The new Ford F-150 Raptor is out and it has at least one best-in-class feature. The giant optional 37-inch off-road tires are the largest-ever factory-installed tires on a light-duty truck. They may limit the suspension travel to 13.0 inches front and 14.1 in the back but offer monstrous ground clearance for a stock vehicle.
In fact, the chunky tires are so big, Ford couldn’t just put the 2021 Raptor on the existing F-150 production line without modifications. It turns out the hardcore truck was too tall to fit the factory and the automaker spent 15 months to find a solution.
"Getting it into the plant, that went on for 15 months to find the solution," Tony Greco, new Raptor program manager, told Road and Track in a recent interview. "Every single station, every single piece of equipment... We’d run a 2020 Raptor [through the factory] with foam blocks on top to simulate the height. Constant digital reviews with the manufacturing team... They took every down week in the summer and over Christmas trying to change the cycle line to make provisions for what was coming. In the end, we found a really clever way to execute it."
Equally significant changes were made to the truck itself to fit the new 37s. Ford completely redesigned the suspension on the new Raptor giving it coil springs for the first time in F-150 history and upgraded front and rear shock absorbers. Even the frame of the truck had to be modified in order to have enough room for a full-size 37-inch matching spare tire mounted under the cargo bed.
"The biggest thing is the stowing of the 37-inch spare,” Greco explained. “The frame that comes with the 37-inch configuration is unique to the 37-inch truck," Greco said. "A guy that gets a 35-inch-equipped truck and decides he wants to put on 37s, he’s never going to get a 37-inch spare underneath there."