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LAS VEGAS — This is probably the only place on the planet where this outrageous truck will not turn heads. It totally fits in with the gorge-all-you-want $2.95 buffets, the sequin-struck locals, and the cha-ching background sounds that alternately lure and drive away tourists like an aural tide.
The limited-edition SVT Lightning might seem a strange creature. But it’s logical, when you consider how much the average aftermarket aficionado spends on their vehicles outside the showroom. You could buy a truck for 20 grand and spend about that much making it go and look good, and still not have the handling and stopping power of the Lightning.
And in your Lightning, you’ll be almost alone. While GM produces faux racer versions of their small Chevy and GMC trucks, and Dodge gives us the Dakota R/T with their biggest engine, compared to the F-150 Lightning, these lowered trucks are just eye candy. They’re tuned to handle well at the expense of some load-carrying capability, but with a screaming supercharged engine, the Lightning more than delivers on its visual promise. (And it delivers on the towing front — more on that later.)
The only truck that came close to Ford's ass-plus-everything hauler was GMC's short-lived Syclone, a brief highlight from GM in the troubled early ‘90s. A compact truck strapped around a powerful turbo V-6, the Syclone was nothing if not entertaining. It begat a sport-ute Typhoon sibling, too, but both signed off not long after they were signed off for production.
Today, the Lightning is the only factory-produced bragging-rights machine. Usually, projects like these don’t really pay off, except in PR fantasies. Thusly, when you’re making a limited-audience truck, you’re usually forced to make some low-budget choices. To bring costs down, SVT decided that Lightning should only come in one configuration: as a standard cab, likely because of its sportier image, lighter weight, and shorter wheelbase.