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Comprehending the Ford Raptor: Five blasts from the past

2018-07-25 16:00

Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post

The Ford Ranger Raptor is due for release in South Africa soon and will be looking to rattle the establishment, as well as what we've come to know of fast bakkies.

Though it may be instantly recognisable as a Ranger, what lurks beneath all the metal is a bakkie that's been reworked to deliver stellar performance whilst at the same time managing to fly.

Ford's next chapter

Yip, that's right. The Ranger Raptor is lighter, more powerful, and has been specifically tuned to handle any and all airborne endeavours.

READ: Can four play six? Can the Ford Ranger Raptor hold its own against its V6 rivals?

For the uninitiated, this is all new and exciting but for those who have had blue blood in their petrol head veins before the iPhone was launched, Ford’s latest high-performance bakkie is but another chapter.

There is a terrifically rich history in building bakkies which are quick enough to get your emergency braai wood to where it needs to be in less time than any other. To better understand how the new Ranger Raptor came into being, we’ve listed a history of Ford’s fastest bakkies below. 

Ranchero (1977)

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Long, low and definitely not slow. The Ranchero wasn’t that great for ranching cattle, but it was amazingly good at getting ranchers from farm to town in the shortest possible time - when required. 

Based on Ford’s large station wagons of the time, you could get them with mighty big engines. And when we say big, we mean gargantuan, as in 7.5-litre V8s. They were even briefly produced locally, at Ford’s Port Elizabeth facility. 

F-150 Lightning (1993)

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In the early 1990s, Ford decided to do something rather unusual and build a bakkie which could lap racing circuits at a pace not much slower than its Mustang muscle car. The result was this first F-150 Lightning. 

Not much was altered with regards to the F-150’s classic bakkie proportions, but behind that imposing grille was a 5.8-litre V8, cranking out 180kW and 460Nm. Those numbers might not sound like much in 2018, but back in 1993, they were plenty – and good enough for 0-100km/h in 7 seconds.

Didn’t handle too tragically around corners either and with special rubber inserts added to the rear-axle’s leaf springs, wheel-hop during full-throttle acceleration was marginally contained. 

F-150 SVT Lightning (1999)

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Ford’s second-generation F-150 lightning was a pre-millennial bakkie of huge performance, released in 1999. It featured a great many more trick aero and styling bits than the 1993 Lightning's and although the V8 engine was slightly smaller, at 5.4-litres, it now benefitted from a crank-driven boost in the form of an Eaton supercharger. That blower boosted 283kW and 610Nm from the V8, which was sufficient to bother most e39 M5s of the day. 

Ford Falcon XR8 (2008)

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South Africans require no introduction to the special resonance of an ‘XR8’ badge on any fast Ford. We were, after all, the market mad enough to accept those XR8 Sierras in the mid-1980s.

Bless our southern hemisphere petrolhead cousins in Australia, for they continued this tradition and peaked it with the 2008 Falcon XR8 bakkie. 

Long and low like the Rancheros of old, the Falcon was clearly evolved from its sedan namesake. But it could haul a lot more stuff in its loadbed than you ever could in a boot. Quick too, with a 5.4-litre atmospheric V8, which converted unleaded fuel to 290kW/520Nm.

If you were good with the six-speed manual transmission, it would run the 0-100km/h benchmark in six seconds dead. Didn’t have any stability control, though. Hence many ended-up the wrong way around, or upside down, in ditches all over Australia. 

Ford F-150 SVT Raptor (2011)

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The original first-generation Raptor and a bakkie which established the legend. Generally misunderstood due to its amazing off-road racer styling, the secret to Raptor was all the custom engineering beneath its menacing appearance.

Raptor was a road-legal version of Ford’s Baja 1000 off-road racing bakkies and featured similar long-travel Fox suspension, the kind of stuff you ordinarily can’t buy – even if you have a lot of bitcoin and ask nicely. 

Beyond the amazing suspension technology, which enabled it to clear rough terrain at speeds which would break any other bakkie, it was Raptor F-150’s 6.2-litre engine which won over most pundits.

Like all good racing engines, it was naturally-aspirated, and at 302kW, it was certainly not short on power. That you could have it paired to a six-speed automatic and legally registered for road use, was nothing short of amazing.

Read more on:    ford  |  cape town  |  bakkie  |  new vehicles  |  ranger

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