2018 Shelby Baja Raptor

2018 Shelby Baja Raptor

Last Updated August 8, 2023 | Meghan Drummond

It’s hard to imagine someone looking at the Ford F-150 Raptor and thinking “couldn’t it be more powerful though?” but it’s hardly out character for Shelby-American, a company that’s always excelled at making powerful cars even bigger and faster.

And so, the 2018 Shelby Baja Raptor came to exist. While a regular Raptor will cost you $68,165, giving it the full Shelby treatment brings the total up to $117,460, a princely sum for a truck they believe is king of the off-road.

If you purchased a 2017 F-150 Raptor and are disappointed you didn’t get the option to Shelby-fy it, you can get a conversion from Shelby-American for $49,295.

Front view of a blue Shelby Raptor in the desert

Shelby Raptor Exterior Modifications

Shelby modifications have never been particularly subtle, and that’s still true. The flat black steel front bumper is proudly emblazoned with the Shelby name, above which is a 40” curved LED light bar. Even in the dark, you’ll know that Shelby manufactured this off-road monster.

The ram air hood has the customary black stripes, but because it’s an off-road vehicle instead of a Mustang we’re referring to them as “Baja” stripes vs “Le Mans” stripes, but even a true Shelby fanatic would have a difficult time telling the difference.

There are no shortage of lights, all of which are LED and look pretty slick against the flat back metal accents that are on both the front and rear bumpers.

The side panels between the cab and bed are also emblazoned with the Shelby Baja Raptor logo (which is a mouthful). You’ll also find it above the fender flares on either side and across the truck’s gate. In short, Shelby is proud of this truck and they want to make sure that you know who outfitted it.

Grey Shelby Raptor in the snow

Shelby Baja Raptor Interior Changes

When compared to the standard F-150 Raptor package, the Shelby Raptor doesn’t offer a lot of additional interior upgrades, which makes sense. There wasn’t really a whole lot to improve on. The Raptor, either Ford’s or Shelby’s, has heated and cooled leather seats. On Ford’s the accenting color will be orange, whereas on Shelby’s, it’ll be a bright red, which matches the Shelby Baja Raptor badging that is on each seat.

Shelby also replaced the utilitarian floor mats with some that are special for the Shelby Raptor and are significantly more luxe looking. There are also carbon fiber inserts, which are attractive even if they don’t actually add a lot of functionality. Naturally, there’s the customary Shelby serial plate on the glove box.

Black and red leather seats with Shelby Baja Raptor logo

Shelby Baja Raptor’s Engine Performance

This is where we actually start to see the Shelby-American influence on the Raptor. The engine has been outfitted with a cold air intake, which coupled with a high flow air filter and aluminum intercooler ensure that this engine can breathe. The cold air intake and air filter together make for a pretty imposing looking piece of equipment and is once again printed with the Shelby name to guarantee quality.

A heat shield helps to make sure that all the air the Shelby Raptor is pulling in is cool, dense air, which of course enhances performance. The end result is that the Raptor, which normally makes 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque, is ramped up to a whopping 525 horsepower and 610 lb-ft of torque. It’s a pretty substantial improvement. This may not sound imposing to people who are more accustomed to the Mustang’s horsepower numbers, but for an off-roading pickup, it’s a lot of horsepower.

The Raptor’s ten-speed automatic transmission isn’t altered in any way for the Shelby Raptor, which is a shame since it was one of the features that people were a little less than excited about in the Raptor. Car and Driver noted that the Raptor seemed to sometimes struggle to find the right gear. With paddle shifters, you can, of course, manipulate the gearing on your own.

A large cold air intake bolted to engine with Shelby logo

Shelby Raptor Suspension

The suspension upgrades are considered by many to be the most substantial and unique. Though the additional horsepower is nice, that can theoretically be added to any Raptor or F-150 with a cold air intake setup and tune. But the suspension features some high-grade materials that are wholly unique to this build.

Shelby and Fox Racing worked together to build a four-corner adjustable system. The front shocks are equipped with what’s known as internal bypass technology. Essentially, it detects the type of terrain that you’re on (whether that’s street or rock crawling).

The rear shocks have a similar technology, with a unique twist. They allow for “Quick Adjust Bypass” which essentially means that you can adjust the tubes by hand, without tools. The clicks should allow you to know what setting each is at, providing a simpler system of tracking what adjustments have been made. Honestly, even though people are a little shocked over the cost of the Shelby Raptor, equivalent shocks from Fox Racing go for around 3-4 thousand on their own. It’s a premium set up.

The suspension is undercoated, and then finished off with 18” Shelby Raptor Alloy Wheels and BFG KM2 tires.It comes with six wheels and tires total, with space to store the extra two in the bed of the truck.

Bright blue Shelby Raptor in desert, rear view

Overall, the Shelby Baja Raptor does the unlikely and improves the performance of the Raptor as well as increasing its off-roading capacity. Though some may lament the cost, and yes, you’re definitely paying a premium for the Shelby name, there are some legitimate upgrades here that have significant value and that aren’t inexpensive to replicate on your own.

Only 500 2018 Shelby Raptors will be produced, preserving their rarity. Of course, you can always modify your Raptor with parts from CJ’s to see your own performance bump.

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Sources: Shelby Raptor Brochure, Shelby American | The Shelby Baja Raptor is 525 HP of Hardcore Off-Road Madness, Road and Track | Shelby Ford F-250 Super Baja Shows What an HD Raptor Might Be Like, Car and Driver | 2018 Shelby Raptor Can Be Yours for $117,460, MotorTrend |Image Credit: Shelby American | Ford | Autoweek

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.