Project Avalanche: A More Capable Ford Raptor
Many people, like Chris Lopez, prefer to take the road less traveled. Driving on trails and challenging a vehicle to conquer rough terrain is a thing these enthusiasts do for fun. Early on, Chris dipped his toe into off-roading with ‘80s Toyota 4x4 pickups because they were a fairly cheap way to get into those types of activities. As Chris’ budget increased, he sought to get a better vehicle to go off-roading with. He upgraded to a Toyota Tundra and modified it with mid-length travel shocks and a minor lift.
This contentment lasted for a bit, until he got a taste of a Ford F150 Raptor. One of his friends had one, and took him for a ride—he was instantly hooked. Chris was immediately impressed with the capability of the truck and fell in love with the comfortable interior. He knew he had to get one and made sure it was in his favorite color for the truck, Avalanche gray. He found exactly what he wanted from a business on Instagram called @theraptorconnection. After connecting with the dealer, this ’17 Raptor was delivered to Chris’ home in Southern California, and he quickly sold his Tundra.
Beefing It Up
Though Raptors come off the showroom floor with a stout suspension system built to be more capable that standard F150s, there’s always room for improvement. After doing some research on upgrade kits, Chris decided to go with an Icon Vehicle Dynamics Stage 4 suspension kit. The front portion adds a beefier, replacement billet aluminum upper control arm and a 3.0 Series adjustable coil-over shock with remote reservoir to help prevent fatigue. Under the bed is a set of hydraulic bump stops with a bolt-on crossmember for added durability. Taking care of the rear is a new set of leaf springs and 3.0 Series 3-tube bypass shocks to dampen the ride.
Traversing Multiple Terrain
Because Chris uses this truck for commuting and off-road fun, he required a tire that could work well in both situations. Nitto’s Ridge Grappler tires are the perfect solution for anyone looking to handle multiple surfaces. The LT315/70R17 tires he chose have a quiet, yet superior ride quality while maintaining the ability to grip loose terrain with their aggressive tread pattern. The nearly 35-inch Ridge Grapplers were then mounted on a set of 17” Gear Off Road Black Hawk wheels. To bring these large rollers to a halt, the brakes were upgraded with EBC black BSD rotors and Orangestuff pads.
Surprisingly, Ford no longer offers an F150 Raptor with a traditional V8 and replaced it with an EcoBoost 3.5L six-cylinder engine. Though it made Ford fans question their brand loyalty, the increase of 39-horses gives this twin-turbo engine a total of 450-hp, which set them all straight. Again, there’s always room for improvement and Chris added a few pieces to help release some of the untapped potential of this truck.
Up front, the factory air intake system has been replaced by a performance version from K&N. This setup sports a reusable cotton air filter mounted inside a box to shield it from the heat. As cold air is drawn in, it then passes through the molded tube that was designed for higher volume of airflow. Expelling spent gasses on the back end is a Gibson Black Elite Super Truck Exhaust that was built for better flow while producing an improved tone.
Chris sought to add a few exterior pieces to make the truck more visually exciting. When he first hit up his contacts at RK Sport for a Ram Air hood, he soon discovered that they didn’t have anything for this particular truck. However, they were interested in making one and used his truck to prototype a fiberglass hood with a carbon fiber center. With the new look taking form, Chris continued the carbon fiber theme with a set of fender flares from C7 Carbon.
For improved appearance and function, Chris added an Icon Vehicle Dynamics Impact Series front bumper with skid plate, which flows great with the rest of the truck and protects it while having fun. In the bed is an Innovative Creations Chase Tire Rack that has gear from Bolt Lock to secure everything in place. For better visibility at night, a set of LEDs from FCK Lightbars and a pair of lighted Buggy Whips do the trick.
Though this truck is built to muscle through rugged places, Chris wanted to pilot this beast in comfort. The seats were reupholstered in luxurious Roadwire Leather. For extra bump in the music department, Chris had Automotive Entertainment of Huntington Beach, CA make a custom box for the four JL Audio subwoofers fed by a 1,500-watt amp. With the added electronics, an Odyssey battery now powers it all up. The last thing on the list was the DUB IR window tint that helps protect him and passengers from the sun’s harmful rays while keeping the cabin temperature down.
The Perfect Weekend Escape Vehicle
By trade, Chris is a Master Electrician and the job requires him to commute in the dreaded traffic in Southern California. Now that this truck has been improved, he can tolerate the drive and can head out to roads unpaved to clear his mind by having fun in the dirt, mud or snow.