The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is one of those rare, once-in-a-decade vehicles that stands out above the crowd, and has almost universal appeal among truck enthusiasts, even those who aren't usually fans of the Blue Oval. Straight off the assembly line, it's one capable truck, worthy of its bird-of-prey moniker. So it was only fitting that Microsoft would select it for its grand prize for the Halo 4 Infinity Challenge online gaming contest.
Gaming geeks reading this story may note the Raptor is not actually in the game, which is set in the year 2557, and features a vehicle called the Warthog. Although a full-scale model of the Warthog was shown at the E3 2012 gaming conference in Los Angeles, it's unknown if the scale model is actually functional and driveable. Even if it were, there isn't exactly a friendly Warthog dealer on every corner for service. So the Raptor is a suitable stand-in for the futuristic space buggy.
We received a special invitation from Ford to preview and actually drive the grand-prize truck for the Halo 4 Infinity Challenge. The construction and customization of the truck is by Galpin Auto Sports in the Los Angeles district of North Hills in the San Fernando Valley. You may be familiar with the company's work through MTV's "Pimp My Ride" show.
Vinyl wrapping has become a common trend in automotive customization for its relative affordability and ease of installation, and at first glance, it appeared the special-edition truck got a whole-body two-tone green wrap. GAS project manager Michael MacKellar was quick to point out "It's NOT a wrap. It's a full custom paint job." Making the project even more challenging is that the base vehicle was painted white. While that may seem an ideal starting point for a custom paint job, MacKellar said the project team was hoping for a black truck, since the paint scheme was darker, and a black truck would not require the painting of the firewall, and other hidden areas. The unprecedented popularity of the Raptor made acquiring a black specimen within the specified timeframe out of the question.
But in a testament to the attention of detail GAS puts into its projects, MacKellar made sure to point out that the team painted the firewall as well, not to give a jarring white shock to whoever opens the hood to admire the added power from the Whipple supercharger system. Combined with the Magnaflow exhaust, total power output is estimated at 550 hp. We can attest from a brief romp on the 405 freeway that this brute has no trouble getting out of its own way, accompanied by the distinctive mechanical whine of the Whipple twin-screw compressor, which you can see (and hear) on Truck Trend's Facebook page.
Of course, a truck custom-built for a gaming contest had better have the goods in the entertainment department, and naturally, the truck features an Xbox that can feed a video signal to all four monitors in the cab. When in park, the gameplay can also be displayed on the dashboard touchscreen. The other monitors are in the front-seat headrests, and another roof-mounted 10-inch flip-down monitor. The seats were all reupholstered with green neoprene inserts and embroidered with the Halo 4 logo. The two front doors as well as the rear Pace-Edwards power roll-top tonneau received the UNSC logo, and the xBox system also getting a green illuminated UNSC enclosure under the rear seat. Adding an additional rugged flair to the truck is Line-X textured spray coating on the hood accents, front and rear bumpers, and fender flares.
The suspension didn't receive any major modifications other than leveling the ride height with an adjustment to the front suspension. Nitto Mud Grappler tires mounted on 17-inch Ford Racing beadlock wheels round out the rolling stock. While the tires do give an appropriately aggressive look to the truck, they also make a persistent roar on the highway. But considering most of your game playing is going to be done while the truck is parked, this will probably be a non-issue to the winner.
As you're reading this, the grand-prize winner has already been determined and most likely notified, so, sorry, this fantasy truck is already spoken for, with the contest ending January 19, 2013. The top players have until February 28 to respond to a message on their Xbox to claim the prize.