What constitutes “big horsepower” in powerboats always is, of course, relative to the type of boat you’re talking about. A collaboration between Indmar and ROUSH, the new 6.2-liter Ford-based Raptor 575 is a beast on the towboat side. But toss a pair of those 500-plus-hp, supercharged and catalyzed beauties—the “575” designates torque output—into a go-fast V-bottom or catamaran and you’re looking at a power package that is decidedly entry-level. Still, the notion is intriguing. And based on a chat I had with Scott Clack, the vice president of Indmar Marine, and a couple representatives from ROUSH Performance near the end of the opening day of Miami International Boat Show last week, it’s promising.
For some time, Ford had been on a rather long hiatus from providing engine blocks to marine world. But three years ago, Ford and Indmar reached an exclusive agreement for the engine/automobile giant to supply F-Series Super Duty 6.2-litre blocks for Indmar to marinize. As it also happened, three years and some 5,400 development hours ago Indmar began collaborating with ROUSH on the project. The results of their partnership, the Raptor 575 for towboats was on display next to a custom-painted, trickedout Ford F-150 truck with the “street version” of the engine.
For ROUSH, which applied its proprietary “ROUSH-supercharging” to the V-8 engine, the Raptor 575 is the company’s first foray into the marine engine world. Worth noting, the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board emissions-approved engine earned an Innovation Award from Boating Writers International during its 2015 Miami Boat Show debut.
“We’re delighted to be working with Indmar,” said Michael Hewitt, the director of new business development for ROUSH. “We’re in for the long haul.”
Both Hewitt and Clack said they were excited at the possibility of supplying Raptor 575 engines to the performance-boat market, and Clack said he’d already preliminary discussions “with a couple” of go-fast powerboat builders. What makes the possibility even more intriguing is that the Ford-based product can be offered to boat builders—and ultimately consumers—at a lower price than a General Motors-based engine of comparable horsepower, according to Clack.
But how much lower? “Now you’re really putting me on the spot,” Clack said, then laughed. “Significantly lower. The Raptor 575 can be very competitive with existing products.”
Of course, there are hurdles. First and foremost of these would be finding a stern drive to put the power to the water. Mercury Racing likely won’t cozy up to the idea of supplying Bravo XR drives to Indmar. (Yes, there are other drive options on the market.) And it’s worth mentioning that any drive that is paired—unless a completely new purpose-built unit—with the Raptor 575, will not have been developed in tandem with the engine for high-performance marine use.
Another issue—one that likely is easier to handle—is remapping. The current Raptor 575 has been designed for towboat duty, meaning it produces high torque at low engine speed (rpm). That would need to be tweaked for a single- or twin-engine go-fast boat application.
Still, it’s intriguing stuff. And even if Ford-based engine products never make it out of the inboard towboat segment, it’s good to have them back in the game.
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.