During the late 1800s, Larkins and Company built some of the finest hand-crafted vehicles, specifically wagons known as Doctor’s Phaetons. A Phaeton is a small horse-drawn carriage that has a light body and four large wheels. Because doctors made house calls then, and they needed a quick and lightweight vehicle to get them to their patients, the Phaeton was a perfect vehicle.
Almost 150 years later, the same can be said about Skyler Salmasi’s 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, a purpose-built truck designed to be fast and lightweight. Texas-native Salmasi, earned her Nurse Practitioner’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, in 2008, and went on to receive her doctorate in Nursing Practice in 2012 from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.
Salmasi is a nurse, a wife, a mom and a full-time truck enthusiast. “I have been into trucks since I was 14. I live off-road in a very rural area, and I have always been obsessed with anything with wheels.” She bought the truck in November 2012 and drove it as is for over a year.
She told us, “Living in a small town, there were two black raptors, and I wanted something different, something aggressive. I wanted to make a statement when driving to work. Also, I wanted a truck that I could have fun with off road! This truck is my daily driver, and it has more than 33,000 miles on it already; it needed to be functional as a daily driver and as an off-road beast.”
She found different and aggressive in the form of a picture found on Texas Motorworx’s (TMX) website of a lifted Raptor with 37-inch tires. “In the beginning, I just wanted wheels,” Salmasi jokes. “I decided that I needed 37-inch tires,” but Jason at TMX was an excellent advisor, frequently reminding her of the difference between want and need. She adds, “It is excellent to have a relationship with a company that is always looking out for what’s best for the customer.”
How It All Got Started
During her first meeting with Jason at TMX, he asked what she wanted to do with the truck, a nice way of surmising if she was a street queen or if she had plans of hitting the dirt. From the enthusiasm she gained reading the Ford Raptor forums North Texas Raptor Owners (NiTRO) and Houston Area Raptor Owners (HARO), as well as what she wanted to do at the then upcoming 2012 Texas Raptor Run (formed in 2012, its goal is to give Raptor owners a safe place to use their trucks off road), Salmasi responded, “I want to take it off road and jump it!”
Because of time constraints with the Raptor Run almost upon them, they focused on what was necessary first to make it function well off road. They decided after this initial event was done and under her belt, they would finalize the remaining modifications on Salmasi’s wish list.
The tuxedo-black truck was in perfect condition, and the first order of business was to keep it that way. It features a Raptor Performance Group (RPG) Stage 4 suspension system with air bump stops. The rear frame is cross-braced for support and greater strength. FOX 3.0 coilovers work the front and rear end, and a set of Deaver +2 springs help the rear end as well. A set of custom traction/support bars designed by Texas Auto Gear in Magnolia round out the suspension.
After adding the 37-inch Toyo Open Country M/T tires mated to the 17-inch Method Mesh wheels (complete with powdercoated lugs and custom CNC center caps), the Raptor needed wider fenders to accommodate the extra girth. Glassworks Unlimited front fender flares were installed to cover the tires.
Along with the RPG Raceline bumper, the two-inch-wide flare and rise of the new flares completely changed the overall stance and appearance of the Raptor, giving it the very aggressive look Salmasi wanted from the beginning.
Further beefing up the front end is a customized RPG bumper, a Blackhawk 20-inch LED light bar in the new Raceline bumper (frame horns were trimmed), a Blackhawk 40-inch LED light bar behind the matte-black-painted grill, and a Black Knight Lighting multicolored LED strip in the grill itself (think K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider).
With the exterior looking ready for the trails, attention turned to under the hood by adding some extra energy to the 6.2-liter stock V8. A 2.9L Whipple supercharger allowed the engine to breath in more air, while a Whipple oversized dual-fan heat exchanger kept everything cool. The end result is a whopping 600 hp!
Spent gasses travel through Stainless Works long-tube headers and exit the Roush exhaust system and Magnaflow muffler. Power transfers through the stock six-speed automatic and beefy Axle Exchange aluminum driveshaft.
To protect all of these expensive and necessary additions to the underside, an RPG Raceline skid plate was bolted on and painted by Salmasi herself with black spray paint (for easy future touch-ups).
The engine benefited from a new 47-pound EV6 injectors and NGK 6510 sparkplugs, all brought into concert with one another with a Lund Racing EFI tune, installed by G-Force MotorSports in Pearland, Texas.
Though the cab stayed mostly original, Salmasi swapped out the factory interior and cargo lighting systems with LEDs that cast a purple glow, and added an Alpine rear video entertainment system for those long drives as well as a JBL Audio C3-570 speakers wired in front to the stock head unit.
Texas Motorsports (TMX) directed and performed much of the build process. However, there were a number of others that contributed to the finished product. Raptor Performance Group (RPG) performed some custom work on the front bumper, Solutions Automotive in McKinney helped with maintenance when needed, and G-force Motorsports in Houston delivered when it came to performance advice.
As to future mods for the Ford Raptor, “The truck is an ongoing project right now, and I am pleased with everything so far,” said Salmasi. “I am currently in the planning stage of designing a rear bumper because I haven’t found one I love yet!”
Like any good truck build, it’s a never ending process. For more of Salmasi’s truck, check out her YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/skylersalmasi.