The global Ford Ranger is the slightly-smaller, built-in-Thailand cousin to the Ford F-150, and it’s sold in far more countries than America’s best-selling full-size pickup. Ford adamantly refuses to bring the global Ranger stateside, but it is holding a kickass off-road contest that begins today in western Namibia, pitting 20 contestants from across Africa against each other, and a huge, unforgiving desert.
The two winners will get their own Odyssey Ranger for a year, and about 5,000 Rand (about $400) worth of free fuel every month. Hailing from South Africa, the Ivory Coast, Angola, Mozambique, and Nigeria, the twenty will attempt to cross the inhospitable Namib desert. Stretching for more than 1,200 miles along the western coast Namibia, there is little in the way of life or help in this desolate land.
The race begins today in the shadow of the Spitzkoppe, a group of granite peaks as devoid of life as the surrounding desert (as an aside, the opening sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey was filmed here). Each finalist will pilot a jacked-up, fully specced Odyssey Ranger, which also happens to be their grand prize, as well as a tanker truck’s worth of free fuel. The global Ford Ranger uses one of two turbodiesel engines to provide up to 347 lb-ft of torque in the case of the larger 3.2 liter I5. Alas, we’ll almost certainly never see the Ranger here in America, although Ford is starting to sneak the Duratorq diesels in as an option on its new Transit work vans.
The Ranger Odyssey begins today and concludes 12 days from now on August 4th, as we can only look on and watch with envy. If you want to tease yourself even more, you can follow along at the Odyssey Ranger homepage and watch as the contestants make their way towards victory or defeat.