4 x 4 Australia
CUSTOM: RANGER RAPTOR V8
THE V8 UTE AUSSIES WANTED BUT FORD WOULDN’T BUILD, IS FINALLY HERE
EVER since its launch back in 2019, punters have said they love Ford’s Ranger Raptor but asked the question, “How good would this be with a V8 in it?” After all, only milk and orange juice come in two litres, right? The standard 500Nm diesel engine is no dog, but a performance 4x4 ute needs a performance engine.
If you believe the rumours, Ford Australia has toyed with the idea of shoehorning a V8 into its halo 4x4 ute and there was at least one prototype vehicle getting around the Melbourne sheds of the then factory-supported tuning house Fpv/premcar, but the V8 project was stillborn.
Until now, that is!
IF the factory won’t build it, then it becomes a challenge for clever Aussie hot rodders. In this case, it was Steven Kidley at Queensland’s Killa Kustom Kables & Conversions who jumped on to the task. You might remember Killa Kustom from their Killarado LS V8 into Holden Colorado conversion that we featured a few years back. The business has been plugging away with those conversions into Colorado utes and Trailblazer wagons with installers now in several states, but the demise of Holden has meant a diminishing supply of those vehicles wanting conversions. And the challenge of a V8 Raptor was just too big to ignore for Steve.
“There was a lot of social media interest around rumours that Ford was building a V8 Raptor Ranger,” says Steve. “We saw that and when Ford said they weren’t going to do it, we put things in motion.”
After more than a year of toiling away in the shed, Killa’s Raptor V8 conversion is production ready and Steve is taking bookings to convert owners’ cars or supply complete turnkey vehicles.
A drive-in/drive-out V8 Raptor conversion will cost you $56,000 with full compliance in Qld and NSW, while the cost for other states is yet to be locked in. And, oh yeah, the conversion can be done on a regular PX2 Ranger, not just Raptors.
That might sound expensive but the conversion includes a brand-new Ford 5.0litre crate engine installed using all-new and specifically engineered parts, a PWR cooling system, a new air-conditioning system with all-new hardlines, full electronics integration, full exhaust system and full compliance. This sort of stuff and attention to detail doesn’t come cheap and there was a lot of work needed to get the conversion to this point.
A DRIVE-IN/DRIVE-OUT V8 RAPTOR CONVERSION WILL COST YOU $56,000 WITH FULL COMPLIANCE IN QLD AND NSW
STEVE kicked the project off by securing a written-off Ranger Raptor and yanking the blown-up 4-cylinder diesel out of it, before getting out the measuring tape. The big challenge of fitting Ford’s Coyote 5.0-litre V8 engine to anything that wasn’t made to accept it, is that this is a doubleoverhead-camshaft engine so it is very tall and wide compared to GM’S pushrod LS engine which sits easily in most vehicles.
“It’s very tight on width,” says Steve, “and very tight around sump clearance.”
To sit the V8 engine as low as possible in the engine bay and between the unmolested strut towers, a cast aluminium sump was designed and made, and custom mounts are used to fix the engine to the factory engine posts. The new sump increases the oil capacity of the engine so there’s extra benefits there.
Even then the exhaust headers had to be meticulously designed and fabricated using 1-7/8-inch primaries to a dual threeinch system finishing in a single 3.5-inch outlet. Once the final design was made, the exhaust system was HPC coated. Other custom parts include the billet transmission adapter, a billet thermostat housing, custom moulded hoses, a ‘neck’ to mount the engine intake to the factory Raptor air filter housing, and “dozens of smaller brackets and lines”.
A written off Mustang GT provided the donor engine for the prototype Raptor8, but the production vehicles get the new crate engine. That is, a Ford Performance Coyote crate engine that puts out 345kw at 7000rpm and 570Nm of torque at 4600rpm. It’s pretty much a replacement engine for the current Mustang GT so in reality, it could be serviced by any Ford dealer. It might surprise the technician though, when he opens the bonnet to see the V8 snuggly nestled in the Raptor.
The Raptor retains its 10-speed auto transmission, however it is upgraded with Mustang V8 internals and the rest of the drivetrain remains standard.
“Most complex part was the electrics and making sure everything works and stays fully ADR compliant,” says Steve. “This includes the stability control, autonomous braking, and other factory systems.”
Even the Raptor’s Multi Terrain System which calibrates the engine, transmission and chassis electrics to suit conditions and driving style remains operative, and the MTS’S Baja Mode takes on a whole new feel and sound with V8 power.
THE best part of a standard Ranger Raptor is its bespoke Ford Performance/ Fox suspension package that works so well. It remains relatively untouched here with the V8 engine near identical to the diesel in weight. Steve only added some spacers to the front struts to raise the ride height and balance out the car’s stance.
Speaking of stance, the Raptor8 stands prouder than a stocker on a set of 305/60R18 M/T Baja Boss tyres wrapped around Boss Fink alloy wheels. These conceal a big brake upgrade from Pedders, and this kit is an option for customers getting the conversion to consider. You’ll want the extra stopping power to rein in the newfound performance and let’s face it, the standard Ranger brakes have never been much chop.
Styling wise, Killa has added a front bar, underbody protection and sailplane/ sports bar all from Hamer 4x4 and tucked a Stedi light bar into the grille of this vehicle, which is the first of the production models. When we saw vision of Steve testing the prototype V8 Raptor, we put him under the pump to get this production car ready in just a few weeks for our shoot. The sound of that V8 makes the effort worth it.
A drive-in/drive-out V8 Raptor conversion should take between two and four weeks, depending on what state engineering requirements need to be met. At the time of writing, the car was approved in Queensland and approval in all states was expected soon. Keep in mind, that if using your own Ranger for the conversion it needs to be roadworthy to start with if it is to comply with the V8 installed.
As mentioned earlier, Killa Kustoms & Conversions now has a few authorised installers, as well as its home base in Brisbane’s north. These include, Formula Tech Performance in Perth and CTB Performance in Auckland, NZ.
“IT drives unreal!” says Steve of the Raptor8. “Unlike the diesel where you have to hold your foot to the floor all the time, the V8 just does everything effortlessly. There’s always power on tap.”
Steve’s not done with the project yet. Despite the phone ringing off the hook with enquiries and orders for the conversion, he is planning more power for the Raptor8. In the coming month he’ll be fitting a supercharger kit from Ford Performance/roush, that will take the power up closer to 500kw and see how things go.
Hang on Ford fans, the Ranger Raptor just got a whole lot more appealing and there’s more to come. Stay tuned.
UNLIKE THE DIESEL WHERE YOU HAVE TO HOLD YOUR FOOT TO THE FLOOR ALL THE TIME, THE V8 JUST DOES EVERYTHING EFFORTLESSLY