Like many who hail from Southern California, Theresa Contreras grew up riding motorcycles and driving trucks in the desert. Every weekend was a family adventure, and aside from hanging out with family and friends, there was just something great about running fast and wild across the open desert terrain.
Contreras never lost that love of being out in the desert. She and her family continue to do so regularly. Contreras had been driving a tricked-out Ford F-250 SuperCrew. She needed the SuperCrew for the interior space it offered, as room for everyone was essential — she comes from a big family. However, she wanted a truck that could also be taken out on the trails (where all the fun is) and run hard, so when the 2011 Ford Raptor SuperCrew was introduced, she knew she had to have one.
That family of hers also happens to be the owners of LGE-CTS Motorsports in San Dimas, California, so not only is driving off road a big part of her life, it seems that creating custom trucks is literally in her blood. When taken together, it meant the Raptor wouldn’t stay stock for too long.
When we say that Contreras likes to drive off road, we mean that she likes to go fast off road. That’s why she got the Raptor in the first place. So the first place she headed was to Whipple Industries, where her Raptor was used in prototyping the supercharger system for the 6.2-liter V8. Producing 8.8psi of boost, the new supercharger ups the power output to a healthy 635 HP; which is plenty to get up and over the biggest sand hills.
Contreras loved the rough and mean look of the Raptor, but thought that something was missing. In her own words, she wanted to “further enhance the look of her Raptor, but didn’t want the truck to look gaudy.”
Even while the truck was still at Whipple, Contreras was busy with a pen and paper. In fact, she designed the truck inside and out, and says she was influenced by everything from motocross fashion designs to her love of rat rods.
That may seem like a pretty wide variance, but it was what Contreras took from those two vastly different genres that is the key to this truck’s styling.
She wanted to give her new ride a little more flash on the outside, which is where the motocross look kicked in. The graphics feature grays that have been subtly blended in, while bold yellow stripes act to give the truck the feeling of motion even while its standing still. Exterior and interior highlights were given a distressed look through painting techniques, for which only PPG products were used.
While the Raptor was being painted, there was discussion around the LGE-CTS shop about how to improve the look, as well as the protection of the truck. Contreras had plans for the Raptor, and they didn’t include it just sitting and looking pretty.
She was building this truck to drive off road, and things (like scrapes from rocks and bushes) happen off road. The team decided that the bumpers were potentially a weak spot, and set about designing beefier units that would deflect problems away from the new paint.
The result was the Baja Forged brand of LGE-CTS Raptor protection, which includes not only bumpers, but side slider bars and even a bed cage. The front bumper, which is a pre-runner style, features an aluminum skid plate and a Rigid Industries 30-inch LED light bar. A winch-mount equipped unit is also available.
The LGE-CTS rear bumper and side bars provide good protection as well as much-needed steps for access to the cab and bed. In that bed is the bed cage, which also provides a secure mount for the spare tire and spaces for two 5-gallon jerry cans. Having spare tires and extra gas is a good idea when entering the badlands.
A little extra style doesn’t hurt either, so stainless steel LGE-CTS name plate covers also adorn the normally black FORD logo across the grille.
The Raptor comes from the factory fairly dirt-worthy, but Contreras figured that more is better when it comes to suspension, so she had ICON Vehicle Dynamics do its magic.
That came in the form of ICON’s uni-ball billet control arms and reservoir equipped 3.0 coil-over shocks, which together add suspension articulation and stability. After all, Contreras wanted to blast over the bumps, not just cruise. All of the suspension pieces were installed by LGE-CTS.
Contreras also used ICON’s power steering reservoir canister and power steering cooler, both of which are needed for hard off-road driving. But what about towing? That was another thing Contreras wanted to do with her Raptor, so a set of Atlas tow-and-ride rear leaf springs were added.
There’s plenty of things out in the dirt to make life miserable for your tires, that’s why Contreras added a set of 35×12.5-inch General Tire Grabbers. The cool Fuel 17×10-inch Trophy wheels were added because they’re, well … also cool!
Contreras’ design influence continued inside the Raptor, too. Although the upholstery work was done by Rogellos Upholstery, Contreras used grommets and different finishes to give the interior a raw, industrial look that turned the interior into something Mad Max would feel right at home in. She again used paint to distress various metal pieces, and like the exterior, it was she who applied the PPG paints.
A stereo upgrade was decided upon, as well. SSV Works installed the Scosche stereo, while a set of 6-inch EFX speakers pumps out the sound.
Don’t think for a moment that this Raptor only looks good and just sits around acting as a show piece. Contreras and her family use it quite often. It has seen action as a pre-runner for some friends prior to the SCORE San Felipe 250 off-road race, and attended various “Raptor Runs,” along with frequently hitting the deserts of Southern California for a weekend. Contreras says she is having the time of her life in the Raptor!
There is little doubt for dirt-inclined drivers that the Raptor has been a big success for Ford. It has off-road performance tied to aggressive looks, as-is from the factory. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon. Thanks to Theresa Contreras and the crew at LGE-CTS, we have just seen how.