What Is A Ford Lightning?

Posted 3/15/2019 by Jay Walling

The Ford Lighting is a very unique truck designed by Ford's Special Vehicle Team that was a more stylish & more powerful F150. LMR walks you through everything that makes a Lightning, a Lightning.

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Coming on the scene in 1993 Ford introduced the SVT (Special Vehicle Team) line of cars and trucks. This was a high performance line that included top of the line engine and body modifications. One of these being the hopped up version of the single cab F-150 know and the Lightning.

Primarily designed for speed, style, and its handling charities, the Lighting excelled in all of these areas. Ford chose its largest small block option at the time and picked the 351 Windsor V8 engine. This engine choice was rated at a respectable 240HP and 340 ft. /lbs. and for its day rivaled some of the other performance trucks of the time like the GMC Cyclone/Typhoon and the Chevrolet 454 SS 1500.

Body styling came from everything including a lowered stance and highly modified suspension over its farm truck counterpart. These trucks sat roughly 1 inch lower in the front and 2.5 inches in the rear compared to the standard F-150. Twin I-beams, Monroe GP shocks, and coil springs were up front. The rear was equipped with a solid axle sitting on leaf springs with the same GP series shocks. 1 inch diameter sway bars kept the body roll under control as well for this truck.

17 inch custom wheels were introduced and these were wrapped in 275/60/17 Firestone Firehawk tires. Behind these wheels, ABS disc brakes included an 11.72 inch front rotor and 11.03 inch rear drums out back. A 4.10 ratio rear end gear and a beefed up E4OD 4 speed automatic transmission got these wheels and tires moving from 0-60 in 7.6 seconds.

The exterior of the body was highlighted by exclusive front and rear bumpers. Special Lightning logos ordained the bedsides and the tailgate letting everyone know who coming down the road. 1993 models were offered in black and red while the 1994 and 1995 options came in white as well.

Interior styling came from an opal grey color scheme. The bench seat was also changed with added bolsters and another set of Lightning specific logos to top these off. From 1996-1998 Ford's SVT group chose to take a small break on the Lightning while a new chassis and body design was being developed.

1999 brought back this amazing truck with the new 2nd generation Lightning. This is the truck that really changed the game and made technological advances that were leaps and bounds ahead of its time. This SOHC 5.4 liter engine was highlighted by an Eaton supercharger and put out a staggering 360 horsepower and 440 ft. /lbs. of torque. In 2001 Ford did a couple of tweaks and this number jumped up to 380 HP and 450 ft. /lbs. of torque.

SVT kept to its roots with the overall appearance of this truck. Aggressive lines from its body included a unique front bumper that fed air to the water to air heat exchanger so boost temps were kept to a minimum. Chrome fender badges catch your eye as you go down the side to the bed and find a beautiful step side bed with a custom set of dual exhaust tips poking out from the side. Up to 7 different color options were available from 1999-2004, these included Black, Bright Red, Oxford White, Silver Metallic, True Blue, Dark Shadow Grey and Sonic Blue.

The Gen 2's suspension featured a dual A-arm coil spring equipped front end topped off with Bilstein shocks and a 31 mm front sway bar. The rear had a huge 9.75 inch rear end housing loaded with a 3.55 gear set in 1999 and 2000; 2001-2004 models featured an upgraded 3.73 ratio. The rear suspension came equipped with the same Bilstein shock absorbers, a special 5 spring leaf set, and a 31 mm sway bar. Front and rear ride height dropped 1.5 inches in the front and 2 inches in the rear.

The wheel options did change a few times over the years of these trucks. All of these included the 18X9.5 inch cast aluminum wheels and were wrapped in a Goodyear F1-GS 295/45/ZR18 tire. All four corners featured an ABS disc brake setup. A 12.1 inch rotor and dual piston caliper was utilized up front and the rear had a 13.1 inch single piston setup out back.

SVT also made the Gen 2 Lightings interior shine. Custom suede and leather seats kept you planted firmly in place. Special gauges illuminated bright while you were smiling ear to ear watching the boost gauge shoot up and you stabbed the throttle to the ground. Special Vehicle Team really got it right with these trucks. From hauling your buddy’s car to the track for him and then beating him with it, the Lightning always performs better than most sports cars of its error. In the age of small 2 door cars being the way to go, the Lightning will always have respect from the automotive community as a heavy hauler.