Ford is secretly readying a high-performance Ranger Raptor super ute complete with V8 power.
The brand that sells more 4x4 utes than any other is gearing up to shift the goalposts of load-lugging performance by replacing the four-cylinder diesel engine fitted to the Ford Ranger Raptor with a Ford Mustang-spec 5.0-litre V8.
Rather than a global project, the top-secret V8 Raptor project has been sanctioned by Ford Australia and will be the result of a local engineering effort.
But instead of utilising the 1000-strong local workforce that helped create the T6 architecture that underpins the Ranger and Everest, the project is being farmed out to an external engineering firm.
The latest in a growing list of low volume local engineering solutions – which include the upcoming Mustang R-Spec created by Herrod Performance and just-released Nissan Navara Warrior by Premcar – will adhere to OEM durability and safety requirements and be sold through Ford dealers will full five-year warranty protection.
Can’t wait for the end of the year for a V8 performance ute? Here’s how you can get one today.
Behind the scenes, there’s an elaborate process to turn regular Ranger Raptors into roaring V8 performance machines.
The donor Raptors will arrive in Australia with diesel propulsion and will then undergo an engine transplant as part of extensive performance upgrades.
Key to the transformation into a Raptor V8 is Ford’s Coyote V8, the engine that is the heart of the Mustang GT.
Read next: Learning how to drift a Ford Ranger Raptor
The 5038cc, direct injection, dual overhead cam V8 was upgraded in 2018 to produce 339kW and 556Nm – more than the final 6.2-litre V8 in the Holden Commodore SS (304kW).
While exact outputs for the Raptor tune are yet to be confirmed, it is expected to make close to the numbers pumped out in the current Mustang GT.
Crucially, the new V8 injection promises to answer one of the biggest criticisms with Ford’s Baja racer-inspired truck: straight-line performance.
January 3 update:
While Ford will not officially confirm the V8 Raptor is in development ahead of an anticipated on-sale late 2020, the company's Australian communications boss Matt Moran was keen for WhichCar to include the following statement:
"There has always been speculation around the Ranger Raptor - naturally we have nothing share right now about any future plans, but we're thrilled by the passion and how much people love this great truck, designed and engineered right here in Australia."
Read into that what you will; it may not be a confirmation, but it's also far from a denial.
For the full story on Ford’s secret Raptor hero, make sure to pick up the January 2020 issue of Wheels on sale January 3.