For those who enjoy giving Ford F-150 Raptors and Hummer H2s an inferiority complex.
Jeremy Dixon is not a professional product planner, no marketing guru, and certainly not someone who heeds the warnings of a huddle of bean counters. He's the blue collar man Styx's Tommy Shaw was singing about, a truck guy who's passionate about tow ratings and locking differentials and-as it just so happens-the man behind the F250R "Raptor" that set the Internet ablaze a few short weeks ago. Don't ask why but we were coincidentally boarding a flight to Tucson, Arizona, Dixon's home base, when the story broke.
We phoned him up to see if CarBuzz could get more intimate with the truck and days later, arrived on site to find Dixon rummaging through a Snap-On parts truck with his personal SuperRaptor parked next to it, not quite dwarfing the tall van, but making it seem like a peer on equal terms. We were excited, but not as excited as Dixon, who spoke at a few hundred miles an hour about each and every component, the build process, and an innate need to follow his calling and do what he loves: create badass trucks. The basics, in case you missed it the first time around, involve taking an F-250 and cladding it with a thick fiberglass front end and complementing rear fenders with embedded LED lights to make it look like an F-150 Raptor on steroids.
The truck is then lifted using either 40-inch tires slapped onto 17-inch wheels, making what F250R calls a SuperRaptor, or 46-inch "G" rated Michelin XZL rubber surrounding military MRAP wheels that are rated at 10,000 pounds for the MegaRaptor. Going the latter route requires moving the front axle forward, cutting away at the firewall and installing steel plates to make the tires fit. Aside from that both trucks get a modest 4-inch lift, just enough to allow the wheels to clear the fenders. Dixon is a flexible guy to work with, and that's reflected in the fact that his shop can complete the conversion on just about any F-250, Crew Cab, SuperCab or regular cab included.
Though owners can opt for the conversion on F-250s with the 6.2-liter gasoline V8, Dixon highly recommends the 6.7-liter turbo-diesel V8 because, well, big wheels need big torque. Customization options are as long as a customer's wallet, and Dixon even claimed he'd install a fiber optic starlight headliner similar to those available in a Rolls-Royce if the customer wills it. We can't mention any names or features, but his long list of celebrity clients seem to make requests as outlandish as this. Not being prospective buyers, explanation of the custom leather interiors or the power running boards came second to our desire to ride this bull down the hot Arizona roads.
Dixon was nice enough to let us do just that, tossing us the keys to his personal SuperCab SuperRaptor, to date the only truck to leave his shop with a gasoline V8. As his personal testbed for future modifications, the throttle controller had been altered and Dixon claimed the suspension was stiffer than the trucks that typically leave his shop, but the SuperRaptor was a breeze to drive in the city despite the fact his test lab caused the engine to spit angrily between first and second (we kind of liked that). A towering frame forced the driver to remain aware of low-hanging branches and a wide footprint that made getting around buses interesting, but the SuperRaptor kept its calm at civil speeds, maintaining composure until you got on the throttle.
The gasoline V8, given extra power like its diesel cousins using an ECU tune, had no trouble propelling the truck off the line. That itself was a sight to behold, but combined with the subsequent spitting and coughing of the aftermarket exhaust, the SuperRaptor could compete with a flaming firetruck in its ability to simultaneously attract stares of disbelief and move cars out of the way. It was easy to reach illegal speeds quickly, but thankfully Ford's tow-capable brakes are more than enough to handle the job of slowing the beast (Dixon does recommend beefier brakes for the MegaRaptor). A stable driving feel on the road is preserved by mindfulness of the center of gravity as well as a widened track and similarly wide tires.
These add contact patch real estate and keep the F-250 Raptors from sinking into the mud if that hypothetical situation arises. The upgraded Bilstein 5100 shocks and matching front coilovers can be kept stiff, optimal for maintaining control after a highlight reel-worthy jump, but conversely can be softened for those who plan to use the F-250 Raptor to tow heavy loads in the city or just roam the suburbs picking on far smaller vehicles, like a Hummer H2. A quick slalom down a curving road proved that the SuperRaptor was stable and invoked feelings of being behind the wheel of a stadium super truck. Just as fun as the drive were the reactions from other road goers.
Many couldn't unstick their eyes from the SuperRaptor and once, when approaching a stop sign held up by a distracted patron, all it took was the driver noticing a mammoth in her peripherals to squeal off in a huff. For those who don't know, Tucson is famous (or infamous) for its network of washes that help channel the sudden flash floods that follow heavy monsoon rain, and these are nothing but playpens for the SuperRaptor. After gunning the truck over speed bumps for short moments of airtime, we found an empty wash and filled the surrounding air with a snarling V8 echo and pulverized rock. The ride was exhilarating but too short, our time frame allowing only for a 30 minute smash and grab test drive and photoshoot.
During that time it was hard to pinpoint which part was more fun, the drive itself or our temporary celebrity status, in part because it's rare to find a single package that instills so much confidence in a driver while simultaneously scaring them shitless. When it was time to go back, we parked the SuperRaptor among the brand new F-250s waiting to be stripped and converted into Raptor-themed derivatives (Dixon's 5-6 week build process already has a monthlong waiting list), an afternoon well spent. As it should be, because Dixon's F250R shops don't exactly charge chump change for these full conversions, with no kits or half-done Raptors available for sale.
Our SuperRaptor would come in at $25,900 plus the cost of the truck while the MegaRaptor spec adds $4,000 to that price before a buyer gets crazy with the custom add-ons and options. Those looking to save a bit should take note that the conversion can be done on used 2005 F-250 trucks all the way up to 2016 models. If you already have a 2017 model in the driveway, then be patient because Dixon hinted to us that his firm is cooking up something truly special for the current year. A more badass bodykit? Perhaps, but our hopes and dreams are of a supercharged gasoline V8 with beefed-up suspension that's ready to hit the dunes. Let's just hope it stays street-legal. Photos by Anthony Ruggiero.