We're sure you've heard and read about Ford's F-150 SVT Raptor. Built with (fast) off-roading in mind, the SVT Raptor features longer forged-steel upper and cast-aluminum lower control arms, Fox Racing 2.5-inch internal bypass front coilover shocks and 2.5-inch internal bypass, remote-reservoir rear shocks (the Raptor's leaf-sprung in back), micro-cellular urethane jounce bumpers, 17-inch cast aluminum wheels and LT315/70R17/D S speed-rated BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires covered by wider front and rear fenders, off-road specific calibrations for engine and transmission, and an AdvanceTrac traction-control system.?>
The SVT Raptor has 4.10 gears and a rear E-locker that works at any speed in 2WD, 4WD high, and 4WD low ranges. Ours has Ford's new Boss 6.2L V-8 with 9.8:1 compression ratio, two plugs per cylinder, cast-iron block with aluminum heads, cross-drilled mains, and 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque. Mated to the impressive new V-8 is Ford's six-speed automatic. We figured this truck would make an amazing backcountry-exploring vehicle, with room in the bed for extra gasoline and equipment. It's comfortable on the street or in the dirt, goes as fast as anyone would want, yet can still crawl with the locker in back to help with traction. The truck weighs 6,000 pounds. Before you start chanting the "that's way too heavy" mantra, reflect that modified JK Unlimiteds are tipping scales anywhere from 6,000 to 7,400 pounds!
While the SVT Raptor is great right off the showroom floor, a few modifications will make it better for our use. Ford Racing Performance Parts offers a light bar with 8-inch KC lights to illuminate the nighttime trails and Deaver Spring is building leaf packs to replace the rear OE leafs. What? The mighty SVT Raptor needs a suspension mod? Yes, it does.
The front works great at any speed. The rear has two long, thick leaves, a short overload leaf, and a block. With the torque and horsepower produced by the 6.2L V-8, the SVT Raptor has spring wrap off-road. The OE leaf springs also produce a choppy, busy ride over small bumps (big bumps are fine, though). Deaver Spring, leaf spring experts for more than 100 years, has developed a SVT Raptor spring package that remedies the OE truck's issues. The Deaver packs have 11 thin leafs and one rebound leaf to reduce axle wrap. Fabricated from high-grade 5160 American-made steel, the Deaver's thin leafs yield a flexible progressive leaf stack that produces a smooth spring rate curve through the suspension cycle. The diamond-cut inner leaf ends minimize shear points and anti-friction pads between the leafs provide smooth and quiet operation. They're direct replacements for the OE leaf packs and delete the lift block. They come with everything needed for the swap, including new 18mm front eye bolts, bushings, and U-bolts.
Deaver rear springs allow the Raptor to perform as it should. Gone is the rear chatter over small bumps. The Raptor's ride is now butter-smooth and controlled, whether on street or trail, going fast or slow. We haven't experienced any spring wrap so far. That's saying something, as the OE leaf packs would always wrap under hard acceleration off-road. The truck sits exactly as it did stock, with no more lift than OE.
Check out the photos. The SVT Raptor is an extremely comfortable and capable backcountry explorer. With the Ford Racing light bar, KC lights and, especially, the Deaver springs, it's even better. Next month, we address the bed and start setting it up for exploring.