Fast cars has always been a passion of mine. I've owned numerous cars, from 442s to corvettes to chargers. Haven't had a Ford yet.
I'm looking for one vehicle that can serve as a daily driver, haul stuff, and still be fun to drive.
Pickups seem to fit my need, but which one? I like R/T Dakotas, but I don't like Dodge reliability especially in the auto transmissions.
The Ford Lightning has always impressed me, both in looks and performance. I raced one at the track with my vette, and got beat. Instant respect from me
So with all that out of the way, I'm seriously thinking about buying a used lightning. Naturally, I have some questions, so please excuse my dumb questions as I know nothing about Ford trucks
Most important, how reliable are these trucks? I'm thinking about buying a 1999, or close to that year. I think 1999 was the first year for that generation, so do I have to worry about 1st year bugs? Is there anything in particular that breaks on lightnings?
Second, what are the transmission choices? Since this will be my daily driver, I prefer an automatic. If auto is available will it hold up?
What kind of mileage do these trucks get?
What kind of prices can I expect, say for a mint condition 1999, with 75K miles?
I'm hoping to keep the budget around 12K, so that might knock me out of the newer trucks. What about the older lightnings?
Thanks in advance! Any informationn is greatly appreciated!
If I were looking for another Lightning, I would look for an '01 or up. The 99-00 L's had a little less power mostly due to smaller MAF meter and 3:55 gears rather than 3:73's. Also, they had intercooler problems that forced a recall. SO it you are looking at one of these years then make sure the recall was done. To answer your other questions...
My L dynoed at like 448 rwhp / 580 rwtq and ran best of 12.08@ 113.98. I didn't have one single problem with it the entire time I owned it, and I had a lot of 1/4 mile passes on it. I also didn't beat the crap out of it every chance I got and made sure the tune was safe. That's most important for reliability purposes. Automatic is the only trans available and it holds up fine for the most part. Mine got an average of 13-14 mpg.
A mint condition 99 will probably be around high teens. Here is a link to a friend's L that is an '01. He is a maniac taking care of it. 50 coats of Zaino and it sits uder a cover in a garage all the time when not in use. A little above your price range though.
You won't find a used '99 Lightning for 12 grand unless it's a salvage titled vehicle or it's been beat on with high miles.
My buddy just bought a '99 with sixty some-odd thousand miles on it, from a private seller, for 15 grand. And while it's far from mint, it's still in very good shape mechanically speaking.
I too just bought my '99 L with 70 some-odd thousand miles on it. But I paid $16,500 for mine at a dealership. That was from a starting SALE price of $21,000.
As for the intercooler leaking, Ford never had a recall on that problem. It was more of a customer satisfaction repair program since it was a common occurance on the Lightnings. That "program" lasted for only about a year.
Don't be scared of the 20hp difference between the '99/'00 model and the '01 and up models. The MAF was a big reason for the difference, and while yysenhimer was correct on the ring & pinion gear change, that doesn't affect the HP output. All a gear change does is affect how the power is translated to the wheels. The 20HP difference on the '99/'00 L's is easily made up through modifications that you'll surely be doing anyway!
Be careful though! You buy one of these trucks and you'll get bit HARD by the mod bug. There's just so many ways to make these trucks fly!
Pay close attention to what yysenhimer said about the tune. Once you mod the truck, the custom tune you get for it and it's parameters, will be the determining factor on how long the engine lasts and how reliable it is. The safer the tune, the more margin you have for lasting longer.