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Raptor Rapture: Ford Reportedly Working up Mustang Rally Car

Automakers and auto buyers alike seem fixated on adding off-road capabilities to just about every new vehicle. And, so, it probably should come as no surprise to hear that Ford is working up a Raptor version of the Mustang.

2026 Ford Mustang Raptor from Car and Driver
Everything’s a rally car now, including the Ford Mustang Raptor. Car and Driver says one is coming for the 2026 model year — and it even has a rendering. (Photo credit: Car and Driver)

The Detroit-area automaker has been slapping the Raptor badge on a broad range of its light truck models, including the Bronco SUV, as well as its F-150 and Ranger pickups. It’s about to launch a Tremor edition of the compact Maverick, with rumors that a Raptor will follow there, as well.

But the idea of turning out a Mustang Raptor might come as a shock. Yet that’s what Car & Driver is reporting in its May issue. “Deep within Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, there’s a mindset to Raptorize everything,” the magazine said.

The very idea of turning out a rally-ready Mustang might have seemed sacrilegious only a few years ago. But, certainly, less so since the launch of the Mustang Mach-E. The all-electric model has been a solid hit for Ford. With a planned increase in production capacity the battery-powered crossover is expected to handily outsell the traditional pony coupe this year.

Big seller

While Ford this month confirmed that Mustang remains the world’s best-seller in its class, demand continues to shrink. It could use some new variants, beyond the fast, faster, fastest approach it’s traditionally taken with models like the Mustang GT and Shelby GT 500.

Ford Mustang GBr rally car from Gran Tursimo
Plenty of folks have wanted Mustang rally car. In fact, Gran Tursimo players have been building them for a few years now.

And it only has to look over to Europe to see the strategy just might work. Porsche delivered a serious surprise when it unleashed the rally-ready 911 Dakar earlier this year. And Lamborghini pushed into even more exotic territory with the Huracan Sterrato.

Industry analysts say there’s been a big boom in demand for off-road-ready vehicles since the COVID pandemic struck. During lockdowns, many motorists simply took to the back roads and trails to avoid having to stay stuck at home.

We’ve seen a variety of new off-road sub-brands debut, Subaru introducing its latest offering, the Crosstrek Wilderness, at the New York International Auto Show earlier this month. Toyota has added the Sienna Woodland Edition, and Honda has upgraded the latest version of its Pilot.

But Ford is expected to take things to extremes with the Mustang Raptor, in line with the capabilities of the rest of the Raptor line-up.

What to expect

Porsche 911 Dakar driving side REL
Buyers can get the limited-edition 911 Dakar model in a replica of the 1984 livery that won the Paris-Dakar Rallye.

According to sources cited by Car & Driver, the trailblazing pony car will get a 500-horsepower V-8, albeit without a manual option. Nor will it feature a two-speed transfer case. With the limited space available under the load floor, the Mustang Raptor reportedly will have to settle for pushing power through a 10-speed automatic to all four wheels, with a center differential helping to deliver torque where needed.

The appearance of the ‘Stang will be beefed up, of course. Some prototypes have been spotted running around Michigan with splined front wheel hubs, for example. The magazine’s renderings add blazing off-road lighting above the windshield and, as one would expect of a Raptor, there’ll be new skid plates and all-terrain tires. The Mustang Raptor reportedly also will get a 2-inch lift over the current model thanks to new Fox Live Valve shocks and springs.

Ford insiders aren’t ready to talk about a Mustang Raptor. But C/D is reporting the automaker is already working up an even more radical version, a Mustang Raptor R which could take the pony count to an even more outrageous 700, using a supercharged 5.2-liter V-8. That would surpass even the 602-hp Lamborghini Huracan Serrato.

When might we see the initial Mustang Raptor?

The seventh-generation pony car is only now getting ready to roll into U.S. showrooms. And we’ll see the usual assortment of variants, like the next-gen Shelby GT line, follow. The Mustang Raptor might not make it into production until late 2025 as a 2026 model. And don’t expect it to come cheap, with a forecast price tag in excess of $90,000.

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