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When you think about it, superchargers and shorter gearing and big-mofo brakes are just about the last thing on the minds of two of the Big Three full-size truck makers. Over at Dodge, they’re more concerned with getting another thousand pound-feet of torque out of the Cummins diesel. At GM, they’re trying to find a way to make the heavy-duty Silverado ride even better — when it’s already more serene than all the same brand’s sedans.
Ford is maybe the last place you’d find the engineers thinking about extracting 20 more horsepower out of a blower-possessed multi-valve V-8 already pounding out 360 horses, but indeed, that’s where the 380-hp 2001 Ford SVT Lightning comes from. Surprised? Us too.
Okay, so it’s not the mainstream minds at Ford looking to melt your favorite strip of tarmac. It’s the microbrand managers at SVT (Special Vehicles Team, the guys who make things go fast, the best place to work in Dearborn — pick your descriptor) who decided a couple of years ago that it would be pretty entertaining to stuff a supercharger under the hood of an F-150, button down its suspension and butch up its looks to create something that would just make auto writers itch to use the exclamation point on their ancient Mac Pluses.
The $32,460 Lightning runs that diacritical risk. It’ll hurtle two or three discerning truckers through the traps about as quick as a V-8 Camaro, while it handles better than any full-size four-wheeler you can purchase in North America. The fact that it also can carry 800 pounds of horse huevos or tow a 5000-pound Airstream just makes it all the more lust-inspiring. It’s sort of like finding out Ashley Judd knows how to make the world’s best chimichangas.