Ever since we broke the news on the F-150 Raptor program on January 28th, spy photographers at Brenda Priddy & Company have been busily capturing shots of the Raptor development mules in bulk, much to the chagrin of our (hopefully still) friends at Ford. Its hard to deny the Loch Ness Monster when Ford engineers have been taking ‘ol Nessie out for a spin around chilly Dearborn in broad daylight.
After looking over the most recent spy shots and conferring with my friend Mike Levine from www.pickuptruck.com, we have more information to share this afternoon that makes us think our educated guesses were actually right on the money (and might explain why the original blog gained so much notoriety in the industry so fast). I have been researching this project for nearly two years, and have come across a lot of meaningless pieces in that time, things that only make sense when strung together to make a bigger picture. I originally heard about the Raptor shortly after the original program was cancelled. While our information seems accurate and credible, most of it came from pure conjecture and speculation from lots of bits and pieces, and not from within the walls of Ford as some might believe.
What I suggested in my Jan 28 blog were the following, plus why we think we are right:
Speculation #1 – “…lower and wider…”
True or False: TRUE, mostly. From friends who have seen the truck testing in the desert, we knew this to be true. Recent spy photos also prove wider is a fact, but the truck doesn’t appear any lower in spy photos.
Speculation #2 – “…uses reservoir shocks…”
True or False: TRUE. Although we haven’t seen the suspension up close, we know it was modeled off of the JD Fab kit, first seen in our sister magazine Petersen's 4Wheel & Off Road, and that the JD Fab/Ford development mule has been seen driving around Dearborn undisguised. Our best bet says TRUE. Adding fuel to the fire, we know that the JD Fab kit uses Bilstein coilovers w/Eibach shocks. It is possible Ford has switched to Fox on the latest mules, but until we have suspension images, we'll have to keep guessing.
Speculation #3 – “…tires in the 33-35-inch range…”
True or False: TRUE. The most recent shots of the engineering mules show them wearing LT325/70R17 Toyo Open Country A/Ts, which work out to be the metric equivalent to 35x12.5R17s.
Speculation #4 – “…selectable locker…”
True or False: TRUE, maybe. We know Ford is offering a selectable electronic locker on the 2009 F-150, however we think the Raptor might use a helical style limited slip differential to better distribute power, possibly even in the front axle. While a locker is great in the dirt, the benefits of a helical limited slip, such as a Torsen or TruTrac are available all the time. Whatever it works out to be, the Raptor won’t be coming to the party with open differentials.
Speculation #5 - “…will feature unique styling with bulged fenders…”
True or False: TRUE. The one thing that gives the engineering mule(s) away are the fender bulges in the camouflage.
Speculation #6 – “…will probably will use the upcoming Boss V-8, possibly an EcoBoost turbocharged variant…”
True or False: TRUE, probably. While it has been well documented that Ford planned to replace the aging Modular/Triton engine family with a new engine family known as Hurricane, the program was cancelled a couple years ago. When it was resurrected under new management, Hurricane was thought to invoke images of Katrina, and was subsequently renamed “BOSS”, still with a 6.2L V-8 as the family patriarch. With everything coming out of Ford promoting the new TwinForce cum EcoBoost engines, it is only natural to assume the high horsepower Raptor (we gleaned this from internet chatter from SVT Lightning enthusiast groups, who thought this engine would be the basis of the next F-150 Lightning) will use the new Boss engine family and EcoBoost technology together. Adding fuel to our speculation is a “Premium Only Fuel” (note: does not say "Diesel") placard seen on the dash of the Raptor prototypes, along with heat extraction vents in the cammo on the hood of the mules and what appears to be a larger opening in the bumper – possibly for intercoolers? Also, the dual exhaust on the mules doesn’t appear big enough to be the business end of the upcoming 4.4L diesel V-8. Just as Toyota can tune its Hybrid Synergy Drive for economy or performance, we feel Ford will do the same with EcoBoost.
So what do you think? Are we right on the money, or are we off base? Check out the photos over at www.pickuptruck.com and let us know what you think.
--Sean P. Holman
Tech Editor – Four Wheeler Magazine