Many people ask "What Is A Ford Lightning?" This is a very unique truck designed by Ford's Special Vehicle Team that was a more stylish & more powerful F150.
Beginning in 1993, Ford Motor Company introduced the SVT (Special Vehicle Team) line of cars and trucks. This was a high-performance line that included top-of-the-line engine, body, and suspension modifications. One of these vehicles being the hopped-up version of the single cab Ford F-150 known as the Ford SVT Lightning.
Primarily designed for speed, style, and handling characteristics, the 1st Gen Lightning excelled in all of these areas compared to the standard truck. Ford chose its largest small block option at the time and picked the 351 Windsor V8 engine. The 1993 Ford Lightning engine was rated at a respectable 240 HP and 340 lb/ft. of torque and, for its day, rivaled some of the other performance trucks of the time like the Chevrolet 454 SS 1500. The GMC Syclone and Typhoon, other performance truck options that were available at that time, were in a league of their own with their turbocharged 4.3L and all-wheel-drive powertrain! However, it is nice to mention Ford’s F-150 Lightning in the same sentence as that factory monster!
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.
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.
In 1999, Ford brought back this amazing truck as the new 2nd generation Ford F150 Lightning. This is the truck that really changed the game and made technological advances that were leaps and bounds ahead of its time and its competitors! The SOHC supercharged 5.4-liter V8 engine was highlighted by an Eaton blower that made a strong 360 HP and staggering 440 lb-ft. of torque. In 2001 Ford did a couple of tweaks and this number jumped up to 380 HP and 450 lb-ft. 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 fresh air to the 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 alloy 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 were utilized up front and the rear had a 13.1-inch single piston setup out back.
SVT also made the Gen 2 Lightnings 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.
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All in all, the 1st Gen and 2nd Gen Ford SVT Lightning are trucks that stand alone with their combination styling and performance! While Ford has not brought back the SVT Lightning to retake the crown of the ultimate street truck, the SVT F-150 Raptor is prowling the streets, taking down the competition! And, with its new supercharged engine from the flagship GT500 going between the strut towers, Ford’s Muscle truck will be a top dog once again!
For more informative articles about the Ford Lightning, keep it here with the real Enthusiasts, LMR.com!