The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is one of the most rugged, off-road-capable pickup trucks out there. In fact, in a showdown of four of the most off-road-savvy pickups on Earth, PickupTrucks.com named the 2012 F-150 SVT Raptor its winner, lauding it for one of the more dominant contest performances of 2012. Hennessey domesticates the four-door SuperCrew cab Raptor just a little, transforming it into the VelociRaptor SUV.
Pickups are great for job site workers and DIYers, but they're not a practical option for many drivers. Hennessey turns the F-150 SVT Raptor into an SUV by replacing the bed with a rear cabin, making the rugged Ford a bit more family-friendly with seating for up to eight. Hennessey has built VelociRaptor pickup kits before, but this is the first time it's converted a Raptor into an SUV.
"Over the past three years we have built nearly 400 upgraded Raptor trucks for enthusiasts around the world," says Don Goldman, CEO of Hennessey Performance. "We are now very excited to be able to offer the VelociRaptor SUV to those who like the Raptor but want more seats and space."
Of course, the VelociRaptor trades some of the stock Raptor's off-road dominance in gaining its added family friendliness. Hennessey admits that it hasn't fully tested the VelociRaptor off the pavement but advises that it's more a vehicle for light to medium off-road duty.
"Don't plan on pre-running Baja or negotiating Rubicon with our SUV – that is not why we built it," says company founder John Hennessey. "But, if you're looking for the ultimate vehicle to drive from Aspen to Telluride in January, the VelociRaptor SUV would be perfect."
John tells us that he believes that it will actually do quite well off-road with possibly up to 90 percent of the performance level of the stock Raptor pickup, but he doesn't want to overplay the hand until he's had a chance to fully vet it.
"Unfortunately, some Raptor owners have pushed their trucks a bit too far by trying to jump them to extreme heights," Hennessey explains. "And I don't want anyone buying a VelociRaptor SUV and getting into the same trouble that some standard Raptor truck owners have gotten into by trying to be like Evel Knievel on 4 wheels."
That said, the VelociRaptor offers the option for plenty of muscle. Hennessey keeps Ford's 411-bhp 6.2-liter V8 engine for the US$149,500 base VelociRaptor but adds the option of a 600-bhp supercharged version of that V8. The base model runs the 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 7.5 seconds, and the 600 Supercharged package cuts that down to 5.9 seconds. The VelociRaptor SUV base model keeps all of Ford's equipment intact, but optional upgrades include Brembo front brakes, LED lighting upgrades, a bigger set of wheels and tires, and armoring systems.
Given its high price (the 2013 Ford SVT Raptor starts around $44,000) and lack of standard upgrades outside the SUV conversion, the VelociRaptor seems to have very limited appeal.
A father of four who uses an SVT Raptor for work and wants another one as a family car might like it, but we can't imagine many others joining him since they could get an equal or better SUV for road or off-road driving at a fraction of the cost. That's okay for Hennessey, though, because it only plans to build 30 models a year. The first model was built for Jim Jannard, founder of Oakley sunglasses and RED cameras.
"The idea came from my own desire to have a Raptor that could take me, my wife and our 5 kids and stuff just about anywhere we wanted to go," Hennessey tells us. "When Jim Jannard saw our renderings a few years ago, he invited me and my family to visit him at his RED Studios in Hollywood. After seeing his work with Oakley and how he most recently transformed the digital film industry, I was fascinated with how he was able to take an idea and turn it into something special. With Jim's encouragement, I took the plunge and decided to build our first VelociRaptor SUV for him."