What the Heck Is This Funky Ford F-150 Raptor Test Mule?

Photo credit: Brian Williams - Car and DriverPhoto credit: Brian Williams - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Brian Williams – Car and Driver

From Car and Driver

  • Our spies have spotted a short-bed, regular-cab version of the Ford F-150 Raptor testing; a configuration that currently doesn’t exist.
  • Riding on a full-size F-150 chassis rather than that of the next-gen, mid-size Ford Ranger on which the Bronco is based, this could be an unannounced, full-size “Daddy Bronco.”

While we and the entire truck-loving world wait with bated breath for a glimpse of the next-generation Ford Bronco, it only takes a camouflaged prototype or this unfamiliar-looking Ford F-150 Raptor test mule to stir up a speculation frenzy.

Photo credit: Brian Williams - Car and DriverPhoto credit: Brian Williams - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Brian Williams – Car and Driver

As soon as we spotted this regular-cab, short-bed pickup truck sporting the Raptor’s unmistakable wide body and oversized wheels and tires, we knew something was amiss: Not only since the current Raptor is only available with an extended SuperCab or the four-door SuperCrew but because Ford doesn’t make any F-150 in this configuration. This makes the odds of Ford building this version of the Raptor about as good as those of Carroll Shelby himself rising from the dead and building another souped-up Mustang, that means this has to be a full-size Bronco test mule, right? Hold your horses.

We know that the upcoming Bronco will share a platform with the next-generation Ford Ranger, which will ride on a smaller chassis than the full-size frame that underpins this test mule. And we know that the upcoming “Baby Bronco” shares a platform with the Escape. But until this spy shot, there hasn’t been a peep about a big Bronco.

While this isn’t out of the question — in fact it’s a theory our sister publication Road & Track subscribes to– we, sadly, believe this undisguised Frankenstein Ford is more than likely just a test bed for future company components or a push-truck for the proving grounds cobbled together by engineers over time. Not only is this shockingly un-disguised, but if you look close, it also lacks a roll bar/connecting element between the cab and the bed to simulate structural pathways through a not-two-door-pickup-cab-body that SUV mules usually sport. Sad trombone.

Photo credit: Brian Williams - Car and DriverPhoto credit: Brian Williams - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Brian Williams – Car and Driver

Even if this isn’t the big-bad Bronco we’re all excited about (prove us wrong, Ford) at the very least, these images provide Raptor fans with an un-Photoshopped look at what a regular-cab version could be. Or maybe there’s more to this cobbled-together pickup truck than meets the eye. Fascinatingly, this mule creates more questions than answers.

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