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With the allegations of bent frames, the Ford Raptor has had some wind taken out of its off-roading sails. The outcry from its owners has made SVT Chief Nameplate Engineer Jamal Hameedi come out of hiding to answer some questions.
Speaking to Autoblog, Hameedi believes that the frame bending isn’t a Ford issue, and one of owner treatment—but it’s not exactly abuse, either. “I think there’s a certain learning curve going out there,” he said. “The cool thing about the Raptor is that it’s something new that has never been done before. So it’s bringing a lot of new enthusiasts into this realm of high-speed off-roading.”
Judging by the video of the 10 trucks conducting high-speed runs, the owners were driving a 60 to 80mph in the desert, and anecdotally up to 120mph—too fast for the terrain, and forcing the truck to run out of suspension travel. According to Hameedi, the frame was designed to yield in such conditions, to avoid kicking the rear end into the air and causing an even worse accident.
“There’s a learning curve with these new enthusiasts and the organizers – of how to properly run an off-road, high-speed event like this. This is part of that learning curve. You can’t just find an off-road trail and barrel down it at 100 miles an hour.”
These owners, who are still negotiating their warranty claims, might not be happy to hear that the source of all their problems is that they don’t know how to drive. But that’s the story Hameedi is sticking with, along with what’s outlined in the owner’s manual: “you can get yourself into trouble very easily if you don’t know what you’re doing or if you’re driving above your ability or those of the vehicle. It’s not very different than a very capable, very fast sports car on a road course.
“You can break anything, you can even break a trophy truck,” said Hameedi, when asked about the ads and videos from Ford that show the Raptor’s high-speed off-road capabilities. “You have to be responsible and sensible about the way what you’re doing to the vehicle and the way you’re driving it.”
Hameedi advises that owners who may get their warranty claims denied can always get their frames restraightened for about $800, and that there are aftermarket solutions to prevent this sort of thing from happening to other Raptors. But this won’t sit well with the members of RaptorForumz.com, who publicized the issue in the beginning: they’ve argued that the event where 10 out of 14 trucks were damaged was well-organized with GPS tracking and marked obstacles, and that some of the trucks were damaged even before any off-roading.
Hameedi has explained that SVT will work on communicating with owners and event organizers, even focusing on instructional sessions. But for the 10 owners who see this as a manufacturing defect, and aren’t too keen on fixing the problem with their own money—hearing this from the head of SVT won’t end their situation.
Ford‘s SVT Raptor R, which competes in famous off-road races like the Baja 1000, is set to get an uprated version of the 3.5L Ecoboost twin-turbo V6. In its current form, the Raptor R puts down roughly 500 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque from its 6.2L V8, and the Ecoboost V6 will have to make at least that sort of power.
Fortunately, that task shouldn’t be a challenge for the Ecoboost. The turbochargers used are a pair of Garrett GT15s, which are tiny units each the size of a donut. Swapping them in for even a medium-size set of turbos should yield the magic 500 horsepower, with minimal stress on the engine and nearly-identical power delivery compared to the big V8. We know that the Ecoboost will be a top-of-the-line engine on the 2011 F150, pumping out around 400 horsepower, and what better way to prove to V8-loving truck buyers that a V6 can do the job than to put it through one of the most grueling races ever.