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2010 Ford F150 Raptor SVT - King Of The Desert

Ford Raptor 1,000-Mile Prototype Test

David KennedyPhotographer, Writer

The '10 Ford F-150 Raptor is the most highly anticipated off-road vehicle of the year. Over the last 12 months, bits and pieces of its story have leaked out on the Internet. Reports of the program's being canceled and revived have only added to the truck's mystique. Even the project's code name, Raptor, has set a precedent. It's the first time a vehicle's code name became the actual brand name!

Secretly the F-150 Raptor program has been in development for more than two years. Prototype trucks, known as mules, were blasting around the southwestern deserts and Michigan's Upper Peninsula for months before anyone in the media caught on. While other magazines and online speculators have fed the Raptor fire with rumors, guesses, and flat-out error, Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road is the only source poised to give you the full story, right from the people who made this truck into a reality. We're also the only ones that were on hand to witness the final 1,000-mile durability test of the upcoming 5.4L Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Check it out.

After each 62.5-mile lap, Durability was hoisted on a lift to inspect the chassis. Eight engineers and two Roush technicians combed the vehicle for any signs of wear or damage. The level of punishment the truck went through was evident by the bashed-in front skidplate. In fact, during our lap even we stuffed it into the ground through a torn-up section of the course.

The Auto Industry's Area 51
Testing vehicles over the harshest terrain in one of the hottest places on earth can be downright dangerous. But for nearly 20 years, when auto manufacturers and suppliers need to develop advanced prototypes or verify a concept in the real world (in a way computer simulation just can't do), they call on Pacific Contract Services (PCS), a logistics company.

Owned by Larry and Karen Rae, PCS has operated in more than 45 countries and employs a staff of special operations personnel, county sheriffs, paramedics, and pilots to, as Larry puts it, "Take people places to do things."

PCS handles the client's every need, from food and fuel to auto repair and air support. PCS focuses on the well-being and safety of the automotive engineers so that the engineers can focus on the testing and development they came to do.

In addition to working with Ford Motor Company, PCS handles some of the world's biggest auto suppliers and military contractors-companies like Bosch, Continental Teves, BorgWarner, and even a well-known electric car manufacturer. In fact PCS claims that every production vehicle sold in the U.S. to go off-road has been tested in some part at a PCS facility.

Larry has also been known to help Hollywood film crews. He's literally one of those guys who's been there, done that, and knows the key people who make things happen. He was on his cell phone with off-road racing legend Dave Ashley when we took this photo.