Make Mine Red: KP Motorsports Elevates The First-Gen Ford Raptor

Mark Garlock is a selfless person. He loves to work hard and play hard. His chosen profession puts him in places that most would never dare to go. Mark’s motivation for fun led him to the purchase of his 2011 first-generation Ford Raptor, and to KP Motorsport.

Keith Podulan is the owner and lead fabricator for KP Motorsports. He explained that, “Mark initially purchased a cantilever suspension kit from Rogue Racing and needed someone to install it. The first call from Mark said that he wanted to do a shock upgrade. He also needed someone to put it on. I said sure. Then the truck showed up and I thought, wow, you didn’t say cantilever! I knew as soon as I saw the truck, I was in. Weird, unique stuff is what I like to do here. It’s really about the challenge.”

Mark admits that the build kind of spiraled. He explained, “When I began purchasing the suspension parts, I never intended or even thought this project would get as involved as it has. It took on a life of its own once started and couldn’t be stopped.” Not that the spiral will in any way derail Mark’s enthusiasm for the project. He shared that, “It’s important to me for the fact that another like it will never be made again.”

A Big Commitment

All of these upgrades have taken a lot of work and time. Keith stated, “I’ve had the Raptor for two years and he’s only seen it once last June. He was home for a few weeks and then he went back. We communicate via the web on a regular basis. I keep him up to date on everything that is going on. There are a lot of pictures, ideas, drawings, and whatever sent back and forth.” Mark said that, “KP Motorsports has been great. Keith and I text a lot and he has sent me hundreds of photos from this project.”

Keith is obviously very proud of the finished product. He said, “The truck is done the way that I think Ford should have done it. There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into this one.”

“Mark has been open to any and all suggestions and has been fantastic to work with,” he continued. “The trust he’s put into me with this truck has been fantastic. I built this Raptor as though it were going to be my own personal truck for the rest of my life.” All of these details and more add up to a fantastic ride.

You have to look around this Raptor more the once to see all the details that have been added. "There are things that have been incorporated into this build that people will never see," commented Keith. "Things like safety wire and special clips that prevent chafing or premature failure.”

Pretty Outside And In

Most people familiar with the Ford Raptor will also recognize the paint color. The factory Molten Orange has been retained. The edges of the aftermarket fenders were painted to simulate factory flares. Keith feels this was an essential choice to help the truck stand out from the standard F-150 conversion crowd, as well as other Raptors.

Speaking of the fenders, they are one-piece SDHQ fiberglass units. SDHQ fiberglass bedsides were also utilized as well as SDHQ inner fender wells. A Rogue Racing Renegade Enforcer front bumper and SVC Baja V3 rear bumper complete the desert-ready look.

For night runs, a set of Baja Designs A-pillar lights have been placed in front of the windshield. These are in addition to an OnX6 Dual Control amber white LED light bar. An additional set of Baja Designs XL80 lights are also on tap. At the back of the cab, there is a slick GJ Motorsports third brake light.

We Have The Power

Under the hood is a lot of magic. Starting things out is a CBR off-road oil cooler. It’s there to keep the Livernois Motorsports cylinder head port and cam package running cool as a cucumber. A Livernois Motorsports billet oil pump and tuner are also utilized. NGK 6510 Iridium IX Spark Plugs and Granatelli RED ignition wires and coil pack handle spark.

A Lee power steering upgrade kit prevents the dreaded whining from a blown power steering system. Mark and Keith chose a CBR radiator to keep the motor running cool. Keith also upgraded the Raptor with an LVJ Motorsports auxiliary wire harnesses. A closer look revealed use of POR-15 rust preventive coating in semi-gloss black in various places on the truck.

Fluids are one of the most overlooked items on many builds. Not so for the KP Motorsports projects. AMSOIL DOT 3 and DOT 4 synthetic brake fluid ensure that the stoppers get everything they need to bring this big rig down from high speeds. Keith also uses high quality Swepco 715 power steering fluid to keep things turning nicely. Under the motor, a DEI Versa-Shield starter heat shield keeps cranking a non-issue. A set of Stainless Works headers takes the unneeded gases to a Stainless Works three inch dual dump style exhaust.

Inside Out

The interior of the Raptor sees appearances by some of the best manufacturers in the off road market. An Evil Off-Road navigation mount houses the massive Lowrance HDS-12 GPS unit. Keen eyes will also spot a host of upgrades from Switch Pros. There is an SP-9100 switch panel, Bluetooth power system, horizontal switch, and flush bezel mount, all from Switch Pros.

The interior of the Raptor hosts many upgrades.

In addition to all of those goodies, Keith shared that this truck will have one of the first slap shifters installed on a Raptor. It will work like a sequential shift.

While the inside and outside features make this truck look sweet, the real standout components are underneath. As previously mentioned, Mark showed up to KP Motorsports with a Rogue cantilever rear suspension kit. This type of change in suspension system requires a whole host of changes to the truck.

What’s Underneath

An emphasis on travel and shock absorption are primary with this kind of change. Proper installation is a must and requires just the kind of expertise that KP Motorsports has. A new shackle kit, sprung under flip brackets, and axle gussets were all sourced from Rogue. Rogue limiting straps and bump stop gusseting were used to make sure things don’t go too far.

King three-inch race series cantilever shocks with triple bypass are used to keep things groovy. King also handles the bump stop duties in the rear with a pair of two and a half inch piggyback bump stops. Keith went with Deaver leaf springs as an upgrade to the original Ford units.

In the front, King shocks once again got the nod. A pair of three-inch shocks in conjunction with three-inch coilovers handle the big hits. A Rogue HD tie rod steering kit mounted in double shear makes sure that nothing comes apart during hard runs. An upgraded Rogue sway bar is used to keep things kosher. Keith and Mark chose to upgrade the lower and upper control arms with Rogue components. SDHQ Quad Wrap limiting straps limit the complete suspension set up from overextension.

Some of the most annoying trail damage incidents common to the F-150 platform include damage to the vacuum systems or ABS sensors. KP Motorsports always recommends the installation of a guard to prevent this type of damage. To that end, SDHQ ABS and vacuum guards prevent just the sort of damage we just described.

Only the best components were used and that is evident in the choice of Yukon gears. They are rugged and have a great reputation for reliability. Both the front and rear of the Ford are equipped with 4.88:1 ratio gears. RCV‘s CV axles take the power to the wheels on the front end.


The ICON Rebound 17-inch rims have a pretty sweet titanium finish. They are wrapped with 37-inch Toyo Open Country tires. R1 Concepts' performance brake rotors and pads on all four corners handle-stopping responsibilities. In addition, all of the brake lines (including factory hard lines) have been rerun and extended.

Even the best drivers can get in a pickle. Just in case things get sticky, a Pro Eagle two-ton off-road jack is mounted in the bed. It is held in place by a Pro Eagle off-road jack mount. A close look in the bed also reveals H3R Performance HalGuard clean agent fire extinguishers, held in place by band clamps and a roll bar mount. A Snap-On tool kit sits integrated into the truck, with other assorted hand tools rounding out the preparations for a bad day.

At this point, the truck is at about 90 percent complete. There is also the chance that an interior cage may be in the works by the time you read this. Mark admitted that, “The plan as of now is to get it down to Baja and run it hard once everything is complete.” Mark has worked hard for this and he certainly deserves it. We hope to see him out hammering down and back soon.

About the author

Christie Materni

As a photographer, and self-proclaimed "magic maker" for over 12 years, Christie loves to create anything from amazing images to great chocolate chip cookies. Traveling the country with her camera, husband, and sometimes a dog, in search of fast cars and tough trucks is her favorite way to spend the day.
Read My Articles

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