Ford Ranger Raptor V8 engine swap… really?

ByIsaac BoberJanuary 10, 2020
Ford Ranger Raptor V8 engine swap… really?

The Internet is frothing over a report that offered no supporting material for its claim that Ford would soon release a limited-edition, engine-swapped Ranger Raptor V8. And it got us thinking.

The Interweb has gone properly silly after Wheels released a story claiming work was well underway on a V8-powered Ranger Raptor. Search Google and every single motoring outlet on the planet has run the story, often lamenting that it would be an Australia-only thing.

Looked at on the surface you could argue the yarn was nothing other than click-bait but, sit back, with a drink in hand and do a bit of research and you start wondering if the story might actually be ‘something’… Only perhaps not ‘something’ in the way Wheels reported. Stay with me now as this will get messy and before you all decide to shoot me, remember, this is pure speculation with a touch of devil’s advocate thrown in.

There’s no secret that the next generation Volkswagen Amarok would be built off the Ford Ranger platform and Volkswagen already has a big power V6 in the Amarok. You can see where this is going. And I’ll come back to that.

Let’s jump back to the Raptor for a minute. The chatter is that Australia will be the only country to be offered with a V8-powered version and that the work would likely be performed by a third-party outfit. Yep, sounds reasonable. There’s even been reference made to the Navara Warrior developed by Premcar and the supercharged, limited-edition Mustang R-Spec developed in conjunction with Herrod to suggest a local outfit could engine-swap the 2.0-litre bi-turbo four-pot for a V8 from the Mustang. Hmm.

Don’t get me wrong, this sounds super tasty and the Raptor can definitely handle more grunt but an engine swap. That’s a big job and would require recalibration of everything. For instance, there would only be a handful of engineering outfits that would be big enough to handle the job and, even then they’d need to shop out certain aspects of the swap. And that’s because, while the world knows the 5.0-litre V8 from the Mustang will fit into the Ranger and Ranger Raptor and the 10-speed automatic will work with it, mechanics we’ve spoken with reckon there’s pretty much only one spot the bigger engine will fit with zero wriggle room. Then you’d need to make sure the transmission marries up with the engine and the exhaust. It’s a massive job and one that could potentially add anywhere from $15,000 – $30,000 to the price of the Raptor.

One after-market tuning mob already has its own V8 conversion in the works and that’s Powercurve Performance which is planning on a release this year with an LS V8 swap suitable for PXI and PXII variants. And there have been other one-off conversions. So, if Ford Australia reckons there’s a market then, sure, nothing’s impossible. But…

When the Raptor was launched in 2018, Ford was adamant it hadn’t thought of using any engine other than the 2.0-litre bi-turbo and, according to chief engineer at Ford Performance, Jamal Hameedi, (who spoke to Carsguide in Thailand) for anyone to focus on the engine was missing the point of the thing.

“My response to that is: you don’t get what the Raptor is all about; if you’re focusing on the engine, you’re missing the whole point, dude.

“The Raptor is about the suspension, it’s about the chassis and it’s about breaking the bank on the chassis, the suspension, the architecture, the shocks… those four shocks cost as much as a small engine, and that’s not an exaggeration.

“That’s what the Raptor is – it’s not about horsepower, it’s not about torque; it’s having enough horsepower and enough torque to do the job but it’s not a focal point.”

Indeed, Trevor Worthington, Ford Australia boss is also on the record (2018) as saying the question of a larger engine for the Raptor had never occurred to Ford. “That question never occurred to us. It’s a very Australian perspective and that question was never part of our process For those that are looking for traditional performance, there’s Mustang”. So why would it become a question that’s part of the process now?

So, while technically there are mobs around that could perform the conversion you’ve got to wonder why Ford Australia would go back on everything it’s said about the Raptor up until now. And that’s especially when you consider there’s an all-new Ranger coming in 2022 and that, as mentioned earlier, it’ll be a platform share with the VW Amarok.

That leads to the question that, would it be worth Ford spending the money to offer a limited run of Raptor’s with a V8 conversion when the next Ranger out could end up with a more powerful engine from the factory as part of the Ford and Volkswagen co-development deal.

The Ford Ranger is already this country’s best-selling 4X4 and its capability in the bush has never been questioned but performance seems to be something that everyone keeps coming back to. So, it makes sense that Ford would ultimately want a Ranger with more power and a Ranger Raptor with even more power again…if Ford decides the Raptor isn’t so much about off-road performance and more about “traditional performance”.

And there are plenty of engines in the Volkswagen stable that could offer that extra oomph from the factory, from the current hot-shoe V6 in the Amarok which is the country’s most-powerful factory engine in a pickup. Through to the 4.0-litre V8 in the Touareg. Indeed, Professional Pick Up and 4×4 (in late 2018) claimed to have spied an Amarok being tested in the Austrian Alps with the 4.0L V8 from the new Touareg which makes a stonking 310kW and 900Nm of torque and will hurl that luxo barge to 100km/h in just 4.9 seconds.

So, in the same way we can speculate that Ford Australia might be looking to shoehorn a V8 into the Ranger Raptor via a local tuning house, could we similarly speculate that the next-generation Ford Ranger and Amarok might actually end up running a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel with 190kW and 580Nm of torque as standard? And that the Ranger Raptor, if it ends up continuing into the next-generation platform, could find itself running a 4.0L V8 from the Touareg. Now, that would be something.

Indeed, when the announcement was made that the next-generation Amarok would be built off the same platform as the next-generation Ford Ranger, Ford boss, Jim Hackett said: “Over time, this alliance will help both companies create value and meet the needs of our customers and society. It will not only drive significant efficiencies and help both companies improve their fitness, but also gives us the opportunity to collaborate on shaping the next era of mobility.”

The “efficiencies” part of that statement is where I start to hope he’s meaning engine sharing which would mean, yeah, there’s potential for a factory produced V6 and V8 via Volkswagen to be run in next-generation Ranger and Ranger Raptor.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I sincerely hope Ford decides to dig around under the couch cushions and find the development coin for the V8 engine conversion but then, I also hope the next-generation Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok end up getting the big-power VW diesel engines from the factory.

Question: What do you think, do you reckon Ford will go with a local engine swap or hold out for the next-gen and potentially run a VW-sourced V6 and V8 and, if it does go for the engine swap would that make the Raptor more appealing?