By on September 16, 2019

Today’s Rare Ride is a first-generation SVT Lightning from the first year of production. Let’s find out what happened when Ford decided to turn its F-150 into a sport truck.

Lightning came into being as Ford’s response to General Motors’ new sport truck offering, the Chevy 454 SS. The automaker introduced the 454 for the 1990 model year, setting Ford’s SVT (Special Vehicle Team) into action to sport up the F-150. Both vehicles were near the beginning of the pickup truck’s image transition from a work vehicle into everyday family transport.

The SVT engineers made several changes to the F-150 in transforming it into, um, a high-performing road-hugger. All first-generation Lightning models used a tuned version of the 5.8-liter Windsor V8 producing 240 horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque. Additional power was achieved via high flow rate heads, revised pistons, and special stainless steel headers. To handle the additional power, the transmission was upgraded, which meant there was only one option: The E40D four-speed automatic. All examples were two-wheel drive.

Ford contracted with retired racing driver Jackie Stewart for the Lightning’s handling development. The focus on performance required front and rear anti-roll bars and a revised leaf suspension in the rear. Power met the road via Firestone Firehawk tires.

Visual changes included fog lamps set within a new front air dam, unique design 17-inch wheels, a 120 mph speedometer, adjustable bucket seats, and a slightly lowered ride height. Completing the package were Lighting decals in various colors depending on exterior paint. Ford built 11,563 Lightnings between 1993 and 1995 before the model took a hiatus. The name would not return until 1999 and the 10th generation F-Series. Lightning was available in black, red, or white exterior colors, but only black and red trucks were made the first year.

Today’s Rare Ride is one of 2,585 red examples from 1993. With 55,000 miles and in good overall condition, it has crappy aftermarket lighting treatments. It asks $18,995 (a bit too much).

[Images: seller]

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18 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Original Ford SVT Lightning From 1993...”

  • avatar

    It might be the angle of the picture but is that a long bed (8ft)? I didn’t think that they were available as long beds.

  • avatar

    Get rid of those cheesy headlights and taillights, and the Velcro strips for the dashmat. I never had a complaint about the factory headlights on my ’95 F-150.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    “a tuned version of the 5.8-liter Windsor V8 producing 240 horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque”

    A great illustration of how today is the Golden Era for power. 240 bhp is quite a bit less than the 290 bhp offered by the base 3.3L V6 (while torque is much better for for the Windsor). The old V8 was also quite a bit more thirsty.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t be deceived by its low HP rating. Typical of V8s at the end of the era, you get massive torque starting right off of idle, then it tapers off when today’s engine are just getting started.

      Since “HP” is a calc of peak “Torque” X RPM, you get low or pathetic HP figures with these V8s, vs much weaker engines with torque arriving later and deceptively high HP figures.

      I’ve got the normal 5.8 in my ’92 F-350 crew cab 4X4 (non dually) with 35″ tires (manual trans). It’s not going to win any races to the top of the grade while towing 10K, but it pulls just fine.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        These aren’t your granddad’s high strung turbos of yore either though. Small turbos do a great job down low and all of the EcoBoost’s Torque curves are like a tabletop from well under 2 grand on up. They did a great job on those motors. I couldn’t find the OG Lightning’s curve for comparison, but I bet at a given RPM the new motor is making more. You’d have to compare the Raptor I suppose as it and the Lightning were both the SVT blessed trucks of their era.

        • 0 avatar

          No doubt, turbos are amazing now, except he was basically pointing out that today’s regular NA V6s make around 300 HP which I guess is supposed embarrass, at least on paper, the HP figures of even some big blocks that came out of the Malaise era.

          So I’m really not so impressed by the approx 450 HP today’s 5 to 6 liter V8s put out, since it’s mostly (peaking) high on the rev band. Now an old skool V8 tuned to 450 HP will get my attention every time! What I mean is you’re not really getting twice the output, or even close, on modem V8s (except on paper).

    • 0 avatar

      Seems like they did a lot of work for not much power over the plain old stock Magnum 5.9 that put out 230hp and 330 lb-ft of torque.

  • avatar

    Please tell me the tacky color-matching grill isn’t factory?

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I wonder how many under-30 enthusiasts know what a Distributor is? I must admit, seeing that octopus thing in the front of the Windsor V8 makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside…, if only it had a carburetor!

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    These were great when they first arrived on scene; GM only offered the 454SS in black, so at least you got an option or two from Ford.

    While perhaps not the lightening version, this is my favorite iteration of the F150 without a doubt. Make mine a long bed XLT 4×4 two tone blue and white with and gray cloth; I would be blissfuly motoring with my open vent windows and sliding rear window.

  • avatar

    Neighbor across the street from my old house had one when he worked at a local Visteon plant. Apparently a few of his coworkers also bought them so they all parked in a row at the plant every day. His was black, which was a better color in my view, and also made it more similar to the Chevy 454 SS.

    One thing I remember most is that the oil pan started rusting and began leaving quite a bit of oil. I heard from him there was an issue with the oil pan from the beginning but never explored it more. He began parking it on the street and it left a massive oil stain there that took years to fade away after he got rid of the truck.

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