Ford F-22 Raptor. Photos courtesy EAA.
Since 2008, Ford has supported the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Gathering of Eagles in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, by donating a customized, aviation-themed Mustang to auction in support of youth programs. For 2017, Ford is once again backing the EAA, but this year the Mustang has been replaced by a modified 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor pickup, styled by Ford’s Melvin Betancourt and team with a nod towards Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor fighter.
Like its aircraft namesake, Ford’s Raptor is all-weather capable, offering up remarkable performance even in unmodified form. As with the Mustangs supplied by Ford for past EAA auctions, stock is not an option: The twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 in the current Raptor produces 450 horsepower, but the F-22 Raptor donated to the EAA has been modified by Ford Performance to deliver an impressive 545 horsepower.
Where does the extra 95 horsepower come from? Ford is a bit vague on the answer, saying only that a Whipple Mega Cooler intercooler is part of the package. An intercooler will certainly help the production of additional power, but we suspect that a low restriction intake and exhaust, along with ECU modifications, are all integral to the build. We’ve reached out to Ford for clarification, but have not yet received a response to our questions.
Outside, the black-with-red graphics and bas relief of the F-22 in the grille are subtle touches, but the rooftop light bar, bead lock wheels and bed-mounted spare tires are anything but. Brakes and suspension components are upgraded, too, while the cabin receives a few (unspecified) enhancements and a premium audio system. It isn’t likely the winning bidder will take the one-of-one truck to the ends of the earth, but as built, it’s almost certainly capable of getting there – and back – with all due haste.
Past EAA builds from Ford, all based upon the Mustang, have honored the P51 “Ole Yeller” in 2016; the Apollo program in 2015; the F-35 Lightning II fighter in 2014; the USAF’s Thunderbirds in 2013; the Tuskegee Airmen “Red Tails” in 2012; the Navy’s Blue Angels in 2011; the SR-71 Blackbird in 2010; the fighter-inspired AV-X10 “Dearborn Doll” in 2009; and the F-22 (for the first time) with the AV8R, which kicked off the program in 2008.
Combined, the auctions have raised over $3,000,000 for EAA’s youth programs, with the AV8R Mustang reaching $500,000 itself. Last year’s “Ole Yeller” Mustang, which paid tribute to the legendary P51 racer flown by Robert A. “Bob” Hoover, sold for $295,000, which should give an idea of the minimum amount needed to take home this year’s Raptor.
The auction takes place on Thursday, July 27, and bidders must be present at the Gathering of Eagles or registered in advance for phone bidders. For additional information, or to register as a phone bidder, visit EAA.org.