Aftermarket Mania

Make space on the garage wall for a new poster-vehicle of performance SUVs: the Hennessey VelociRaptor. With a base price of $159,500 and production limited to just 30 per year, a picture is about as close as most of us will ever get to this stunning conversion by Texas-based tuning house Hennessey Performance Engineering.

Despite its rarity, the VelociRaptor is sure to influence future factory-built high-end utes. Although based on the Ford’s F-150 SVT Raptor pickup truck, which is intended for dedicated off-road use, the VelociRaptor is meant for the streets and some light-to-moderate dirt driving.

“Don’t plan on pre-running Baja or negotiating Rubicon with our SUV — that is not why we built it,” said Hennessey founder John Hennessey, whose company is known for modifying sports and super cars and has already built nearly 400 upgraded Raptor trucks for serious enthusiasts. “But if you’re looking for the ultimate vehicle to drive from Aspen to Telluride in January, the VelociRaptor SUV would be perfect.”

Named for the predatory dinosaur made famous by the 1993 flick "Jurassic Park," the VelociRaptor delivers a roaring 411 brake horsepower in standard form or a fearsome 600 bhp when supercharged. The standard model launches from a standing start to 60 miles per hour in just 7.5 seconds. Make that 5.9 seconds with the optional supercharged upgrade.

Further VelociRaptor options include Brembo front brakes, bespoke interior and electronic upgrades, and LED lighting. Security and armoring systems are also available.

The VelociRaptor, which was announced in May, is just one of the latest sport utility creations from a vibrant array of aftermarket tuners worldwide.

Germany is an SUV-tuning hotbed. Brabus has been souping up Mercedes-Benz utes, both aesthetically and under the hood, since the late 1990s. Hamann Motorsport builds radical takes on Land Rover, BMW and Mercedes sport utilities and crossovers, with options that include gold leather trim and newly developed illuminating paint that literally glows. Gemballa produces a pair of swanky Porsche Cayenne-based conversions, the Tornado and GT Aero 3.

British company Overfinch specializes in enhancing Range Rovers; a collaboration with posh English gun maker Holland and Holland yields a Rover that boasts an interior rich in hand-veneered wood and specially selected hide, plus a hand-crafted gun cabinet in the trunk.

Catering to a super-elite clientele, Japan’s Invader Technologies tricks out Lexus, Nissan and Toyota SUVs with opulent options such as gold wheels and carbon-fiber interiors.

Paul Rogers, Brand Publishing Writer

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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