Tom Liu is a fan of Raptors. The four-wheeled variety. The winged version. The veloci-type? Maybe.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Liu, the 30-year-old lead exterior designer of the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor, looked to the F-22 fighter for inspiration while designing the latest iteration of the Ford truck.
“Active U.S. military and veterans are a big customer base for us on F-150 Raptor, so I wanted to bring the spirit of F-22 Raptor on board with this third generation,” said Liu, a native of Guangzho, China, who credits the World War II volunteer “Flying Tigers” with saving the lives of his family members.
“To work on an icon like this really means the world to me.”
Liu’s enthusiasm for auto and aviation design took hold at an early age, he said, when, as a child, he would immerse himself in building one model airplane after another. After immigrating to the U.S. in 2016, Liu landed a dream position with Ford as a designer, a role that eventually led to the opportunity to design the third generation of the truck that wowed him years earlier with its “protruding fenders and big, meaty tires,” he said.
In the beast built to fly through the desert at triple digits or climb just about any obstacle, Liu finally saw a chance to combine his two loves.
Of the many features on the F-150 Raptor that draw inspiration from the fighter, perhaps most prominent are the truck’s air vents, shaped to mimic the intimidating front intakes of the F-22. The hood vent air extractor and front grille design also echo elements of the world renowned aircraft.
Additionally, one of the truck’s graphics packages features an “FP GN03″ fender logo and American flag, a nod to the F-22′s vertical stabilizer nomenclature.
As a fun little Easter egg inclusion, that code can be scanned using a smartphone’s QR reader, taking the owner directly to the Ford Performance website.
Unrelated to the F-22 but nonetheless a fun detail, the aforementioned graphics package also features terrain contour lines and a route map of the Mexico-based Baja 1000, an homage to the Raptor’s desert racing origins.
“Ford is known for a legacy of great innovation and design, and the F-22 Raptor brings that same pride in design and development to our nation,” said OJ Sanchez, a former F-22 pilot and current general manager of Lockheed Martin’s F-22 program.
“I think it’s the perfect match, and it’s humbling that F-150 shares the namesake of Raptor.”
Check out Tom Liu’s “A Tale of Two Raptors” endeavor in the video below. And for a full list of the F-150 Raptor’s specs, click here.
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.