If you've ever dreamed of running flat-out and off-road for miles at a time, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the place to do it. This country on the Persian Gulf, a federation of seven "states" overseen by emirs, has wide open desert spaces like Las Vegas has slot machines. In other words, they spread out in all directions. It's the perfect place to wind it up and see what your truck will do.

As the oil money keeps flowing there, more and more Middle Eastern enthusiasts are finding the means to do just that. The thing is just like drag racing, or any other speed-based endeavor, the original thrill normalizes. Running an 11-second vehicle at the strip is exhilarating the first time but becomes commonplace soon after. So, you look to the output to go quicker, chasing a 10-, 9- or 8-second timeslip. And in the desert, all that more or less flat terrain saps some of the visceral feeling of speed.

It was that all-too-human desire to ratchet up the experience another few notches that a UAE-based enthusiast approached Livernois Motorsports' Dan Millen to build the ulimate desert cruiser—a truck that would blast the sand with the velocity of the Millenium Falcon in hyperdrive and a suspension to keep connected (mostly) with the ground. Millen, a drag racer who's taken his 6-second Mustang to races in the UAE, knows all about keeping up with the need for speed. He was the right guy for the job.

At the customer's direction, a new, 6.2L-powered Ford SVT Raptor SuperCab was procured and immediately torn apart. Already designed as the most serious factory off-road runner ever built, it would merely serve as the starting point for a more-capable desert machine. Let's start with the engine. The 6.2L engine was rebuilt with a longer stroke crankshaft that took displacement from 379 ci to an even 400 (or 6.6L). A set of Carrillo forged steel H-beam connecting rods and coated pistons were attached to the forged stroker crankshaft after it was set back in the block. The entire rotating assembly is a new, exclusive package from Livernois, with the pistons featuring friction-reducing Teflon-coated skirts and a thermal coating on the heads to protect them against the higher combustion temperatures that come with forced induction.

The boost comes from the Livernois-designed turbo kit, which uses a pair of Garrett GT-35R ball-bearing turbochargers and a very healthy intercooling system to ensure dependable performance and optimal inlet-charge temperature in a country where the air temps can exceed 115 degrees farenheit in the summer. There's plenty of thermal wrap on all of the system's flow tubes, too. The turbos are mounted high under the hood, on either side of the engine and blow into the Raptor's stock intake manifold and down through a set of Livernois' CNC-ported cylinder heads. After spinning the turbos' turbines, the exhaust finally exits through a CORSA stainless exhaust system. The stroked V-8's pressurized combustion, with a comparatively low, conservative boost level of about 6 pounds, put down 680 hp to the humongous rear tires, as measured on Livernois' chassis dyno. Typically, a drivetrain parasitic loss factor of about 20 percent would put the output of the engine at around 815 hp, but with the transfer case and rear wheel/tire combinations that weigh more than 100 pounds apiece, we figure the twice-turbo'd engine is making about 830-850 horses at the flywheel.

All that power is channeled through the stock Ford 6R80 six-speed transmission and out to the stock axles. Apart from custom engine badges on the doors and the intercooler's heat exchanger visible through the grille, there is no external giveaway that this pumped-up Raptor is putting down more than twice the power of a stock model. The turbos are unusually quiet, too, perhaps due to all of the thermal wrap on the system absorbing much of the sound. Regardless, it sounds like a whole lot of power trying to push through the hood.

With more than double the horsepower over stock, this Raptor's chassis and suspension required reinforcement to handle running the desert at warp speed. The truck's frame was strategically reinforced and Livernois welded extensive bracing to the rear axle, along with a sturdy rearend girdle. When it came to the Raptor's already-capable suspension, the front was modified with a custom long-travel system featuring coilover shocks with external fluid reservoirs.

In the rear, a set of Deaver springs is used with Fox Racing 3.0 bypass shocks and a custom-welded mounting system. There's also a hydraulic bumpstop conversion, which enables more controlled absorption of hard suspension jolts that compress the suspension, as well as provide better body control when running up the side of a hill or dune on an angle. The truck also wears custom, heavy-duty brake lines throughout, which feed the admirably robust stock four-wheel disc brakes. The impressive rolling stock on this high-riding, high-horsepower beast consists of serious 17-inch Method Race Wheels' Desert Truck beadlock rims wrapped with 37x12.5R17LT General Grabber Tires.

The giant tires and extended suspension pushed out the wide-shouldered stance of the Raptor even farther, prompting the replacement of the front fenders with fiberglass replicas that are two inches wider and deliver a two-inch taller cut, giving the suspension and front tires plenty of room to operate.

With all the big attention paid to the powertrain and suspension, the remainder of the truck's details is simple, but no less effective to the contribution of its overall appearance. The front end wears a custom prerunner-style tube bumper fitted with a quartet of Vision X HID lamps that crank out 35 watts of super-bright light from their 7-inch-diameter housings. And on the inside of the Raptor, only custom-trimmed leather seat upholstery, featuring the customer's initials, differentiates it from stock.

But while we didn't get to experience this force-fed Raptor at terminal velocity, we're sure its owner is doing that at this very moment. And it's a good thing there's plenty of oil in the ground there, because with an 850hp, 6,500-pound truck running at full speed on 37-inch-tall tires, it's going to use a lot of gas. Such is the price for responding to that insatiable need for speed.

Inside the Build

2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor | Livernois Motorsports

Engine

Type: 6.6L (400ci)
Heads: Livernois CNC ported
Cam: Custom ground Livernois
Induction: Twin Garrett GT-35R ball-bearing turbos
Exhaust: Custom TIG-welded manifolds, Corsa after-cat
Cooling: Custom intercooler, aluminum radiator
Fuel System: Boost-a-pump
Ignition: Stock
Engine Management: Livernois ECU tune
Output: 680 whp
Built by: Livernois Motorsports

Drivetrain

Transmission: Ford 6R80 six-speed auto
Rearend: 4:10 electronic differential

Chassis

Front suspension: Icon long travel with coilovers
Rear suspension: Deaver leaf springs with Fox Racing bypass shocks
Brakes: Factory four-wheel disc

Wheels & Tires

Wheels: 17x10-inch Method Race beadlock wheels
Tires: 37x12.5R17LT General Grabber

  • «
  • |
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • View Full Article