Ask our Experts, we're here to help!
In the grand scheme of things, the fact that Ford would call their fully-electrified model of the F-series "Lightning" makes perfect sense. The implication of the power of lightning motivating one of the most popular vehicles in the North American market for the last several decades is a marketing department's dream come true. And Ford certainly hasn't been shy about the 2022 Lightning's capabilities: from speed and driving range, to the ability to act as a power generator for a house. Given the current market swing towards electric vehicles, it makes perfect sense.
Unless, of course, you happen to be a fan of performance vehicles. Then, you might be a bit miffed at the upcoming Lightning, because that name used to mean something else at Ford. One of SVT's wild ideas that was born when everybody seemed ready to build a hot performance pickup truck, the Lightning was a return to V8 performance that also added in the convenience of having a bed out back to haul more than just the mail with. The upcoming electric Lightning might answer Ford's desire to electrify the F-series, but it leaves performance fans wanting some kind of sport to go along with those EV power promises. We're in that category, so we asked Rotislav Prokop to take a crack at giving the new Lightning a bit of personality to go with its new powertrain.
1999 Ford SVT Lightning
During the heyday of the Special Vehicle Team (SVT), the F-150 Lightning was a performance model that put F-150 performance on the map. First appearing in 1993 as the sport-truck market went from hot to red-hot, the Lightning was meant to go on the defense against the Chevrolet 454SS. More than just a trick-looking F-150, the Lightning was special, from its GT40-headed 351ci V8 to the special frame that used thicker frame rails from the F-250 and additional gusseting to add strength. The second act, which appeared in 1999 and ran through the 2004 model year, was even wilder: an Eaton-supercharged 5.4L Triton V8 produced up to 380 horsepower and 450 ft/lbs of torque and was hooked to the 4R100 automatic, the same transmission that the 6.8L V10 and 7.3L PowerStroke diesel used. An Eaton-sourced Detroit Locker out back, transmission fluid cooler, and a modified engine cooling system just barely scratches the surface of the changes the second-gen Lightning had compared to the standard F-150. Low, menacing and thumping that oh-so-familiar Detroit blast beat out of side-exiting dual exhaust, the second-gen Lightning was a riot.
Let's be fair to the EV side of the new Lightning: 563 horsepower, 775 ft-lb of torque and an expected 0-60 run in the mid four-second zone is pretty stout. Combine that with zero emission output and, if we're going to be a bit cheeky about it, the tax breaks, and there's no need to worry about re-powering the Lightning. Instead, we wanted to get away from the four-door pickup truck that pretty much looks just the same as any other F-150 that will be sold off of the lot. Part of that program for the previous generations of Lightning included lowered suspensions, a beefier wheel and tire combination, and an aggressive-looking body with sporty touches from stem to stern. With this in mind, we decided that the base body should be the SuperCab with the 6 foot, five inch bed layout. We could've gone for the regular cab, but having that backseat space is more of a priority in today's market and even if you don't need the additional passenger room, the additional interior space does come in handy.
From there, the immediate steps would be to lower the Lightning down around a set of 20-inch wheels. A wide-body kit, reworked fascias front and rear, and a lip spoiler at the top of the tailgate help give the Lightning it's "evil twin" look. Inside, there isn't much that needs to be addressed. Ford already throws the book at the Lightning, so you end up with nicely bolstered seats, adjustable pedals, and if your heart desires, an in-vehicle safe in the console. Unless your heart is set on leather seating surfaces, we wouldn't bother changing a thing. How else do you improve upon an electrified pickup truck that looks like this and can hang with a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 on the on-ramp?
Oh, and for those of you who are ICE-or-nothing types, the 5.0L Coyote can be had with this body configuration...unlike the Lightning, which is only available in the four-door SuperCrew cab configuration.