Original Ford F-150 Lightning was a ‘Mustang GT with a Cargo Bed’
MotorWeek tested the first F-150 Lightning back in 1993 – when the top Ford performance truck still had a V8.
Twenty five years is a long time to a company. Some don’t last 25 months. Over the course of a quarter century, HQs can move, head executives come and go, stock prices rise and fall, and the company can choose to focus on more lucrative products and drop those that are no longer in demand. This retro MotorWeek video review of the original Ford F-150 SVT Lightning shows just how much things have changed at Ford since 1993.
Back then, the Lightning was the top Ford performance pickup. The crew at SVT took a single cab, short-bed F-150, painted it either Bright Red or Midnight Black, and dropped a massive V8 under its hood. The 5.8-liter power plant featured heads derived from the famous GT40 and less restrictive headers. The end result of those and other improvements was 240 horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque, which was processed by a four-speed automatic enhanced to deliver more aggressive gearshifts. According to host John Davis, MotorWeek was able to get the Lightning to hit the 60 mph mark in 7.2 seconds. Stiffer springs and shocks, and thicker stabilizer bars gave the Lightning a grip on curvy roads and substantially reduced its body roll, but they also contributed to its rough ride quality. It earned the distinction Ford gave it: a “Mustang GT with a cargo bed.”
The first Lightning eventually gave way to a second-generation model with a smaller but supercharged V8 with even more power stuffed inside a flareside two-door body. It’s been a long time since that model stopped rolling off of the production line, too. After the 2004 Lightning, Ford still valued performance in its specialty trucks, but decided to shift where that performance would be best focused. Although the first-generation Ford Raptor still had a V8, SVT designed it to do its best on unpaved roads. The second-generation Raptor can do even more than its predecessor on rocks and over sand, albeit with two fewer cylinders. Ford’s new top specialty truck is nothing like the 1993 Lightning, but it makes it clear that Ford still values performance – no matter where that takes place.