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By Dave "Rockwizard" Baker

Coming soon to a 5+ trail near you!

An idea in itself is just an idea. An idea sketched on a piece of paper is the first step towards reality. In my case, it was many late nights and Waffle House napkins. "Hey Crystal, how 'bout another cup of coffee."

This will be the introduction to a series of articles based on the build-up of the XTV Raptor designed by XTV Engineering in Birmingham, Alabama. Editor's Note: For this first preview article, photos have been modified. Stay tuned in coming articles for more photos as the build-up progresses.

XTV - Xtreme Terrain Vehicle
Raptor - Latin, one who seizes. To seize. Bird of prey.
XTV Raptor - a purpose-built rock buggy designed with function, reliability and strength in mind. Simple and effective, the XTV Raptor is a lightweight powerful competitor built to strike and succeed.

RaptorA few years back, Soni Honegger introduced us to the now famous Scorpion. It was awesome! Never had we seen such a vehicle with all it's capabilities and functions. Like many, I was drawn to it. I would find myself in a semi-hypnotic state watching it crawl with ease over obstacles that most people dismissed as impossible. It was cool, but I couldn't afford one. I would lie awake at night with the idea of a new creation crawling and articulating over the ripples in my brain.

Since then, the Sniper had evolved. A pretty cool rig designed by Steve Rumore. It seems to be the more visible of the two and has had much success, but still way out of my price range. I wanted something that was as good or better than what was out there with a reasonable price tag. Nothing, na da, zilch! Hmm, guess we're going to have to build it!

RaptorThe first plans for a rock buggy obviously started in my head. It started simple, but like the true men that we are, it wasn't long before I wanted the biggest, baddest, best! "As good" would no longer do. I put the ideas on paper working from many different angles. I called on engineer friends to test the structural integrity of our chassis design. I put forth tremendous efforts to install only the best products offered in the four-wheel drive community. A huge power plant was the heart and soul of a fire-breathing beast that could out flex the best and hold together under fire. A newly designed custom suspension system never installed under a four-wheel drive vehicle was the legs that could not be swept. And the XTV Venom was created.

RaptorIt wasn't soon after the tabulation of expenses for this vehicle far exceeded that of anything on the market. It seemed that my partner and I got a little carried away. We tried for more than a year to get financing, but traditional institutions and rich "old" individuals could not understand our motives. This is what I learned: "Actions speak, promises suck, and a deal isn't a deal 'til the money changes hands!"

So, my partner and I continued to do what we do best. I build Jeeps and he builds rails. And for as long as I've known Mike, we've had an on-going argument as to which is the better of the two. Now I don't know when it happened, and I can't recall what the situation or conversation was. But somehow or another, we came across the idea of combining the best of both worlds. We took everything that was great about four-wheel drives and rails and put them together. It seemed kind of taboo at first, almost like picking your nose in traffic and getting caught or riding a moped and your friends finding out. But once put into action, the assets outweighed the liabilities.

RaptorThink about it, low to the ground with awesome clearance. Extremely light weight with better distribution. A strong engine putting the power to four wheels instead of two. An automatic transmission and planetary crawler system that would allow you to run the dunes at high speeds, or load up the very same vehicle and hit the rocks of Colorado or Utah cruising an impressive 11 feet per minute at 4000 rpm! A proven suspension system (with our own twisted design) that could crawl up and over a six foot vertical wall. The ability to sit 18 inches off the ground or with the touch of a button rise to 42 inches without binding your driveline. A vehicle that automatically corrects itself during off-camber situations and steers from the rear. And best of all, approximately $10,000 less than any vehicle of its kind! Ah man, it's on now! I think we'll call it the XTV Raptor.

RaptorMike and I were excited again. We found a new passion. We have to build it. Welcome to our world.

Over the next few months, I will be describing from the ground up, the construction of our competition version of the XTV Raptor. In addition, I will be reviewing the awesome products of sponsors like Krupp/Bilstein, Advanced Adapters, TracTech Inc., Klune Industries, Randy's Ring and Pinion, Jaz Products, Mike Trammel Paint and Body, and others. The competition version is purpose-built to compete in the Goodyear Rock Crawling Championships for the 2001 season. I don't believe there has ever been an article on-line or in print describing in detail the build-up of such a vehicle. So, sit-back and enjoy. See you next month.



XTV Engineering
Phone: (205) 251-5318
Email: rokwizard4@aol.com
2630 4th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
Advance Adapters
4320 Aerotech Center Way
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(800) 775-4407
8845 Rehco Road
San Diego, CA 92121
(800) 537-1085
TrachTech, Inc.
11445 Stephens Drive
P.O. Box 882
Warren, Michigan 48090
Klune Industries
7323 Coldwater Canyon Avenue
North Hollywood, CA 91605
( 818) 503-8100
Randy's Ring & Pinion
11630 Airport Rd. #300
Everett, WA 98204
Jaz Products
Email: info@jazproducts.com
1212 E. Santa Paula St.
Santa Paula, CA. 93060

(805) 525-8800
Mike Trammel Paint and Body
2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233

(205) 323-5515 2121


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