With Ranger Raptor finally in South Africa, it’s time for a history lesson on Ford’s high-performance bakkies.
The launch of Ford’s Ranger Raptor this month, will revolutionise the South African bakkie market. For the first time, local bakkie enthusiasts will have option on a true off-road racing specification bakkie – one that is completely road legal and can be insured.
Ranger Raptor is merely the latest in a lineage of Ford high-performance bakkies.
To understand how we got to the locally built Ranger Raptor in 2019, we list some of the Dearborn bakkie legends.
Ford F-150 Lightning (1993)Image: Supplied
From nowhere Ford launched its original F-150 Lightning and it was immediately met with overwhelming customer approval.
The handsome ninth-generation F-150 shape was subtly enhanced, but what set this bakkie apart, was its engine. Under the bonnet was a 5.8-litre V8, which made 176kW. Granted, that might not be much by 2019 standards but back in 1993 it was plenty of power for a mid-sized bakkie.
Ford F-150 Lightning second-gen (1999)
The Lighting 2.0 had even more presence, thanks to custom bumpers, grilles and skirts fitted to the tenth-generation F-150. Ford’s engineers also added a supercharger, which boosted this Lightning's 5.4-litre V8 to 280kW and 610Nm.
As with the first-generation Lighting bakkie, all the standard F-150 gearbox options were too weak, which necessitated Ford to fit the much larger F-350 bakkie’s more robust four-speed automatic. To ensure its coped with the additional power, these supercharged F-150 Lightnings also featured much larger stabilizer bars and high-volume shock absorbers.
Ford Falcon XR8 (2008)Image: Supplied
The thunder from Down Under. Ford’s Australian subsidiary was responsible for this loadbin configured madness. Low, long and powered by a 5.4-litre V8, the Falcon XR8 was a mad rear-wheel drive two-seater performance car capable of moving a lot of braai wood or furniture.
Engines were hand-built by Ford Performance Vehicle technicians in Australia and the large-capacity V8 powered up to 290kW.
These Falcon XR8 single-cab bakkies were never intended as gravel travellers or suited to robust utility applications, something which became plainly obvious when you looked at the wheel and tyre combination: 19-inch rims rolling 245/35 profile tyres. The calibre of stuff you expect on a Porsche Cayman, not a bakkie that needs to haul 1t.
Ford F-150 Raptor (2010)Image: Supplied
The Raptor legend sources from this bakkie, which brought true Baja 1000 off-road ability and stadium truck jumping survivability to a double-cab that could be bought from your local Ford dealer (if you live in America). A notable styling feature distinguished the Raptor from all other F-150 bakkies, as it did not feature a traditional Ford roundel on the grille, but instead had the brand name spelled across the entire width of the vehicle’s engine air-intake.
Custom off-road racing suspension from Californian specialist, Fox, ensured that the original Raptor established an awesome and deserved reputation for high-speed, all-terrain ability. With a 6.2-litre V8, good for 306kW, the original Raptor had no rival.
Ford F-150 Raptor second-gen (2014)
After four years of outstanding demand and customer satisfaction, few imagined that Ford could improve upon its F-150 Raptor formula. But they were wrong. In 2014 Ford revealed an updated version of the Raptor, with a smaller engine which makes more power.
Ford replaced the Raptor’s 6.2-litre V8 with a 3.5-litre turbocharged V6, which at 335kW, makes more power than the larger V8 and is lighter. And what is the advantage of a having a lighter engine above the latest Raptor’s front axle? Well, makes it that much easier to get airborne, doesn’t it?