Andy Gobel knows a thing or two about fine tuning a vehicle. He’s made the automotive aftermarket his second home. First, as part of a family business—Western Truck Parts and Outlaw Customs—and now as a District Manager for LKQ. So, it’s no surprise to anybody who has been around the Colorado resident that he occasionally takes his work home with him. This time around, it’s a brand new 2018 Ford Raptor that he just had to tinker with…
If you know anything at all about the Raptor, you know that it’s pretty much ready for whatever you can throw at it right off the assembly line. It’s regarded by many as the most completely equipped full-size truck on the market. We can agree, not a lot of fine tuning needs to be done. Nobody feels the need to paint a new hairdo on Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, if you know what we’re sayin’.
That’s not to say, however, that mods can’t be done. And though that was not his original intention, Gobel, with his background and ambition for a perfect off-roading vehicle, is just the man for that job.
A Self-Taught Doctor of Suspension
As a former builder of rock crawlers during his youngin’ years, Gobel developed his deftness with the underside of a vehicle. “I have more of a background in suspension and slow rolling rock crawlers and stuff,” he tells us. And as an avid mountain biker, he is acutely aware of how smoothly his ride maneuvers on challenging terrain.
Naturally, it makes perfect sense that he, first and foremost, set out to modify the suspension of a perfectly fine 2018 Ford Raptor. Gobel started by installing Fox Factory 3.0 Bypass Shocks in the back. He installed a Raptor Performance Group Rear Crossmember that houses Fox air bump stops for better control and replaced the factory leaf springs with Deaver springs. This also had the effect of eliminating the 2″ factory lift blocks, as it is a taller unit. And he still wasn’t done with the suspension. He had to call in some heavy-hitting friends for a few favors.
Gobel got a little help from his buddies on the television show The Lifted Life (who run 5R Truck Parts, a Denver-based outfit that has outfitted Raptors for Denver Broncos, and other big names). They were able to help get his hands on some hard-to-reach items. So with their hookup, he was able to install some Camburg billet upper control arms with Heim joints and Rogue tie rods. This pretty much removed any trace of the factory suspension altogether, save for the lower control arms and spindles. And just like God on the 7th day, Gobel was pleased with his outcome.
Making the Best Even Better
“There’s a major difference in the ride capabilities,” he says. “It definitely feels like the truck, instead of skipping over bumps, it’s tracking them. As a mountain biker, it absolutely feels like a dialed suspension that is hugging the ground—functioning optimally.”
So, we’ve seen a total overhaul of what was an already-stout suspension. Just in the name of making it even better. That’s it, right? Job well done? Nope. Not even close. You clearly don’t know Andy Gobel too well. He threw some Method NV 305 wheels on this bad boy. He installed an Addictive Desert Designs intercooler. There’s a new catch can and an SPD Performance 170 Degree Turbosmart Blowoff Valve.
Want more? How about a 30″ Rigid Industries light bar with Rigid lights in back, a new Venom bumper and a Warn winch on the front, as well as a Honey Badger rear bumper for an even tougher look and off-road capability.
Aaaand if that weren’t enough, Gobel is aware of the eventual possibility that he will soon upgrade to 37″ tires from the standard 35’s on the 2018 Ford Raptor. Which is easier said than done because the plan involves cutting into new fenders which, as you know, is a permanent alteration. But it will give Gobel the coverage he’s after to run the bigger tires on the Raptor’s original geometry (it’s just nice to see a high-school level math class be good for something). Yikes. Whatever that final decision is, this truck can reeeallly go places.
What to Do with a Super Trim 2018 Ford Raptor
And trust us, going places with this truck is the whole plan. Gobel has already taken three solid trips with it across Colorado. And his future plans include a trip to Raptor Assault School in Utah and a Raptor Run with the Raptor Offroad community in Wyoming. Not to mention, as a dedicated husband and father, he sees this as an opportunity for more family time. “I’ve got a 4-year old daughter who’s actually really into it at this point,” he chuckles, seeming to sense that her fascination may not last. “I will definitely gear this toward camping trips and fishing, things like that.”
Gobel has done practically all of the work by himself, with the help of some coworkers and friends on their lunch breaks. The time investment has been significant. And as one might imagine, so has the monetary investment. The exact number, for marital reasons, will not be publicly divulged. But Gobel keeps a good sense of humor about it, and seems not to mind investing in something he’s so passionate about. “It’s a new expensive problem I have,” he jokingly confesses. “My mountain bike looks really cheap right now.