Ford Lightning

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Ford Lightning
A 2001 Ford Lightning Truck
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
Production1993–1995, 1999-2004
SuccessorFord F-150 SVT Raptor
ClassPerformance Truck
Body style(s)2-door
PlatformGeneration 1 (1993-1995)
Generation 2 (1999-2004)
RelatedFord F-Series
A 1993 Ford Lightning (First Generation)

The Ford SVT Lightning is a sports/performance version of the F-150 Pickup truck designed by Ford's truck-division and eventually released and marketed by the then-new SVT (Special Vehicle Team) division. The F-150 Lightning was conceived as a product focus for the personal-use possibilities of the Ford F-Series pick-up truck, combining outstanding handling, comfortable ride, and spirited acceleration.

First generation (1993-1995)

Ford introduced the model in 1993 to compete with the GMC Syclone and, primarily, the Chevrolet 454 SS, in an effort to enhance the sporty, personal-use image of the Ford F-Series pickup. The Lightning shared its basic platform structure with the regular F-150, but custom modifications were made to many vehicle systems, including enhancing the Lightning chassis to increase rigidity. The stock Lightning was capable of achieving 0.88 g lateral acceleration, yet it was a full-sized American pickup truck with almost all the hauling and trailering capabilities of the parent F-Series. A 351 in³ (5.8 L) Windsor V8 producing 240 hp (179 kW) and 340 ft·lbf (461 N·m) of torque replaced the standard F-150 engine. The engine was based on an existing block, but Ford engineers fitted it with high flow rate "GT40" heads and used hypereutectic pistons to increase response, output and durability.

An upgraded Ford E40D automatic transmission equipped with an aluminum driveshaft was standard and the only available transmission. 4.10:1 ratio rear gears, special 17" aluminum wheels with Firestone Firehawk tires, unique Lightning badging, a custom front air dam with integrated fog lights, a 120 mph (190 km/h) speedometer and unique under hood treatments including a special "Lightning" intake manifold casting all differentiated the Lightning from normal F-150s. Bucket seats with electrically-adjustable side bolsters and lumbar supports were part of the package. Suspension modifications made the truck stiffer and more responsive, and provided a 1 in front and 2.5 in rear drop in ride height, lowering the vehicle's center of gravity and improving handling.

The 1993 Lightning, launched on December 15, 1992 and "christened" by Mr. Ed Hagenlocker, Ford's President, received more than 150 favorable articles in America's newspapers, magazines, and television outlets, and helped Ford regain leadership in the all-important personal-use truck market. Three-time World Champion driver Jackie Stewart was highly involved in fine-tuning of the Lightning's handling prowess, and Mr. Stewart finally announced to the motor press, "I love the Lightning!" Key Ford engineers, managers, and executives involved in developing the original Lightning Performance Truck were Jim Mason, Robert Burnham, Jim Englehart, Terry DeJonckheere, Rory Carpenter, Bob Hommel, Terrell Edgar, Dick Liljestrand, Deb Neill, and Fred Gregg.

The 1993 Lightning had an incredible 23 product "firsts" or pilot applications, including the first true dual exhaust on an F-Series, the first bucket seats in an F-Series, the first 17" wheels and tires, and the first use of synthetic lubricant in Ford truck rear axles. These trucks were manufactured at Ford's Michigan Truck Facility in Wayne, Michigan. AMT Ertl released a Ford-licensed 1/25 model kit of the 1994 F-150 Lightning, with more than 115 parts and a highly-detailed engine compartment (kit 6153).

Year Engine Power Torque Black Trucks Red Trucks White Trucks Total Production
1993 5.8 L Windsor FI V8 240 hp (179 kW) 340 ft·lbf (461 N·m) 2,691 2,585 N/A 5,276
1994 1,382 1,165 1,460 4,007
1995 824 695 761 2,280
Total 11,563

[1]Brochure comparing the specs of the Lightning to the Dodge SRT10.

Second generation (1999-2004)

In 1999, after a five-year hiatus, Ford SVT unveiled the Second Generation Ford Lightning. Powered by a modular SOHC 2-valve 5.4 L Triton, the new engine was capable of producing 360 horsepower (270 kW) and 440 ft·lbf (600 N·m) of torque. This was primarily due to the inclusion of an Eaton supercharger that was factory installed. Behind the engine sat the 4R100 automatic transmission which connected to a rear end housing 3.55:1 rear gears. The Lightning featured specialized 18" wheels mounted with Goodyear Eagle F1 295/45ZR-18 tires. The Lightning's suspension system, which lowers the truck half an inch in front and two inches in the rear was also modified from the standard F-150. The suspension was largely unchanged for the 2001 Model. It retained the front short-and long-arm system with coil springs and a 31 mm solid stabilizer bar along with the rear solid axle with five-leaf springs and a 23 mm solid stabilizer bar. Monroe shocks were used from 1999-2001 then replaced with Bilstein shocks from 2002-2004.

In the 2001 Model Year, the engine design was slightly altered to produce 380 horsepower (280 kW) @ 4,750 rpm and 450 ft·lbf (610 N·m) of torque @ 3,250 rpm. Also, the previously leaky intercooler was redesigned. This problem was addressed as a recall in earlier models. Another engine revision came in the 2003 Model Year when a weakness in the heads, the lack of sufficient threads for spark plugs, was addressed and fixed, although "piston slap" a mild knocking noise while the engine is cold was still imminent. At the other end of the drivetrain, the final drive ratio was shortened to 3.73:1 in 2001. Also, in 2001 the drive shaft was increased in size to a 4.5-inch (110 mm) aluminum unit, from the previous 3.5-inch (89 mm) steel unit. The specially developed 295/45ZR-18 Goodyear Eagle F1-GS unidirectional tires were upgraded utilizing a new generation F1 GS rubber compound; improving the tires' gripping capability. With these engine and drivetrain revisions, Car and Driver magazine drove a lightning from zero to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.2 seconds. For 2003, the Lightning's cargo capacity was raised from 800 lb (360 kg). to 1,350 lb (610 kg).

The second generation Lightning was initially offered in just Bright Red, Black, and White paint colors. The 2000 Model Year brought the addition of the Silver color to the lineup. In 2002, True Blue, a very dark blue, was offered, but replaced with a lighter Sonic Blue in 2003. The 2003 Model Year also saw the introduction of the Dark Shadow Grey color.

These trucks were manufactured at Ford's Ontario Truck Facility in Oakville, Ontario until its closure.

Year Engine Power Torque Production
1999 5.4 L supercharged Triton V8 360 hp (268 kW) 440 ft·lbf (597 N·m) 4,000
2000 4,966
2001 380 hp (283 kW) 450 ft·lbf (610 N·m) 6,381
2002 4,726
2003 4,270
2004 3,781
Total 28,124

Appearances in Media

Ford Lightnings have been featured in a number of feature films and television shows, including:

  • A black first generation driven by antagonist Lester Vesco in the movie Big Momma's House.
  • A blue second generation was featured as a project vehicle in an episode of the American television show American Body Shop. Owned by a female basketball player, the team fitted the truck with a basketball hoop and custom-painted flamed basketballs.
  • A 2004 Ford SVT Lightning can be unlocked in the 2004 video game NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup.
  • A red second generation driven by protagonist Brian O'Connor in the movie The Fast and the Furious.
  • Charlie O' Connell Drove a Red Ford Lightning in the movie Dude, Where's My Car?.
  • In 2008, a Valvoline motor oil commercial features a red first generation Lightning owned by Curtiss Johnson.[2]
  • A second generation Lightning can be driven in the Xbox game Project Gotham Racing 2.
  • The Lightning was reviewed unfavorably by Jeremy Clarkson in the 6th series of the British car show Top Gear. Clarkson criticized, among other things, the truck's build quality and its impracticality in Britain.
  • A black second generation appear in an episode of NCIS, Season 4.
  • A second generation lightning is available in the Playstation 2 game Ford Racing 2.
  • A second generation lightning was shown in The Girl Next Door (2004 film).


External links