WATCH: XR8 to Ranger Raptor - Ford's incredible high-performance bakkies

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.

Ford Ranger Raptor arrives in SA – All you need to know about this epic performance bakkie

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)

lightning pick up
                                                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)


                                                 Image: Supplied

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)

ford falcon
                                                          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)


                                                                       Image: Supplied

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?

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