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The first Lightning was the 1993 Ford Lightning F-150. Produced in limited number in 1993, 1994 and 1995. Originally offered in black or red, the color white was added for 1994 and 1995. There were a total of 11,563 Ford Lightning trucks procuded of the first generation. Offered only in a standard-cab short-bed fleetside (styleside).
The truck was born amongst the engineers and marketing executives at Ford's Special Vehicle Team. This team transforms pedestrian production vehicles into asphalt-pounding race machines.
Ford re-introduced the Lightning in 1999 based on the new-for-1997 F150. The new truck features an Eaton supercharger to boost power. Produced from 1999 through 2004, a total of 28,124 trucks were made. The truck was only offered as a two-door standard-cab truck, with step-side bed. The truck offers 360 horsepower and 440 lbs-ft torque, and records a 6.2 second 0-60 time.
For 2001, the truck receive several upgrades. The air intake manifold offers improved airflow, to yield 20 additional horsepower to reach 380hp. Torque also improves to 450 ft-lbs. Resulting 0-60 times have dropped to 5.8 seconds. The truck features an aluminum driveshaft, and a 3.73:1 rear axle ratio. Mono-tube Bilstein shocks improve handling, while the passenger side shock is repositioned in front of the axle to reduce axle-wrap.
Goodyear stepped up with unique Eagle F1-GS tires with a new rubber compound. The wheels are also new. Unique headlamps, corner lamps, fog lamps and tail lamps with a modern clear front lens have been introduced. The roof-mounted third brake lamp is now illuminated by a sindle row of LED. Upper and lower grill inserts get a new design.
The upgraded Lightning reflected the high-mark for Lightning production. Subsequent years retained many of the same features while demand lacked until it was dropped in 2004.
Ford built a SVT F-150 Lightning concept based on the new-for-2004 F150. It debuted at the 2003 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The truck featured a Tremec T-56 manual transmission (borrowed from the SVT Mustang Cobra), 500-horsepower supercharged V-8 engine, independent rear suspension, massive Brembo six-piston calipers and gigantic 22-inch wheel wearing Gooyear tires.
Rumors circulated in 2008 about a new Lightning based on the new-for-2009 F150 platform, perhaps as a 2010 model. With potential power anywhere from 450 to 550 horsepower, if it sees the light of day.
Ford SVT produced a prototype Lightning Bolt Ranger in 2002. This standard-cab Ranger boasts a 5.4-liter V-8 complete with supercharger from 2002 Lightning. Custom engine mounts keep the motor nested snugly under the otherwise stock sheetmetal. The designers appropriately reenforced the stock frame rails by fully boxing them and adding cross-bracing. In addition, the front a-arms, spindles and springs were pulled straight from its full-size benefactor. Likewise, the truck uses a narrowed Lightning rear-end and brakes all around. Topped off with 18-inch Lightning wheels.