Special Walker Evans 17x9 beadlock wheels are drilled for both the Ford Raptor pattern and the Trophy-Truck hubs found on the rear so that they can be used on every corner.
Author: Craig Perronne Photos: Icon Media
DATA LOGGER Vehicle: 2011 Ford F-150 Raptor Owner: John Bowers Builder: HM Racing Designs Significance: Taking a Raptor To The Ultimate Level
THE DOWNLOAD Since its introduction in 2010, the Ford Raptor has captured the attention of almost everyone. We have seen them built into hardcore prerunners and others cruising the mall with suspicious-looking yuppie drivers behind the wheel. And, of course, we also see them being beaten into submission in the dirt by someone who thinks they apparently bought a Trophy-Truck. Regardless of who they are, the majority of Raptor owners are out in the dirt with big smiles on their collective faces, using their trucks as they should. Among the many happy owners is John Bowers whose love of the very capable Blue Oval pickup started out innocently enough. “I actually bought my wife one first. We did some off-roading with it and I really liked it and wanted one, but I didn’t have the heart to take it away from her so I bought this one,” shares John. Bowers spent plenty of time off-road before his purchase, but with his own Raptor his days of getting dirty increased exponentially. Not one to baby his truck, Bowers uses it often and we actually originally met John on a grueling 1,000-mile Raptor run last year. To make spending time in the dirt more comfortable and expand the performance of his Raptor, Bowers eventually began to modify it. As the aftermarket came out with more parts, they were screwed onto his truck to make it even more capable. Eventually, Bowers reached the point where he wanted much more out of his Raptor. “When the truck was almost brand-new we put all new shocks and suspension on it and I took it out on some runs. I played with it, but it just wasn’t good enough for what I wanted. We decided to step it up and take it to the next level, so I took it down to HM Racing Designs and had them cut the back of the truck off and do a four-link, build a full cage and put on their long-travel front suspension,” said Bowers. So why go through all the expense of adding more capability onto what is already a capable truck? For Bowers the answer is simple. “I like to go fast and without the suspension, I just wasn’t able to do so and it was tearing the truck up. With the new suspension on, it serves its purpose. Plus, the family likes to go out and have a good time racing around in it, and now it will be nice and smooth.” Once we saw Bowers’ gorgeous Ford Raptor, we knew we had to take a closer look at it and rolled it into our studio. Follow along as we dive into the details of this extremely built and very cool Ford Raptor.
EXTERIOR To cover the increase in track width and allow for bigger tires, HM Racing Designs installed a FiberwerX fiberglass front clip that was modified to tilt up and out of the way making access to the engine bay an easy affair. Matching bedsides from FiberwerX were also installed to improve the looks of the Raptor and cover the wider rear housing. The entire truck was repainted in the factory Blue Flame Metallic color by Precision Paint and Body who also did the graphics on the hood and added the illusion of flares with a satin black. Other nice details include a bank of Rigid Industries LED lights tucked behind the grill.
A Lowrance GPS unit keeps John and his family on the right track. INTERIOR With John’s family enjoying the Raptor as much as he does, the SuperCrew configuration was perfect. To secure them better, PRP seats are used up front with custom upholstery that matches the look of the factory seats. A custom PRP bench is found in the rear and the whole family is held in place by PRP harnesses. Communication is easy through a five-way PCI Race Radios intercom system with headsets. To further ensure safety, HM Racing Designs built an extremely stout cage into the cab.
The HM Racing Designs system offers 18.5 inches of wheel travel and keeps four-wheel drive, making the Raptor almost unstoppable off-road. FRONT SUSPENSION The front suspension uses HM Racing Designs’ super-trick long-travel suspension system. New upper and lower A-arms and a fabricated spindle help cycle a massive 18.5 inches of travel. Fully controlling all that movement is a King 3.5 three-tube Race Series bypass shock along with a 2.5 Race Series coilover. Also incorporated into the design is room for a King hydraulic bump stop to help slow the final inches of travel. HM’s heavy-duty tie-rod ends can be seen attaching to the factory rack.
A custom-made intake with a UMP filtration system ensures the Raptor always gets plenty of clean air. ENGINE While a stock engine might not seem like a plus, it is as it offers plenty of reliability and the ability to run happily on pump gas. Plus the Ford 6.2L V8 still puts out a healthy 430 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque, so the big Raptor is by no means underpowered. The rest of the drivetrain is stock as well, helping to cut costs and keep things simple. HM Racing Designs nicely finished the ultra-clean engine bay with custom panels.
Found out back is a Warn winch that can also be switched to the front to help unstick the stuck. REAR SUSPENSION For the ultimate in suspension performance, HM Racing Designs decided to cut the back half of the truck off and build a four-link. The design yields a bump-gobbling 26 inches of wheel travel controlled by another set of King Race Series 3.5 five-tube bypass shocks and 2.5 coilovers. To add lots of strength, the stock rear end was removed and replaced with an HM Racing Designs Pro Series Housing filled with 40-spline TCS 300M axles along with 4.88 gears in a Chrisman 9-inch center and topped off with Desert Specialties Trophy-Truck hubs. The tidy HM Racing-built aluminum panels give a finished look to the rear of the truck.