operating for seven years and claims to be the highest-quality builder in the vintage Bronco arena. It has earned an official license from the Ford Motor Company and set a record for Bronco pricing with a vehicle that sold for $US650,000 ($A1.01 million).

    “The idea for the new LUXE-GT was conceived during a camping trip in Glacier National Park in Montana,” said Burgett.

    “Premcar developed a prototype we field tested across the Australian outback at 120 miles-per-hour (193km/h) over all types of punishing conditions. Now the vehicle is ready to take on the world.”

    Paul Gover

    Paul Gover is one of the most experienced and respected motoring journalists in Australia. After more than 40 years on the automotive beat there is nothing he has not done, yet he still brings the enthusiasm of a rookie. He has worked in print, digital, radio, television and for every major publisher in the country. He is also a national motor racing champion and once co-drove with Peter Brock at Bathurst.

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