Home » Here’s What A Ford Mustang Raptor Would Look Like If Our Professional Designer Had His Druthers

Here’s What A Ford Mustang Raptor Would Look Like If Our Professional Designer Had His Druthers

Desiger Mustangraptor Top

You know what’s wrong with the 1968 Steve McQueen classic neo-noir “Bullitt“? For turtleneck aficionados like myself, absolutely nothing. Anybody who says otherwise can get in the sea. Back in 2010 I took my first solo road trip to the U.S. and decided I was going to rent a Mustang and spend a week in San Francisco, in part, to visit some of the locations where the movie had been filmed. The S197 II Mustang had just been released, but unluckily for me the one the rental counter supplied had the Cologne 4.0 V6 under the hood, gasping out a pathetic 210bhp; it’s a boat anchor of a motor, no bones about it. In a 1982 Capri 2.8i (one of my favorite ever cars) the Cologne makes 160bhp, so some back of a cigarette packet math tells me the Mustang should have had at least 230bhp; I don’t know where all those nags had all bolted to, but when you’re driving in San Francisco and all you can see out the windshield is sky, you need all the power you can get.

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Hills. San Francisco has all of them. The location of Frank Bullitt’s apartment is 1155 Taylor Street, smack in the middle of the Nob (heh) Hill district — one of the hilliest parts of a very hilly city. The Mustang wheezed its way up and down them for a few days, alternately extending my spine and then smashing it to powder. If Bullitt were remade now [gives Spielberg the side eye], what you’d want would be a Mustang with an abundance of both power and suspension travel. If only Ford had a precedent for taking one of its models, stuffing the hood with too much engine, and giving it suspension like a full size Tamiya RC car. They could even give it a name and logo like an awesome eighties hair metal band….

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The latest Raptor (pretty sure I saw them open for Thunder at the London Astoria in about ’91) is the 2023 Ranger Raptor. First there was the F-150, but since then we’ve also had the Bronco Raptor and there’s been a European version of the previous generation Ranger outside of the US since 2019. If the Focus wasn’t being killed there would probably have been a Raptor version of that as well. Raptor all the things! And why not? Jacked up road cars are all the vogue at the moment, darling. Home brew safari editions have been all over Instagram for years, and OEMs are getting in on that sweet raised ride height action (oh god I am so over lifted 911s, unlike Torch who was under one).

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So let’s design a Mustang Raptor. The beauty of all these Raptors is they require very little, if any changes to the sheet metal. The majority of the changes you are going to make come below anything body colored. It’s really a matter of coming up with some new cladding to toughen up the lower half and making sure the chunk-tastic tires don’t protrude past the wheel arches (which in my renders I ignored and we’re not having this argument again).


Trucks don’t have a wraparound bumper like a car, but I’ve given our Mustang Raptor a new front bumper. I think this is necessary for better cooling and a more aggressive appearance, but I wanted to make it menacing in a different way to the go-faster road based Mustangs. I just opened the whole thing right up and used the Bronco Raptor mesh pattern to fill out the hole.  In the middle there’s a simple bash plate with towing eyes, which I’ve tried to mount lower down to alleviate what I think is the biggest problem with the front of S650 – it’s monobrow. In the middle of the main grill I’ve slapped in the big FORD graphic which is a Raptor trademark.

Speaking of trademarks, a lot of designers sometime come up with a feature they are particularly pleased with and then try to use it when appropriate. I originally came up with spot lights on the hood as part of the power bulge for something I sketched up in the studio. My chief designer liked them because it avoided adding extra height onto an already tall vehicle. I’ve never been off roading but I understand more lights is better than less, so I’ve added a couple of additional light pods on the roof as well. Although I’ve sketched a separate pod for each half of the roof, this would probably all become one part attached onto the roof rails for production.

When you raise a car to go off road, as a consequence of lifting the whole thing up you’re making it much easier to see things like suspension arms, the rear axle and exhausts. Although you wouldn’t design any of these parts for aesthetics, what you can do is ‘tidy up’ the area visually. It may be something as simple as painting everything visible black so that area reads consistently.

Another trick is to try and cover up as much as possible, like how an engine cover makes the under hood area look nicer. With an off road vehicle it’s entirely appropriate to protect these areas so I’ve added a full width under shield finished in matt black. If we’re stuck with the standard exhaust then flattening off the tips might give an extra bit of ground clearance. Sometimes you’re fighting over millimeters so it all counts.


I was hoping to keep the standard rear bumper and cheat by covering it with cladding, but it looked a bit plain and as I was playing around with the towing hooks I realized that they sat much better visually in one wide cut out, rather than individual holes. The molding could still be the same though, just modify the bumper after it’s popped out so it doesn’t necessarily mean a completely new tool. Suppliers are very good at telling you what they can’t do – sometimes they need a bit of persuading.

A big part of the appeal of this sort of vehicle is it’s over the top appearance – not just stance and cladding but graphics. I originally went with a sort of orange color for the bodywork but it didn’t ‘pop’ enough in the renders so I changed it for blue, keeping the tow hooks orange as highlight color (blue and orange are complimentary in color theory, which is why you see this combination everywhere). Also David doesn’t want to be arsing about telling a no off-roading experience dipshit like me to where to hook a strap when he can just yell “ATTACH IT TO THE ORANGE THING” before the car sinks even deeper into the crap.

Finally I blacked out the rear panel because I prefer the way it looks, and added Raptor graphics to the bottom of the doors in the traditional Mustang stripe position. The scratch marks I debated over whether they worked or were too much, but when doing speculative stuff like this it’s better to start a bit over the top and wind it back, rather than going safe and then chucking stuff on trying to jazz it up.

Is this the next logical Raptor model for Ford to make? Or have I once again smashed your hopes like a rock through a sump pan, the hot oil leaking like tears down your cheeks? We’ve not done one of these for a while, so if it gets a bit bouncy down there in the comments, at least I’ve got the suspension travel to deal with it.


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60 Responses

  1. My dude, I kind of wish that you were in charge of Mustang design for Ford. Your Foxbody nostalgia throwback for the S650 was so good, and even though I want to hate this Raptor design with every fiber of my being, I can’t–it fucking rules. It fixes the majority of the issues I have with the S650 (though I still hate the flush, dented looking taillights–they look cheap), and it looks crazy fun to drive. I particularly love those extra lights on the hood and roof.

    Also, way to drop a photo in there of your rental pulled over by a cop and NOT tell the story there lol

    1. Ha! I didn’t want to get off track in the article. I was heading down PCH from SF to LA, and kinda got fed up sitting behind all the drag asses. So I jumped across to whatever the interstate is (101?) and hauled ass. I was doing about 90-95, came round a bend and saw him on the shoulder.

      Gave it the old ‘slow it down on the handbrake’ trick so there was no brake lights, but he was ON ME. I know it was only a Crown Vic but man those things must have mid-range torque. Pulls me over, he obviously knew it was a rental. I went full Hugh Grant daffy Englishman straight away: “oh I say I’m terribly sorry officer, I’m not used to driving on such good roads” etc etc. Looks at my licence, probably realises the paperwork is gonna be a ballache. Gives me a friendly talking to, and then I say “would you mind if I took a picture, my friends are going to love this” and he said yeah no problem.

      A picture for the ages.

      1. Yeah the crown vic is like that old guy you know who still goes to the gym a bunch and is really strong but doesn’t talk about it a lot and then you forget he can bench you

  2. The woeful and wholly unnecessary remake of The Thomas Crown Affair might just have pipped you to the post.
    It is to your credit that this film may have escaped your attention.

      1. The original is peak McQueen stylishness – persol sunglasses, dune buggies, gliders, a ton of swank suits plus cool sweaters/windbreakers, er, cheaters (for you).

        I’ve seen both the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow he drove as well as Faye Dunaway’s NART Spyder.

      2. Because I think way too damn much about stuff like this, I wondered a few years ago how to re-do Bullitt with more plot. In my head, I had George Clooney taking over the lead (looks decent in a turtleneck), and driving a dark green Mustang LX 5.0 notchback, set up for handling because he did SCCA on the weekends or something. Make the witness a potential — never realised because they actually really dislike each other — love interest, and build in more twists and non-automotive turns to make it more interesting.

        At the end, she testifies, thanks him for saving her life, and they go their separate ways — she into witness protection, he to the shop to fix his Mustang.

        The toughest part of tying this together is having a 5-speed Fox Body Mustang in San Francisco without him having a hugely overdeveloped clutch leg.

  3. If Subaru can find sales success lifting an Impreza and calling it a Crosstrek, it’s plausible a Mustang Raptor might sell, too. It’s within the realm of possibility if Ford has time on the assembly line.

    Like Drew mentioned elsewhere in comments, I really like creating a pod anchored to the roof rack for lighting. Adrian, this might be a patentable idea.

    1. Could adapt the lighting pods to a lot of different vehicles, too! going along with your correct assessment of the Crosstrek, I think people would love to throw something like these onto that.

  4. “Although I’ve sketched a separate pod for each half of the roof, this would probably all become one part attached onto the roof rails for production.”

    I really like the consideration of both what makes for a good concept and what makes production. Also, I am ready to see the Mustang Raptor start showing up in Ford advertising now.

    1. I was thinking how would these attach, and drilling holes in the roof and bolting through doesn’t.t seem optimal, so attaching to the roof rails (as it’s non-destructive) feels more logical (and quicker/cheaper). Therefore it’s needs to be all one piece to stay in place.

      1. Honestly, I didn’t like Airwolf till about the time “And They Are Us” and “To Snare a Wolf” aired. As a series it wasn’t all that well thought out.

        1. Airwolf was definitely flashier (and damn that opening credit sequence is amazing and pretty much sums up ’80s tech-action shows), but the tv show version of Blue Thunder was a lot more grounded and realistic. I mean as realistic as you can get with a show about a high-tech crimefighting helicopter of course.

          1. My “heirarchy” for that subgenre is BLUE THUNDER the movie, then the second season of AIRWOLF, then the BLUE THUNDER TV series, then the first and third seasons of AIRWOLF, then way at the bottom, the fourth (cable only) season of AIRWOLF.

          2. The Blue Thunder movie dealt explicitly with some worrisome limitations of military technology inappropriately employed in civil policing.
            The TV show? No worries at all: Full speed shead!

  5. Dear Adrian,

    Please do a lifted Mustang Ute next, please. So like this… only with a bed. And more lights. Lots of lights. Two big round ones in the grill. And a row of lights on a truck bed roll bar.

    Thank you times a million.

  6. Did you got in the little grocery store right across the street? It’s the same one Frank Bullitt shopped at, memorably stacking up all the tv dinners.

      1. Too bad. There are stills from the movie framed in there.

        As I’m sure you saw, the school with the metal fencing where McQueen hangs a hard left is still there and looks exactly the same.

  7. I expect a Mustang Raptor would replace the giant FORD letters on the grille with MUSTANG because if you’re going to whore out the name why not go all the way? 😛

  8. Nice job. It looks more like a Mustang than the Mock E. I know it’s fashionable to rag on Bullitt but thank goodness somebody said, “Mustang? Charger? Fun!” You, Frank Bullitt, Sterling Archer, and Ray Gillette know the need for a decent turtleneck in a gentleman’s wardrobe. Class.

    1. It’s a total hipster take to rag on Bullitt, because they’re all attention deficit kids. It was one of the first (if not THE first) movies to portray a police officer protagonist as an anti establishment anti-hero. It’s a neo-noir masterpiece.

      Cinematography, locations, , music, editing are all superb. The chase is just the cherry on the cake tbh, the movie would still hold up without it.

      1. Totally. The realism of it all (down to McQueen being sure to lock the doors on the Mustang when he parks it on the street) was pretty uncommon at the time, and there’s no big cinematic baddie at the end, just a low level mob guy trying to cover his tracks. Final scene at the mirror is high neo noir.

    1. I’m surprised I had to scroll this far down the comments to see this. In fact, the only reason they don’t look more similar is that Local Motors probably didn’t want to get sued by Ford for copying their design.

  9. If Dearborn doesn’t come knocking I know Mattel and Kyosho will.

    Because of the news about the Shelby Cammer Daytona Coupe, I’d been thinking again about the planned follow-up to that car, the Type 65, and the fact that the coachbuilders who worked on that one wanted to build Type 65 bodies for a Lincoln road version, that would sell in the States for homologation purposes. If you thought your garden variety 289 Cobra roadster wanted to kill you, try a wideboy, long wheelbase Daytona with a big MEL (MY ’66/’67) or Lima (MY ’68 onward) under the bonnet!

  10. Eh, it’s 21st century San Fran. It’ll be a Mach-E chasing a blacked-out Model S.

    That said, I want to see a Mach-R Raptor with the s/c 5.2L V8.

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