The pickup truck that thinks it's a supercar

  • AFP
  • Updated: Apr 14, 2015 12:54 IST

The Shelby Baja 700 is based on the already agreeably aggressive Ford SVT Raptor pickup but whereas Ford's version develops 411hp this one, which is being limited to just 50 individually numbered examples, has over 700hp on tap.

That's because Shelby American has fitted the 6.2-liter V8 with a 2.9-liter Whipple supercharger, ditched the standard exhaust, added new injectors and throttle bodies and crucially, a better heat exchanger.

The company, founded by the late great Carroll Shelby, has a habit of doing this sort of thing. Alongside its supercar-baiting pickup trucks it offers heavily overhauled 1000hp+ Mustangs and a host of other cars.

"The Shelby Baja 700 is striking in looks and most of all, its capabilities," said Vince LaViolette, Shelby American Senior Designer and Test Driver. "The off-road performance suspension system allows the Shelby Baja 700 to go most anywhere and stand out as it does so. We believe that we've built a truck with ultimate performance and off-road capabilities."

Taking what was conceived as an automotive beast of burden and endowing it with the sort of performance levels more commonly associated with exotic, usually Italian motoring marques may seem like a mild form of insanity.

But when one considers the limitations of a pure-blooded supercar, then maybe the Shelby Baja 700 isn't such an affront to common sense after all.

Supercars are so low to the ground they can't cope with a speed bump, a pothole or even the gradient of some off-ramps and car park entrances. Looking out of the rear window can be like looking through your letterbox and as for parallel parking, or finding somewhere for the shopping, or what to do in the event of a puncture, well...

The Baja can take all of these everyday obstacles in its stride and more. It can carry members of the family and even heavy pieces of furniture as well as the weekly groceries; and it doesn't constantly scream "look at me" everywhere it goes, even if Shelby has bestowed it with its signature racing stripes.

However, plant the accelerator and you'll unlock more horsepower than a a McLaren 650S, a Ferrari 488 GTB, a Lamborghini Huracán or pretty much any Porsche currently in production can offer. And it's considerably cheaper.

Once you've spent $45,000 buying a Raptor SVT from Ford, another $45,000 will cover the conversion costs.

And as well as more horsepower, better wheels and tires and an upgraded suspension system, the cabin of each Baja 700 also gets a leather-wrapped overhaul.

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