The inside story on the Ford Ranger Raptor V8. Why it was never an approved program and likely won’t be built. Will Ford dealers now refund deposits?
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A Ford Ranger Raptor V8 will not arrive in Australian showrooms this year – or likely ever – an extensive investigation by CarAdvice has found.

Contrary to media reports that claimed a Ford Ranger Raptor V8 “is coming”, “has been sanctioned by Ford Australia”, will be “sold through Ford dealers (with) full five-year warranty”, and is “anticipated” by the end of 2020, CarAdvice has learned the program was never close to approval stage.

CarAdvice has been told the Ford Ranger Raptor V8 was ruled out last year while the idea was still in its infancy – more than six months before it made news – and was not “put on hold” due to recent “tightening financial restrictions” driven by the coronavirus crisis, as has been claimed.

Despite media reports that said “there are two things we know for sure: that a V8-engined Ford Ranger Raptor is coming, and that a lengthy queue is already forming for it”, the idea didn't make it beyond an internal presentation.

It is understood a running demonstration vehicle was put together to check fitment as a basic starting point, but the program never made it to prototype stage.

The closest thing to a Ford Ranger with a V8 in it that CarAdvice could find is a workshop ute fitted with a supercharged V8 from a Falcon GT used as “a runaround vehicle and a bit of fun” by a local engineering firm.

While Ford Australia boss Kay Hart is on the record saying the company has a “desire” to introduce a more powerful version of the Ranger Raptor – and CarAdvice has learned the concept was discussed during a confidential dealer meeting last year – a well-placed insider claims “there is a fundamental difference between a desire to do something and an approved program”.

Also apparently untrue were claims the Ford Ranger Raptor V8 would undergo an engine transplant in Australia.

Media reports speculated the standard vehicle’s twin turbo 2.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engine would be replaced in Australia by a Ford Mustang V8 – and that a local engineering firm had been appointed to handle the project.

However, CarAdvice has been told a local engine swap was quickly ruled out as being prohibitively expensive and would have pushed the price of the Ford Ranger Raptor V8 close to or in excess of $120,000.

Re-purposing the Ford Ranger Raptor’s twin turbo 2.0-litre diesel engines removed from the donor cars also proved to be a significant hurdle.

Investigations by CarAdvice found Ford Australia canvassed the idea of having one of its engineering partners in Thailand bring the Ranger Raptor V8 to life – either by assisting assembly on the main production line, or doing an engine swap at its own facility.

That company, RMA Group, has a “flagship automotive conversion facility” and offers “engineering services”, according to its website.

However, RMA Group’s expertise is in fitting out defense and emergency vehicles with bolt-on equipment, rather than performing engine swaps or undertaking major engineering reworks of existing vehicles.

RMA Group’s Thailand facility is approximately 40km east of the two factories that currently produce the Ford Ranger, however they still present logistics problems when doing an engine swap off line.

RMA Group also has a facility in Brisbane, Queensland, however that outfit specialises in fitting bolt-on parts to vehicles used by mining companies.

The prohibitive cost of an Australian engine conversion also ruled out other potential Ford engineering partners Premcar, Tickford and Herrod Performance, all three of which had been linked to a Ford Ranger Raptor V8 in some media reports.

Having spoken to numerous well-placed sources, CarAdvice has learned other significant hurdles stopped the Ford Ranger Raptor V8 from getting off the ground: time, engineering resources, and the final cost of the vehicle.

While the idea of an engine swap sounds straightforward, such a program would require a new round of crash tests, engine and transmission calibrations, emissions compliance, durability testing, and revisions for suspension and stability control systems.

Replacing the fuel tank and lines (contrary to popular belief, modern diesel bladders are not optimised to store petrol long term) were among niggling technical challenges that also weighed against the program.

Even if all the additional engineering tasks were done concurrently with multiple vehicles, company insiders say these processes would take at least two to three years – at a time when Ford’s engineering team is already stretched as it ramps up production of the new generation Ranger due in late 2021 or the first half of 2022.

The other stumbling block for the Ranger Raptor V8: Ford already has a number of power solutions coming for the next model.

The next generation Ford Ranger line-up is expected to be available with the existing the 2.0-litre twin turbo four-cylinder diesel (157/500Nm) and a 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 with close to 185kW and 600Nm.

It is believed there may also be a choice of turbo petrol V6 power and, eventually, a petrol hybrid on certain models, however it is unclear if these will be available globally or in North America only.

The only hope for a Ford Ranger Raptor V8, CarAdvice has learned, is with the next generation model.

However, we have been told that is a slim possibility unless the company can find a way to install the engine on the main production line, to make it more cost-effective.

Even in that scenario, a next generation Ford Ranger Raptor V8 is up against the challenges of engineering resources and tightening global emissions standards, which make it difficult to share such a vehicle with other key markets to boost volume.

Given that the Mustang 5.0-litre currently has an output of 343kW/556Nm – a similar torque rating to other engine options already under development for the next generation Ranger – it is unclear if Ford can justify the investment in a V8 alternative for a relatively niche model.

Internal supporters of the idea of a Ford Ranger Raptor V8 say it’s more about the character and emotional attachment of the engine rather than outright power.

However, they also admit there are petrol and diesel V6 options coming for the next generation Ford Ranger that will match or exceed the power and torque of the Mustang V8.

The current generation Ford F-150 Raptor sold in the US (pictured below) shows the company is not afraid to make the tough call to utilise a twin turbo V6, even though many diehard fans mourn the loss of the V8 from the previous model.

When asked about the claim that Ford was preparing a Ranger Raptor V8, Ford Australia boss Kay Hart told CarAdvice it was “a purely speculative story”.

In an interview, she said: “There is nothing to confirm, nothing to speculate on. We have no Raptor V8 to talk about”.

However, Hart conceded: “There is a very clear customer want for an enhanced Raptor. We continue to look at how we can enhance (the Ranger line-up).”

For its part, the media outlet that said a Ford Ranger Raptor V8 “is coming”, “has been sanctioned by Ford Australia”, will be “sold through Ford dealers (with) full five-year warranty” and is “anticipated” by the end of 2020, has gradually backtracked from its original claims.

A recent article claimed the Ford Ranger Raptor V8 has hit “an insurmountable roadblock” and the project is now on “an indefinite hold”.

An earlier report that had claimed a local outfit “has been picked to take care of the engineering for the upcoming V8 Ranger Raptor project”, also said the project “remains a work-in-progress, with the program not yet fully signed-off by Ford officially”.

As for Ford showrooms taking deposits on the Ranger Raptor V8, a long-standing dealer told CarAdvice: “I haven’t taken deposits. It’s not worth the hassle. I don’t feel comfortable doing that unless I know it’s coming.”

However, the dealer added: “I know plenty of dealers who have (taken deposits). Some customers can’t help themselves, they’ve got money to burn and there are plenty of dealers happy to take the cash just in case it becomes a reality.”