The New Ford F-150 Raptor's Fat Tyres Forced A Production Line Redesign
37-inch tyres are such a popular modification in the pick-up truck community that Ford decreed the latest F-150 Raptor simply had to have them from the factory. The Blue Oval managed it, offering BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO tyres in that size as an optional extra. But adding them to the configurator caused some major headaches at the factory.
In the facility’s previous configuration, a Raptor wearing the bigger hoops wouldn’t fit. The problem is height – with the bigger diameter tyres wrapping its 17-inch wheels, the vehicle is 205cm tall. To put that in some kind of context, the Ranger Raptor we were running last year, considered to be a big car here in the UK, is 17cm shorter.
Putting a 37-inch tyre-equipped F-150 through the assembly line, then, required some major rethink. “Getting it into the plant, that went on for 15 months to find the solution,” third-gen F-150 Raptor programme manager Tony Greco told Road & Track.
“Every single station, every single piece of equipment…We’d run a 2020 Raptor [through the factory] with foam blocks on top to simulate the height. Constant digital reviews with the manufacturing team…They took every down week in the summer and over Christmas trying to change the cycle line to make provisions for what was coming. In the end, we found a really clever way to execute it.”
Greco didn’t mention any specific changes that had to be made to the production line, but he did go into detail about all the modifications the F-150 needed to accommodate the boots. And there were plenty.
It necessitated a suspension redesign, which involved the F-150 adopting rear coil springs for the first time ever, mirroring what Ford did with the Ranger Raptor. The company also insisted on giving each one a full-size spare, which meant modifying the frame and giving the 37-inch-equipped cars a special carrier.
So, if you buy a 35-inch version and switch to 37s, you aren’t going to fit a spare under the car. The towbar mount had to move too, although this arrangement is shared on both derivatives.
What Ford isn’t offering with the Raptor just yet is a V8 engine, with the car confirmed to be using an updated version of the outgoing model’s 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6. We suspected the mysterious ‘Raptor R’ due next year might rectify this though, and sure enough, Ford’s spokesperson Mike Levine has since confirmed to several publications that this version will indeed have a V8.
As for what kind, we can’t be sure – Ford has a multitude of options. The company could pick the 5.2-litre ‘Predator’ supercharged V8 from the GT500, giving the Raptor a handy 750bhp to counter the 702bhp Ram 1500 TRX.
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