Why the Ford Raptor Replaced the Sleek Lightning

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Ford Raptor

Ford’s F-150 quickly became a logistical nightmare, and that’s when the Raptor was born.

Have you ever wondered why Ford built the Raptor instead of another Lightning? The Lightning never sold more than 6,381 units in a single year (2001), so you could blame sales figures. Meanwhile, the Raptor, despite initial sales projections of only 5,500 per year, topped 24,000 units in 2014!

According to some, the real reason the Lightning became a sacrificial lamb for the Raptor has nothing to do with sales, as Motor Authority recently discovered. Motor Authority asked Ford Performance’s Technical Specialist of Vehicle Dynamics, Eric Zinkosky, and his answer was quite simple: The F-150 got too fat.

Ford RaptorLike every other modern vehicle nowadays, the F-150 has grown substantially over the years.

“In about 2006, we started looking at a performance truck off the new chassis,” Zinkosky tells Motor Authority. “The truck had grown to be very big. When we looked at what it took to make that a better-performing Lightning, it was a lot of power, it was a lot of tire, it was a lot of brake. In our mind, that became a huge challenge.”

Finding a brake big enough to handle that extra power and weight initially proved to be an issue. Even six-piston Brembo brakes weren’t enough to make the F-150 safe. These logistics, along with a changing consumer market, led them to go down a different high-performance path — one that wasn’t paved.

Ford Raptor

Jamal Hameedi, one of Ford’s chief engineers, helped steer the team in the right direction. “To his credit, Jamal took a look at what people were doing with their F-150s: Driving them down the road, and paying some outfitter eight or ten thousand dollars to put bigger tires on it, a lift kit, and Fox Shox,” Zinkosky says. “We realized there was a place where the OEMs weren’t doing anything, and that was a performance off-road truck right out of the dealership.”

It was a simple but brilliant move that has paid dividends in sales and brand image ever since. So, even though a small percentage of buyers may clamor for a new Lightning, the growth of the F-150 and changing consumer habits have rendered it obsolete. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t ask for an SVT Ranger, now does it?

Join the Ford fans in the forum.>>


Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other sites.

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