Rare Rides: The Original Ford SVT Lightning From 1993

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 18 comments
  • 87 Morgan 87 Morgan on Sep 16, 2019

    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 4x4 two tone blue and white with and gray cloth; I would be blissfuly motoring with my open vent windows and sliding rear window.

  • Detlump Detlump on Sep 17, 2019

    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.