There are two 1994 Lightning's in my area that I'm looking to buy right now.My Ranger is seeming to get tired and my 6'1" legs aren't really comfortable in there to start with lol.One of these Lightning's is red,the other is black.I know a few things about them,but most things I don't.I know that they have the infamous 5.8L EFI,HD E4OD automatic trans,8.8" 4.10 Limited-Slip rear,etc.Basically performance mods.But,these trucks are $7,000+ and I don't see any sense in spending that much on something that I'll want to do my own thing with,starting with the engine.I don't want to mess up something that there were only a little over 4,000 made.I'll let a collector get ahold of one of those and share it's glory .
But...I really do want one of my own.Isn't the truck basically a standard cab/bed 1994 F-150 with a 1.0" drop in the front,2.5" in the back,a handling package,some decals,and those 17" rims?I can get a 1994 F-150 for $2,000-$3,000 and I would much rather build my own "Lightning",do it by my rules,and have something that I'll enjoy for years to come.
I have two 351 Windsor blocks in my garage,complete.They're ready for tear-down and build-up.One is a 1970 and the other is a 1986.I also have two AOD's sitting around.The non-electronic ones.So,I basically have what I need in that respect.I want to build a 393 Stroker out of one of these to install in my "Lightning".A Supercharger would be among the rest of my performance mods.The only thing is this...Did the original '94 Lightning's come with factory mass-air?I think they would just about have too.
This 393 will suck alot more air than the factory 5.0L computer is accustomed to,but it should still be fun.I could probably get a performance chip programmed somewhere to use.Does Motor Haven do custom chip jobs?If I had to,I could get the mass-air system off of a Mustang.No problem on that.And of course,I'll have to get the parts to make my 351's EFI engines.This will be my first performance EFI engine built from the bottom up.I can do the insides,but all of the electronics is what gets confusing to me.Know what I mean?
I think that this will be a fun project,but it's going to take some work,money,and time.I think that I'm ready for it though.Mostly all that I think I'll need from a real Lightning is the gauge cluster,front air dam,and the seats.I will probably do something different than the factory Lightning seats though.
I think most of the 1st Gen owners are sitting back say..."well , hes wrong"
Yes, you can spend $3000 on a short bed, standard cab truck, but it wont be a 1st Gen Lightning.
If you SC that SB,Standard cab it might run like a Lightning..and approach the HP levels of a Lightning (about 250hp or more at the fly). But it wont handle like a Lightning, and it wont perform like a Lightning.
Some things you failed to mention in your breakdown of a 1st Gen lightning.
1)They come with a HD 8.8 rear, w/4.10 gears limited slip rear diff, and have 3" axle tubes in the rear with cooling fins on the housing which no other F150 at the time had.
2) they all come with a 4" aluminum driveshaft, Lightning Specific....
3) they all had a special E40d, that is specially calibrated unlike any F150 available at the time. *Ford sometimes referred to the trans as a Dieselmatic, which we found was very similiar to the trans in the Powerstroke.
4) The Frame has gussets weld over the rear axel which no other truck of the three years have, and Ford still managed to keep the vehicle weight lower than most F150s, mine was 4450 with me in it.
5) the 93-95s are lowered and come with the largest Swaybars available, unlike any of the other F150s available.
6) The interior is also unique to the Lightning, check one out and you will see.
Other than the decals they had a special spoiler and Light package and HD 95 amp Alternator.
7) They also came with the largest wheels available at the time, 17" wheels that were only available on the Lightnings.
8) the engine was only rated 40 HP more that the standard 351w, mainly due to the GT40 components. But most of us will argue that since at the track we were a full second or more ahead of a standard Windsor powered F150.
9) The 1st Gens come with an awesome exhaust, SS headers, 4 cat setup and True Dual exhaust, not available on any other production truck of the time.
I hope you make a decision that works for your budget, but dont jip yourself though.
talk to any Gen1 owner and you will see most feel the same as me.
this post was not meant to be obnoxious, but I wanted to let you know the 1st Gens are unique as the "R" in there Vin Number.
No Mass Air, on any Lighting trucks ..though some will say oh I though some 95s from Calif had Mass Air. ((((WRONG)))) not the Lightnings.
all 93-95s were SD, Though I have Mass Air on my truck now (pro M),'
most will agree your money is better spent on tuning your Speed Density (SD).
Now adays Custom tuners have incredible capabilities with ECC tuners or Tweekers and the Dynos. THey can modify your electronics/induction system to handle just about any street combo you can through at it as long as your CAM is not out of range for the SD.
Presently, I have a custom exhaust, Mass Air , trickflow heads, E303 cam stock trans and converter other than vavlebody and I have run in the 13.7 range and I have all emission components working. Which I can say is faster than any NA street truck I have ran at the tracks in NJ and NH area.
It really comes down to a good tune and the right combo.
I just loved the Lightnings looks and think I made the right decision on a platform.
A Lightning was a limited production vehicle....and is as unique as they come in the marketplace , both then and now.
I have a 1994 (Black) Lightning , that I purchased just for the shear novelty of what it is.
Sure...a short bed standard cab F-150 of the era can be built along the lines of a Lightning...but it will still be an F-150 by VIN and judged as a Mod Vehicle in terms of value.
I would much rather have a "Real McCoy" as opposed to a hybrid....based on marketing and limited availability alone.
The cost and labor to get a standard F-150 to do what a Lightning will do from stock is going to be hefty and very much labor intense in my opinion...I would take the bite and spend the extra upfront to obtain a Lightning Vs a project truck....simply put, when the Gen 1's are gone?.....that's it , regular F-150's will still be around for a long time. latch on to a fine piece of Ford SVT history and enjoy the investment. You won't hate yourself later.
Nobody had mentioned the NLOC website . Go there and see what is available for sale . You may be surprised at what you can purchase one of these for . It's a great website . You'll be able to find a wealth of info. and very helpful Gen 1 nuts to talk to . I have a Black '93 and Love it , and have never driven anything like it . You'll be absolutely amazed at how these drive and handle . Don't settle for anything less than a "factory" Gen 1 , you'll never be disappointed . If you want you can call me @ 412-331-4357 . Ron
I had the pleasure of driving a stock, black, '94 Lightning just about three hours ago. It belongs to a friend who also built a '93 "hybrid to suit him. I have driven the '93 on several occasions so I am pretty familiar with it, however the Lightning is the best OVERALL choice for performance, comfort, and handling combined. The '93 will probably have a slight edge in 1/4 mile acceleration alone. I have seen it run a best of (and consistent) 15.0 at the track. From what I have read it seems like a stock Lightning comes in around the mid 15's. The '93 is the stock 5.0 with a Powerdyne Supercharger w/ about 6psi of boost, a mass air conversion, a very firm shift kit with shift points about 5000rpm, and a 3:55 locking rearend. The truck is a SB regular cab. If memory serves me right the supercharger and mass air alone added up to around $3000 which is the $$ differene between a stock F-150 and the Lightning!
Eventhough the '93 might best the stock Lightning in a drag race it still isn't the same as driving that Lightning. The seats were way more comfortable (I am also 6'1") and the handling is great! The 4.10's were great when accelerating out of town from 35mph. What would that Lightning do with the supercharger and mass air conversion? There is a lot more potential there I think and no streetability issues with those two simple mods.
Just my opinions, for what they are worth! Good luck and have fun. You really can't go wrong.
Hey Nighttrain I just had another thought. If you have the time come to St. Louis in May for the World Ford Challenge in May at Gateway International Raceway. You may be within easy driving distance depending where in TN you are located. If you haven't been before its great. It is supposed to be the largest all Ford event in the country with a show, swap meet, and drag race. There are a couple of Lightning classes and you will see everything from stockers to 10 second Lightnings. Check it out on the web.
As far as affordability , you can have the Lightning in the 14's with just a few mods . Why just exhaust issues alone will get you there . The speed density set up is also very "tuneable" and with a tweecer and a chip you can do still more damage to 14's . And it will cost you about the same as what you have in the stock 5.0 in the F-150 . Not only that when it's all said and done it's a Gen 1 Lightning . This is the most superbly engineered truck to hit the market in it's time , and 10 years down the road it's still competitive .
I did not mention it since I was talking about the truck and not trying to relay info about the site. Many of the Lightning owners may take it for granted that some people dont visit the site.
I am member #52 in the club and have been around from the beginning of the site. Sal the creator has ridden in my truck and I know him well. I was actually a member of the original "LCA" so I go way back with the 1st Gens.
and before the 1st Gens, I had a pro street Ranger (Gt40 engine) so I a truck performance enthusiast, that got hooked on the Lightnings.