OPINION: Why Ford should build a Ranger Raptor V8

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When the Ford Ranger Raptor was launched earlier in 2019, one of the biggest question marks around the bakkie was the fact that it was not powered by a V8 engine. It’s not as if the bakkie couldn’t handle it, because the Raptor’s underpinnings are as capable and robust as they come. Would it not have been easy to just give that stamp of approval and then have a V8 engine fitted? Of course, it would have, but then someone would have had some serious explaining to do.

For the sake of indulging in the forbidden fruit, what if Ford South Africa were to build a SA-only Raptor fitted with a big V8 engine? What if all the parts are already there and just needed assembly? What if all the stars aligned and Ford actually did it. Here’s why we think something like this could – and should – happen.

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V8 engine? Where?!

Though Ford is doing all it can to fight climate change and preserving the planet, they also know that there’s still a market for big engine vehicles. In America, there are monstrosities powering trucks (bakkies, as we like to call them) roaming the 52 states, all driven by good ol’ American muscle. And the popular choice is bakkies powered by V8 engines.

Bar the Toyota Land Cruiser Pick-up, there are no bakkies in South Africa that are powered by V8 engines and are the largest displacement that of a V6 engine. But Ford does have a V8 petrol engine in its model line-up powering its Mustang muscle car. Coincidence, much?

Ford SA could just request a consignment of these engines, replace the Ranger Raptor’s bi-turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine, and there you go! Power outputs would read so much better, too. For application in the Mustang, the V8 engine delivers 331kW and 529Nm of torque. That’s a lot of power compared to the diesel engine’s 157kW/500Nm. The Ranger Raptor’s engine bay is also big enough to house the V8 engine.

Gearbox? From 2019 onwards, Ford brought its new 10-speed automatic gearbox to market and does this unit do duty in a number of Ford’s products; including both the Raptor and Mustang.

Won’t it be expensive?

As of September 2019, the Ford Ranger Raptor retails for R803 300. It’s a fair amount more expensive than the Ranger WildTrak 4×4 automatic (R692 200), but you do get properly good value for your money. Going out on a whim: if Ford had to replace the Raptor’s current engine with the Mustang’s V8, it would probably have a bit of an impact on the bakkie’s retail price. And given that the Mustang V8 retails from R915 800, Ford might get away with a slight increase over the current Ranger Raptor price.

Counting against the 5.0-litre V8 being used in the Raptor is that the Raptor, as things stand, is wholly built in South Africa. The engine is built at Ford’s Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth, while the bakkie’s assembly is done at the plant in Silvertone, Pretoria. The Mustang’s engine is built in the USA and would it incur import costs and taxes should it make its way to Pretoria.

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Image: Charlen Raymond

When taking everything into consideration, building a Ranger Raptor V8 for the local market would require an asking price in the region of R900 000. But if this had to be a model limited to, let’s say, 100 units, the exclusivity around these could well justify a price tag of R1.0-million. Ford needn’t look far for inspiration.

When it launched the 2019 Mustang a few weeks ago, the automaker also launched a limited-edition Bullitt version, of which only 50 were destined for the local market. At just under a R1.0m, 50% of the consignment had already been sold by the time the launch took place. And considering that the Ford Ranger is the SA’s third best-selling vehicle overall, it wouldn’t be too hard finding buyers for each of the 100 units…

It may be a pipedream encouraged by many pennies thrown into this article, but you can’t go wrong with a V8-powered Ford Ranger Raptor. You just can’t.

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Image: Charlen Raymond