CREATING an interesting and unique custom 4x4 vehicle to promote your business at shows and on the tracks is getting harder all the time.
Like how many catalogue-built Ford Rangers and Toyota Hiluxes have you seen? And chopped, stretched and portal-axled LandCruisers are a dime a dozen these days. Standing out from the crowd requires something different, and that can often mean getting your hands on the newest vehicles as they come onto the market.
Brown & Watson marketing manager Jake Smith went through the options when considering the build for his new company car to promote B&W’s Narva brand.
Jake looked at fully kitted Cruisers and American pick-up trucks during his deliberations before settling on the then yet-to-be-released Ford Ranger Raptor, knowing that the off-road-focused ute would be hot property in 2018 and onwards.
Being one of the first to kit up any new model opens up the challenges of getting the right accessories, as many aftermarket companies won’t have them readily available yet and they could take months to engineer and make them.
Jake’s previous work vehicle was a regular PX Ranger, so he had a pretty good idea of what he wanted for his Raptor but, despite being based on the Ranger, the extra width of the Raptor meant some accessories wouldn’t be a straight bolt-on fit.
The Raptor presents another interesting conundrum as it already comes fitted with some of the best off-road suspension and tyres from the factory, but, again, Jake’s plans called for alternatives. He wanted a full-service body fitted to the back of the Raptor, but the wide wheel track and reduced load capacity of the Ford Performance vehicle required some very careful planning.
“I chose a canopy from Trig Point as it’s one of the lightest in its class, but super strong,” says Jake. “That was very important considering the Raptor doesn’t have a great load-carrying capability.”
The aluminium Trig Point canopy mounts straight to the chassis and doesn’t sit on a tray, which in itself is a weight saving over tray-mounted units. It required wider wheel arch flares to cover the wider track and has an inbuilt 70-litre water tank and integrated rear protection bar. Naturally, it’s fitted with Narva LED tail-lights and is chock-full of Narva and Projecta electrical goodies.
The 12-volt setup starts with a Projecta 25amp DC/Solar Lithium dual-battery system feeding a 100 amp lithium battery and a 1000W Projecta pure sine wave inverter. Projecta Smart Battery Gauge and Low Voltage Disconnect units help manage the power storage, while a host of USB, Anderson and Merit power sockets are fitted to power various accessories. The power management system is mounted to the headboard inside the canopy.
Some of the accessories permanently mounted inside the canopy include full LED strip lighting and an 80-litre Dometic upright refrigerator.
“I chose the stand-up fridge due to its light weight,” informs Jake. “It weighs no more than 25-odd kilograms compared to your standard 60L fridge and drop-down slide, which combined would weigh in at
closer to 80kg.”
Despite the constant attention to weight-saving in this build, the additions of the canopy and its accessories, a 150-litre Brown Davis long-range fuel tank, a steel bumper and winch upfront and additional lighting, the Raptor was on its weight capacity, so upgrading the factory-fitted Fox suspension was needed.
CalOffroad helped here, supplying coil springs which are 100kg constant rate and 20mm taller in the front and 400kg constant load and 30mm taller under the rear. The factory Fox shock absorbers are retained while the original tyres have been replaced with larger 305/65R17 Cooper STT Pro rubber.
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As Narva is best known for its automotive lighting, it should come as no surprise to find that Jake’s Raptor is loaded with extra LED lights. Starting at the front of the car, concealed in the Offroad Animal bumper are an Explora 22-inch single-row LED light bar and Narva 90mm DRL/Fog lights, while on the bar are a pair of Ultima 215 and Ultima 180 LED driving lights.
Up on the roof is a pair of Explora 22-inch double-row LED light bars shining forwards, while a duo of work lamps shine to the sides, and there’s another LED light bar illuminating to the rear.
You might think that Jake is afraid of the dark, but you need to remember that this vehicle is a rolling showcase of the products he represents. We’ve got to say that with its bold sign-writing that complements the factory Ford blue, the Raptor project represents the Narva brand well.
We’ve seen plenty of Raptors wearing fibreglass/plastic canopies over the factory ute tub, but this is the only one we’ve spotted with a full custom body fitted to the back, so it certainly catches attention.
Jake says he’s always being stopped by people wanting to check it out and wanting to know more about the canopy, and he never misses a chance to talk up the lights and other Narva products.
Jake also says he couldn’t be happier with the way his company car has turned out. “If I had all the money and was building it for myself, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
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