Welcome to the newest addition to the Ford Addict Blog. A segment we’d like to call Throwback Fords, where we talk about Ford vehicles of the past that have helped shape the lineup today. This little trip down memory lane will provide a cool history lesson of our favorite vehicle brand, as well as its vehicles through Lincoln, Mercury, Edsel, and even Merkur!
For our first segment ever, we’d like to talk about the first generation F-150 SVT Lightning. Now when many people hear “SVT Lightning” they either think you’re talking about a bizarre weather condition, or they think of the second generation truck with the supercharged 5.4L V8 engine. While most hardcore enthusiasts remember the first generation from 1993-1995, only 11,563 were produced over a three year run. Keep in mind that Ford was selling over 500,000+ trucks a year since the F-150’s redesign in 1992. That’s not a lot of SVT Lightnings out there.
It was originally designed to compete with Chevy 454 SS truck, but the Lightning came to be a totally different breed of truck. It provided a similar sinister looking blacked out exterior (also available in red and an all white exterior option for the total ‘90s experience), and similar performance from a V8 engine. The engine used was a 351 cu-in 5.8-liter Windsor V8 that produced 240 horsepower and 340 ft-lbs of torque. A Ford E40D automatic transmission was upgraded to handle the power, and a 4:10:1 rear axle helped that power get to the ground. The real surprise here wasn’t just a cool looking V8 powered pickup; it was how a cool looking V8 powered pickup could miraculously achieve 0.88 g in lateral acceleration. And the truck still had the same towing capabilities as the normal F-150.
Now a truck that can put out power like that needs some handling to help it turn as sporty as it looks. That’s where three time World Champion racing driver Jackie Stewart comes into the picture. He worked heavily on the Lightning to fine tune the suspension to make the truck stiffer and more responsive. The truck was lowered 1 inch in the front, and 2.5 inches in the rear, had front and rear anti-rollbars, and a special leaf that had a rubber snubber, which acted as a ladder bar and helped to control rear wheel hop during hard acceleration. Thicker frame rails from the four-wheel-drive F-250 were used to increase the rigidity of the chassis. All this was hidden by the huge 17 inch wheels, well… they were big back then. Inside the Lightning had an F-150 first of front bucket seats, with electronically adjustable side bolsters and lumbar support. A 120 MPH speedometer was also part of the package.
When it was launched in December of 1992, it was met with very favorable reviews. Over 150 reviews of the truck were instantly published and praised its capabilities. Even Jackie Stewart proclaimed his love for the Lightning, cementing its place as a drivers car. Actually, more like drivers truck when you think about it. However, the first generation was short lived, and Ford’s Wayne, Michigan truck plant stopped production at the end of the 1995 model year. The second generation made its debut after a five year hiatus, and the influence of the SVT Lightning lived on. The current generation of F-150 added the off-road oriented and SVT-designed Raptor, but the true performance replacement is the new F-150 Tremor powered by the EcoBoost motor. So while the V8 may not be offered in the Tremor, the turbocharged EcoBoost motor has proven itself as a powerful efficient engine. And the turbo “WOOSH” always puts a huge smile on a car guy’s face. We believe that it is safe to assume the future of the performance truck is in great hands.
The original SVT Lightning appears to be a future collectible and the used market values are reflecting that. Extremely low mileage examples are selling for around $20,000 at the highest, and a driver quality example is a good buy for under $10,000. This could potentially be a great collector investment for the future or a really fun car that you can enjoy. Either way you’re getting a fun to drive truck, with low production exclusivity, and a built Ford tough badge on the front.