The Ford Raptor is without question the most hardcore stock off-road truck on the market. But what if you’re not an “average” Raptor owner? That’s when aftermarket companies like Shelby American step in with something even more hardcore and equally badass. Introducing the 2018 Shelby Baja Raptor.

Very few aftermarket tuners have the blessing of the major automotive manufacturers, and Shelby American is one of them. They have been working closely with Ford making top notch performance vehicles for quite some time now. Normally, their specialty is on-road performance muscle cars, or in the case of the Ford GT supercars. However, they know a thing or two about off-road performance too, and they make that very well known with this new Shelby Raptor. This isn’t the first time they’ve applied their expertise to the Raptor either. The first generation Shelby Raptor was about as badass as it gets thanks to a 2.9L Whipple supercharger attached to the 6.2L V8 which produced a neck-snapping 700hp. And now Shelby has worked their magic on the new Gen 2 Raptor and at first glance, it looks spectacular.

Photo: shelby

That is one thing about the Gen 2 Raptor, it is a great looking truck. Granted, I’ve thought from the get-go that it could’ve been more aggressive looking and that it needed something to help distinguish it more from the standard F-150. But it’s still a great looking truck. Shelby just accentuated those looks and made them even more prominent. Take the bumpers, for example, normally you would completely overlook the bumpers on a truck but yet the solid steel beauties on the Shelby Raptor stick out like a sore thumb, in the best possible way. The way they’ve incorporated the lighting system within the bumpers make them even more appealing, both in regards to aesthetics and functionality.

But let’s be honest, you don’t care about the aesthetics. What really matters is the performance. It still pains me to say it, but the gen 2 Raptor came from the factory with a twin turbo V6 and as much as I’d like to tell you Shelby American ripped that thing out and replaced it with a supercharged Coyote V8, or something along those lines, I can’t. I can’t even tell you that the new Shelby Raptor puts out 700hp like the old one did. However, I can tell you that according to reports this new Shelby Raptor is just as capable, if not more, than its predecessor in every measurable way.

Photo: autoweek

The V6 in the stock Raptor is no slouch with 450hp and 500lb-ft of torque. This one has been upgraded with a new high-flow air filter, ECU tune, aluminum intercooler, and a cold-air intake. Those minor improvements combined to bring the power specs up to 525hp and 610lb-ft of torque. Now the horsepower specs may not be even close to the 700hp Shelby, or even their 575hp option, but with the torque figures, it’s a different story. It seems hard to believe, but this twin-turbo V6 has significantly more torque on hand than any of the V8 powered Raptors before it, supercharged or not. And as any true off-roader will tell you, torque is very important when it comes to off-road performance.

While there are many other improvements applied to this new Shelby Raptor, the last one I wanted to mention was the suspension upgrades. Because after all, having all the horsepower and torque in the world doesn’t do you a bit of good if the rest of the truck can’t handle it, especially in the brutal conditions Raptors thrive in. Worry not, Shelby has you covered here too. They teamed up with Fox Racing to develop a new stage 2 shock system that uses upgraded 3-inch fully adjustable internal bypass coil-overs up front and 3-inch external bypass adjustable shocks out back. The best part is, you won’t need tools to adjust them either. Instead, you’ll just need to turn a knob on the external reservoir which should make it easy to fine tune to match the terrain you’re dominating at the time.

Photo: autoweek

Having that much fun in a machine like the Shelby Raptor is going to come with a price, a hefty one at that. If you already own the gen 2 Raptor, Shelby American offers the conversion kit installed for just over $49,000, which would bring the combined price to approximately $117,000. And that’s assuming you paid the MSRP without any ridiculous dealer markup fees.

I love the Ford Raptor and everything it represents, you might even call me a fanboy in a sense. Which I must say is somewhat hard for me to openly admit because I’ve never been a Ford guy. But I’ll never forget the first time a dear friend of mine took me for a ride and I looked over and saw upwards of 90mph on the speedometer as we rapidly approached a dried up creek bed that would require most trucks to slow to a crawl. We were on an old desert trail so it was rough enough as it was, so I was already in utter disbelief at how the truck was able to handle this road at speeds double what your average truck could do without literally shaking to pieces. As we barreled along towards this creek bed I remember thinking “oh shit” as I prepared for him to jump on the brakes. But to my surprise, he hammered down on the throttle and the damn truck just took it. Granted we ended up bottoming out the suspension and “bucking bronco’d” the back end to where it was well off the ground. But the truck took it like an absolute champ as we continued on for miles and miles of the same. Then to seal the deal, as we finish and pull back onto the pavement the Raptor felt like a Cadillac as we drove down the highway. I was quite literally a life-changing experience, I was sold on the Raptor and I have been ever since.

So while $117,000 seems like an obnoxious amount of money to pay for a truck, if it’ll put a smile on your face and have the potential to change your life almost every time you get behind the wheel, isn’t it worth it?

Photo: shelby
Photo: shelby
Photo: shelby
Photo: autoweek
Photo: autoweek
Photo: autoweek
Photo: autoweek
Photo: autoweek
Photo: autoweek
Photo: autoweek
Photo: autoweek

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