There are trucks and then there are beasts. Most beasts get taller with lift kits. John Hennessey’s idea was to go long. Take an already wicked 2018 Ford F-150 Raptor and stretch it out with a third axle and two additional wheels.
The result, the 2018 Ford Velociraptor 6X6, was on display last week in the Shell Lubricants booth at the SEMA show (Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association) in Las Vegas.
And while a lift kit mostly boosts looks, Hennessey’s 6X6 Velociraptor is a serious honking machine.
The third axle is fully powered thanks to a custom pass-through differential at the middle axle and the leaf springs are moved forward to a center point between the two wheels to give you a rocking or bogie-like effect over rough terrain, the same as you’d find in the suspension of an articulated dump truck.
But this is no lumbering earthmover. The 605-horsepower/622 lb. ft. of torque torque machine sprints 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and stops on a sextet of Brembo six-piston calipers with 15.1 inch rotors. Price? Let’s just say around $350,000 depending on brakes.
Who might buy such a truck and what would they do with it? Hennessey figures the customers will use it like most Velociraptor owners use theirs. “It’s 80 percent for fun on the street and driving around and having something cool and comfortable to drive. And 20 percent will see more challenging action on the road, in the mountains, hunting, and in the desert and things like that,” he says.
Refresh in aluminum
Hennessey, the founder and CEO of Hennessey Performance in Houston, Texas, created the Velociraptor program back in 2010 and has built more than 1,000 of the 4X4 versions to date. “It became a very important part of our business,” he says.
When the new aluminum body Ford trucks came out, Hennessey decided he needed something to refresh the concept. Intrigued with the Mercedes Unimog and AMG 6X6, he took the idea of a stretched out 6X6 Velociraptor to his team and got an enthusiastic response.
“We got three orders immediately and this is the first of six,” says Hennessey. “We wanted an extreme concept to remind people that our Velociraptor brand was still around and that we did really cool stuff for the Raptors.”
No easy road
The project was not without challenges. “We looked at several different configurations on the suspension,” says Hennessey. “We knew we could stretch it, but we didn’t want to sacrifice the functionality of the suspension that the Ford guys had designed. And the pass-through axle, that was a huge challenge as well.”
Working with Ford’s aluminum body and bed panels also required that everything be TIG welded and riveted. “It was an incredible amount of work,” says Hennessey. “We build new tooling and molds for the rear quarter panels, but we wanted it to match the shape and look of the factory Raptor. Our design criteria for everything we build is that we would like people to look at our vehicles and think that it could have come from Ford that way. I really wanted a factory OEM look.”
The truck on display at SEMA belongs to a customer, so Hennessey is not going to road test or perform validation tests on it. “But so far, going over some berms and ditches, it’s pretty amazing how the rear suspension will articulate and move like the factory Raptor,” says Hennessey. “And with the third axle you have another axle and two more tires for traction. There are not very many places where a factory Raptor can get stuck but this one is definitely not going to have that issue.”
As far as towing and bed capacity, no numbers on those either. “I’m guessing that with the additional axle it can probably handle a lot more,” Hennessey says. But I don’t want to be on the hook for saying any particular numbers until we’re able to test that.”
Fear not, though. If hauling’s your thing Hennessey is working on truck based on an F-250 platform and a Powerstroke diesel. So when somebody says I want to tow, that would be my recommendation, a 6X6 based off a 250 Powerstroke instead of the Raptor,” Hennessey says.