Mike Harrison’s enthusiasm for V-8 engines is apparent. Harrison, Ford Motor Company’s premium V-8 systems manager, is particularly excited about the availability of the new 6.2-liter V-8 that will power the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.

Producing an estimated 400 horsepower and 400 ft.-lb. of torque, Harrison rattles off the new engine’s components and features quickly and easily, pointing them out and explaining them with more than a trace of pride.

Harrison wants that engine to perform to its maximum capabilities so that customers of the F-150 SVT Raptor won’t have anything to worry about. In short, if the engine can withstand the rigorous testing Ford demands during the development cycle, it can withstand almost anything the most enthusiastic off-roader can dish out, even desert racers.

The testing is intense. It’s cruel, dusty and dirty. By working in the lab to push the engine to its limits, the process simulates how a customer would use the engine. But then it goes a little bit further.

“Running it over 6,000 rpm for more than 150 hours, which is over the peak power limit of the engine, really puts it through its paces,” Harrison said. “We’ve tested it in harsher operating conditions on the engine dyno than would ever be seen by a customer who races.”

Beginning in fall 2006, Harrison and his team tested more than 50 engines, with each running through a dozen separate tests. Evaluations included high-speed durability, crank-torsional testing, aeration and a thermal cycle where the engine is “shocked” from one temperature extreme to another.

As with all Ford programs, attention to detail was a hallmark of the testing process.

“We did a careful teardown of each engine at completion of testing to ensure there absolutely are no issues with the hardware,” Harrison said. “These are very demanding, very stringent tests – far more stringent than anything you would see on a truck – racing or otherwise.”

Testing in the heat

Besides dyno testing, the engine was put to the test in its element – the desert of Borrego Springs, Calif. Important factors such as engine cooling were evaluated on the 62-mile test loop designed by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT).

Engine cooling is key on Raptor – when the truck is in a desert environment, the hot weather and deep sand put a heavy load on the vehicle, and the engine has to exert maximum power to keep it going through deep sand.

There also is less airflow through the radiator at low speeds, and a large and effective cooling system is required for this extreme environment. To improve airflow to the engine, grille openings were increased by 20 percent.

“We spent a lot of time developing our desert durability test so that it’s very close to replicating the Baja 1000,” said Kerry Baldori, SVT chief functional engineer. “Desert testing proved to be a very quick way to learn about the reliability of the truck and it put another level of extreme loads on the engine that our normal durability testing doesn’t cover.”

Text and Pictures: Ford