Whether you own a Ford Raptor or just admire them, you know they’re a formidable off-road machine. With its standard high-output 3.5-liter, twin-turbo Ecoboost engine and three-inch FOX Racing shocks, it’s an undeniable upgrade from the standard F-150.
But what do you do when great just isn’t good enough? Well, if you work for American Trucks like Justin Dugan, you take advantage of your resources, tear it down, and make it even better.
After owning the truck for about a year, Justin decided it was time to put his resources to use and build his Raptor to its full potential. To start this burly build, he and his team began by removing the original FOX shocks with internal bypasses and replacing them with aFe’s new Sway-A-Way three-inch front coilovers on the front for even better shock absorption and a more aggressive look. These beastly coilovers include external fluid reservoirs, which provide better fluid separation from the nitrogen for superior dampening performance.
They also provided an extra 2-2.5 inches of lift, enabling him to install slightly larger tires. The rear shocks were also replaced with aFe Sway-A-Way three-inch rear bypass shocks for consistent handling and appearance. And their chrome construction with red mounting flanges makes for a sporty look.
Next up were the brakes. It’s well known that the stock brakes on the Ford Raptors are one of its weakest links, so Justin had no hesitation when it came to replacing them. For this build, he chose to go with Alcon’s military-grade front and rear brake upgrade kit. This kit includes billet aluminum bracketing and a six-piston caliper system for dramatically increased braking performance. And since he was stuffing them behind a 17-inch wheel, they really made a bold statement with the red calipers peeking through. More importantly, they allow the Raptor to go from 60 – 0mph in about 90 ft. That’s roughly equivalent to a ZO6 Corvette – a huge stopping power improvement over stock.
Now, when it comes to exhaust, there is great debate on whether it’s worth it to spend the money on a six-cylinder exhaust package. After all, these twin-turbo powerplants just don’t have the bark that a good old-fashioned V8 can offer. Nonetheless, since Justin was also installing a Roush cold air intake and a new intercooler, it only made sense to complete the intake and exhaust system to maximize airflow and output. For that reason, Justin chose to install a three-inch. dual exhaust system with gunmetal, rear-exit tips by CORSA. Some may not be a fan of the amplified six-cylinder sound, but Justin claims that these tips offer a quiet ride under normal cruising conditions as well as a nice little buzz under acceleration, just to let you know what’s under the hood.
Moving back to the front of the airflow system, as previously mentioned, they replaced the stock intercooler with a new intercooler system by Addictive Desert Designs. This much larger system is designed to reduce heat in the forced-induction intake system, thereby reducing heat and associated power-zapping heat soak, ultimately restoring horsepower and torque. It’s well known that heat soak can dramatically reduce power consistency after long operating periods, so this system goes a long way to consistently give you that punch at the throttle from start to finish.
This was a slightly more intrusive installation in that it required the removal of the front bumper and grille but that was okay because Justin was replacing the stock bumper with a sexy new Stealth Fighter front bumper, also by Addictive Desert Designs. These bumpers are made from thick steel tube construction with a premium Hammer Black finish, offering an aggressive look and rugged protection.
Not only does this bumper include LED light mounts, but it also has a winch mount for easy bolt-on installation. For those two accessories, Justin chose the KC HiLITES 40-inch Flex Array LED light bar and a Barricade 9,500-pound winch with wireless control. To add an extra touch, he accessorized his winch with an anodized red aluminum Prolink winch hook by Factor 55 to add stronger performance capabilities, while also tying in with the red accents throughout the truck. Of course, you can’t replace the front bumper without also replacing the back, so Justin installed the matching Stealth Fighter rear bumper and added the three-inch C-Series LED light cubes for rear illumination.
All of these performance mods are designed to complement each other, especially when it comes to power. That’s why none of them are complete without finally installing a custom tune to maximize the truck’s potential. To do this, Justin and crew used a Rev-X Tuner by ID Motorsports. By simply recalibrating the tune to work with the newly installed parts, and adding a couple more pounds of boost, they were able to take the Raptor from the stock baseline run of 359 hp and 396 lb-ft of torque, to an impressive 428 hp and 477 lb-ft of torque. That’s an increase of 69 hp and 81 lb-ft of torque, all of which add to the excitement of driving a modified Raptor where it counts – off-road.
Every truck enthusiast knows that it’s the details that tie the build together, so there were other visual modifications as well. With the improved clearance, Justin installed new 35” Nitto tires mounted on the new 17-inch Sprocket wheels by Black Rhino. These provided a little more ground clearance and gave the truck a wider stance and more aggressive look overall.
Finally, to literally “cap” off this build, Justin replaced the rear differential cover with a new aFe Pro Series rear differential cover, which increases fluid capacity and helps dress up the undercarriage with the machined aluminum cooling fins.
There are countless ways to configure a build with thousands of parts and accessories to choose from. Weather you’re doing a full blown build like Justin’s, or just want to start small, American Trucks is a great place to start for finding the right parts for you.
What is your favorite thing about this build? Let us know in the comments below.