Of late there have been a lot of changes over at Ford, including the cancellation of most of its car programs in North America. In advance of this move toward trucks and SUVs, Ford had recently bragged that the Raptor single-handily outsold all of Porsche by itself. Now, ironically, the engineer crucial to creating this iconic pickup is exiting Ford. Global Performance Vehicle Chief Engineer, Jamal Hameedi, recently departed for another automaker’s performance division.
“After an incredible 27-year career at Ford Motor Company, it is time for something new!” he said on social media. “I am moving to England to join Jaguar-Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations creating amazing vehicles, such as the SV coupe.”
That’s a staggeringly long run helping create some of the most important performance vehicles of the last quarter century. From helping Ford’s Rough Riders off-road teams win three Baja 1000 titles early in his career to honing vehicles as diverse as the Focus RS, Ford GT, and Shelby GT500, Jamal was intimately involved with creating so many of the performance vehicles we know and love.
“I’ve been a car freak ever since I was a kid. I went to Washington University in St. Louis and worked on a couple of SAE student design competitions: the Methanol Marathon (where we built a M85 Chevy Corsica). Then we did the Natural Gas Vehicle Challenge where we built a lean-burn, twin-turbo small-block, 12.5:1-compression Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that ran on natural gas. Those projects really brought engineering together with my love of cars,” Jamal told the Ford GT Forum back in 2010.
While he leaned on his early Ford off-road experience in car development — as 5.4 engines similar to those run in those race-winning trucks would eventually power the first-gen Ford GT and the Shelby GT500 — his time in the desert would truly pay dividends for the Blue Oval’s trucks. Jamal helped the now-defunct Ford Special Vehicle Team pivot from developing a third version of the Lightning sport truck to creating a truck that few predicted would be so successful — an off-road-capable pickup dubbed the Raptor.
That truck, which certainly echoed his early days at Ford, is not only a continuing success under the Ford Performance banner, but it has spawned the smaller Ranger Raptor and is clearly an inspiration for the forthcoming Bronco. So, while Jamal is moving on from the Blue Oval, his work will live on as Ford continues its performance push in the off-road market.