The '10 Ford F-150 Raptor is the most highly anticipated off-road vehicle of the year. Over the last 12 months, bits and pieces of its story have leaked out on the Internet. Reports of the program's being canceled and revived have only added to the truck's mystique. Even the project's code name, Raptor, has set a precedent. It's the first time a vehicle's code name became the actual brand name! Secretly the F-150 Raptor program has been in development for more than two years. Prototype trucks, known as mules, were blasting around the southwestern deserts and Michigan's Upper Peninsula for months before anyone in the media caught on. While other magazines and online speculators have fed the Raptor fire with rumors, guesses, and flat-out error, Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road is the only source poised to give you the full story, right from the people who made this truck into a reality. We're also the only ones that were on hand to witness the final 1,000-mile durability test of the upcoming 5.4L Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Check it out. For the last two years Ford's SVT division (the guys who brought us the Ford GT and the 500hp Mustang GT500) has been secretly developing a high-performance pickup based on the new F-150. However, instead of screwing together another lowered Lightning street truck, SVT built a four-wheel-drive, Baja-ready off-road warrior. Code name: Raptor.For the last two years Ford's SVT division (the guys who brought us the Ford GT and the 50 In addition to Ford's standard durability tests, SVT ran the Raptor through 1,000 miles of off-road testing in 62.5-mile laps. Each lap subjected the truck to high-speed dirt roads, washboard trails, muddy riverbeds, and loose sand dunes, requiring four-wheel drive and engaging the rear locker. Each driver pushed the truck to its top speed (95 mph) and pounded the suspension over whoops and rocks from full compression to full extension.In addition to Ford's standard durability tests, SVT ran the Raptor through 1,000 miles of After every 62.5-mile lap the Raptor was subjected to a tabletop test. Here the Raptor raced up a 16-degree jump at 52 mph and was launched into the air for 50-60 feet. When the truck landed, the suspension compressed and then rebounded as the truck dropped off a 2-foot-tall dirt wall. It was a wild test to watch, and it left us wondering what other 6,000-pound production pickup could handle this.After every 62.5-mile lap the Raptor was subjected to a tabletop test. Here the Raptor rac The Raptor durability test was conducted by SVT's Eric Zinkosky (second from left) and supported by Brad Lammers, Eddie Khan, Tim Smith, Matt Johnson, Ross McNab from Fox Racing Shox, Gene Martindale, Tad Ohtake, Mario Dicicco from Roush, Bill Gachnik in the khaki shirt and pants from Pacific Contract Services, and Keith Healy from Roush, who was standing just off to the right of the camera.The Raptor durability test was conducted by SVT's Eric Zinkosky (second from left) and sup We met up with the group when they were roughly 640 miles into the test. Zinkosky invited us to ride with him in the Raptor prototype they called Durability. For this test the Raptor was outfitted with a six-point rollcage, Simpson five-point safety harnesses, a Lowrance 9200c GPS, and a PCI intercom and race radio that allowed the driver and navigator to talk with the support crews.We met up with the group when they were roughly 640 miles into the test. Zinkosky invited Many of Zinkosky's SVT members have extensive experience driving everything from dirt bikes to road-racing Mustangs. When he signed onto the Raptor program, vehicle engineer Gene Martindale's resume included the Ford GT supercar and the LeMans-dominating Dodge Viper when he worked at Chrysler. Riding shotgun with Martindale was Ross McNab, senior project engineer for Fox Racing Shox, who was monitoring the Raptor's shock temperatures with a dash-mounted display.Many of Zinkosky's SVT members have extensive experience driving everything from dirt bike 1 | 2 | » | View Full Article Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!