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The new SVT Lightning concept isn't just built for speed off the line. It was designed to be quick out of the box, thanks to a new F-150 modular design architecture that's geared
to flexibility. That made it possible to show off the new SVT Lightning concept as a possible derivative of the new F-150 immediately at the truck's public unveiling.
"Modular design lends itself to special editions like this," says Craig Metros, F-150 chief designer. "Changing details such the front grille, the side body panels and interior trim transforms the truck. The result is a specialized, high-performance model, far from being just a wheel-and-tire package."
The SVT Lightning concept is based on the new Regular Cab F-150 Flareside model, finished in Liquid Silver Metallic and dripping with performance character. In keeping with SVT Lightning tradition, the concept only has two doors. The rear access doors on the new Regular Cab F-150 are replaced on the concept with longer front doors and fixed B-pillars. Other SVT design cues include electro-luminescent gauges, side exhausts, clear taillights and round foglights.
Stunning Performance Interior
The stunning interior of the SVT Lightning concept perhaps best illustrates the benefits of adapting F-150's modular design architecture. It builds on the craftsmanship and meticulous detailing of the all-new 2004 F-150, according to Jim Smithbauer, F-150 design manager.
"The luxurious Lariat interior was a perfect starting point for the SVT Lightning concept," Smithbauer says. "The color and trim emphasize the SVT Lightning concept's aggressive character, while the seat bolsters and console-mounted shifter make the perfect ****pit for the performance enthusiast. The dash and center console are accented with Liquid Silver Metallic to match the exterior. The seats are covered in Mustard Yellow leather, complemented by Ebony carpet and door trim. Even subtle changes emphasize performance, like the red engine start button and the electro-luminescent gauges - an SVT trademark."
Another emphasis on performance is the manual gearbox instead of the top-of-the-line F-150 Lariat's automatic transmission. Most pickups with a manual transmission have shifters mounted on the floor. The SVT Lightning concept employs a flow-through center console, enabling a short-throw shifter reminiscent of a sports car.
The profile of the SVT Lightning concept is dominated by 22-inch tires mounted on Gunmetal Gray alloy wheels. The work of F-150 designer Michael Trump, the wheels feature a sculpted, flush face and positive offset for aggressive strength resonating the
F-150 "Built Ford Tough" character.
The roofline is slightly chopped for a streamlined, aggressive look. The panels below the waterline (a horizontal character line that connects the front and rear bumpers) are sharply sculpted to give the sport truck a more purposeful profile. Integrated into these lower panels on both sides are dual exhausts.
The 61/2-foot Flareside bed has smoothed side steps, a hard tonneau cover and an aerodynamic spoiler at the top of the tailgate. Aerodynamics also influenced the rear of the SVT Lightning concept, where twin venturi tunnels wrap under the rear bumper. The tunnels are designed to increase stability at high speeds by reducing turbulence and generating rear downforce.
Above the rear bumper, the SVT Lightning concept has unique taillights featuring a three-element design and a complex reflector showcased under a clear lens.
Unlike the production F-150, the grille of the SVT Lightning concept is separate from the hood, creating a continuous arch from headlight to headlight. The effect, according to Ford Tough Truck designer Damon Depeyster, is an "aggressive, menacing brow."
To further accent the aggressive visage, Depeyster created a new lower fascia that incorporates SVT's trademark round fog lights, and a new hood with functional air induction vents.
The design detail doesn't stop on the exterior of the SVT F-150 Lightning concept hood. Inside, the engine bay is meticulously detailed. The engine is topped by a Performance Red air intake, in homage to '60s American muscle cars. The supercharged, aluminum 5.4-liter V-8 is completely chromed and polished and capped with "Powered by Ford" valve covers.
"This is a performance truck," says Metros. "So the engine bay had to be all business, all performance. It had to be clean and sophisticated, with an unobstructed view of the engine. It had to be the ideal of the perfect engine, like that of a custom hot rod."
Adding Voltage to SVT's Sport Truck Heritage
The Ford SVT Lightning concept marks the coming of a future third generation of the "World's Fastest Production Pickup." It arrives as the Ford Special Vehicle Team celebrates its 10th anniversary and Ford Motor Company is kicking off its Centennial year.
Since its introduction as a 1993 model, the Ford SVT F-150 Lightning has dominated the sport truck market. By the end of 2003, about 36,000 SVT Lightning pickups will be on the road.
The SVT Lightning has been constantly improved since its introduction, as output has jumped from the original's 240 to today's 380 horsepower. Acceleration has improved accordingly, with official 0-60 mph times dropping from an impressive 7.6 seconds to a scorching 5.8 seconds.
The Ford SVT Lightning concept making its world debut at the 2003 North American International Auto Show hints that the next-generation SVT Lightning will raise the bar even farther, and continue to dominate in the sport truck arena.