There are really only two issues with the Ford Ranger Raptor, chief of which is that it isn’t sold in the United States. The second, less consequential problem is the one we’d ceaselessly complain about if it were actually sold here: its lack of cylinders. Sure, a 2.0-liter twin-turbo diesel four-banger with 370 pound-feet of torque is neat, but it doesn’t have the same allure as the 450-horsepower, F-150 Raptor’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo Ecoboost V6. Mating that motor to a Ranger would be the stuff of dreams, and thankfully, it’s not a dream only enjoyable with your eyes closed, because a South African race shop has built that very truck.
Created by Neil Woolridge Motorsport for the newly FIA-sanctioned South African Cross Country Series, or SACCS, this Ford Ranger race truck takes advantage of new rules permitting turbocharged gasoline engines by updating from the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 used by its predecessor to the F-150 Raptor’s 3.5-liter engine. The exchange of cylinders for turbochargers will dismay V8 loyalists, many of whom are probably still reeling from the news that Toyota will kill off its V8s, though NWM hasn’t given up the V8’s primal grunt without reason.
Shedding two cylinders contributes to a 331-pound weight reduction over this truck’s V8 predecessor, and allows NWM to push the engine aft of the front axle, improving weight distribution. Losing cylinders, however, does not equate to losing power; as its boosted 3.5-liter V-6 produces more than 400 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, or substantially more than the outgoing Coyote V8 truck. This power goes through a World Rally Championship-spec six-speed sequential manual to all four wheels, each of which is kept in contact with the Earth by independent, fully adjustable suspension with two dampers per corner and 11 inches of suspension travel.
As if this Ranger weren’t already absurd enough, NWM has clad its Chromoly tube frame in a full carbon fiber body with gull-wing doors. Air conditioning keeps the cabin cool during long, desert-spanning races, which a 126.8-gallon fuel cell behind the seats gives this Ranger the range to finish. Come time to roll onto the podium, this Ranger’s Brembo brakes won’t be too toasted to stop it from rolling back off again, as they’re liquid-cooled.
Ford Performance speaks briefly of international customers in its release on the truck, so even though NWM builds these trucks in South Africa, there’s a good chance they’ll build one for anyone with enough cash and a privateer team. Finding a race class in America that’ll let you enter this beast might be tricky, though sand dunes to goof off in are another story.
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