Before the Ranger Raptor, there was only one known Raptor in Ford’s lineup – the F-150 Raptor. The history of the blue oval brand’s high-performance off-road truck traces back 11 years ago to the 2008 Speed Equipment Manufacturing Association (SEMA) Show. The introduction of the Raptor in 2008 was due to Ford’s plan of entering the Mexican off-road race known as the Baja 1000. As a result, Ford ended up building a truck that could handle the desert as well as the paved roads in the city.
There’s no denying that the Baja 1000 heavily influenced the early development of the Raptor. As a matter of fact, Ford equipped the second-generation Raptor with a special driving mode named after it. But beyond the truck’s driving modes, the engineering and architecture fused to create the Raptor is found deep within its chassis and suspension. With the Baja 1000 in the background, Ford and SVT worked extensively to give birth to one of the most powerful off-road trucks that could tackle any kind of terrain.
The relationship between SVT and the Raptor
There is confusion when it comes to Raptor’s nomenclature, which is mainly because of the word SVT attached to it. The reason why Ford used to name the Raptor as F-150 SVT Raptor is because the truck was developed by the Special Vehicle Team (SVT)—Ford’s special unit dedicated to the development of the company’s highest-performance vehicles. This means SVT owns a portion of the credit for the Raptor’s success. SVT has worked on a long list of Ford vehicles, including the Lightning, Cobra, GT, and Shelby GT500.
Meet the SVT Raptor: Ford’s most powerful truck
The launch of the SVT Raptor at the 2008 SEMA Show garnered hype from enthusiasts and motoring journalists alike. It wasn’t long before the SEMA-debuted truck entered the showroom in late 2009, overwhelming Ford with sales surpassing its prediction. It carried a set of off-road bumpers, blacked-out fenders, and a towering stance, which set it apart from the F-150’s. The first-generation SVT Raptor was initially available in SuperCab body only with a 5.4L V8 engine producing 310 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque. It came with a mill option of 6.2L V8 from the F-150 SuperCrew that’s capable of 411 hp and 434 ft-lb of torque. Ford’s choice of transmission for the SVT Raptor was a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The first-generation Raptor was marketed as a true dedicated off-roader with Baja tuning as its main strength. This marketing campaign was supported by the SVT Raptor’s features like the Fox Racing internal bypass shock absorbers, 35-inch BFGoodrich All Terrain tires, a 4.10:1 rear locking differential, among others. What amplified the hype even more was the announcement from Ford that the truck was officially joining the Baja 1000. The truck that competed in the race has the ‘Raptor R’ moniker, equipped with custom tuned reservoir shocks that gave it 11 inches of front suspension travel and 12 inches in the rear. In addition, the Raptor R’s Off Road Mode enables the driver to fully switch the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and AdvanceTrac RSC (stability control feature) off.
In 2011, Ford scrapped the Raptor’s smaller engine and only retained the 6.2L V8. The 2011 SVT Raptor also saw major changes like the addition of the 4-door SuperCrew as a base body, as well as a new color option named Ingot Silver Metallic. Meanwhile, Ford discarded the open differential of the previous Raptor and equipped the 2012 model with Torsen helical gear limited slip differential instead. Following the success of the F1-50 Raptor, Shelby and Hennessey Special Vehicles division built even more powerful special editions of their F-150 Raptor trucks, such as the Shelby Raptor with distinct racing stripes and the SUV version named the Hennessey VelociRaptor.
Continuing the legacy: the second-generation F-150 Raptor
Ford decided to make some adjustments to the second-generation Raptor’s nomenclature by dropping the SVT. Despite missing the prefix, the second-generation Raptor (based on the 13th-generation F-150) was able to keep the legacy alive by finishing third at the 2016 Baja 1000, under the Full Stock class division. Not only did it manage to cross the checkered flag before the standard 36-hour allotment time, it also drove 400 miles back to Foutz’s headquarters in Arizona right after the event. The result of this showoff caused inflated demand for the 2017 Raptor, which eventually pushed Ford to increase its production.
The latest iteration of the Raptor pays tribute to its original roots. For the first time in the Raptor’s history, the high-performance truck now has the Baja driving mode. Simply put, the Baja Mode allows the truck to easily adapt to desert conditions by automatically controlling and improving the truck’s throttle response, traction control, and four-wheel drive (4WD) system. The now 10-speed automatic transmission also holds gears longer and allows quicker shifts to attain the optimum performance of the new 3.5L twin-turbo EcoBoost V6. As a result, the truck can effortlessly glide through sandy and harsh terrains at extremely high speeds.
Despite having a smaller engine, the current Raptor is capable of 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. Not only is it more powerful, the new engine setup is also far lighter than the former V8. This complements the new aluminum body construction on the second-generation model, making the second-generation Raptor significantly lighter than the previous iteration. What makes this Raptor model more dynamic is the presence of the Sport Mode, specially designed for the road. In total, there are six driving modes in the latest Raptor: Normal, Sport, Weather, Mud/Sand, Rock Crawl and Baja.