2000 Ford SVT F-150 Lightning new car reviews

What would you say about a vehicle that could accelerate from 0-60 in 5.4 seconds, cover a 1/4 mile in just over 14 seconds, brake from 60 mph to a stop in 137 feet and pull .85g on the skidpad? Sounds pretty cool, huh?

Now what if we told you that this vehicle could also carry a stack of 4x8-foot sheets of plywood or drywall without your even having to scrunch the seat forward? Would you be surprised? Not once we told you that the vehicle we're talking about is a bona-fide pick-'em-up truck--the 2000 Ford SVT F-150 Lightning, to be exact. And, to use an extremely tired cliché, this truck also hauls ass.

Ford SVT, the same folks that build those Mustang Cobras and Cobra Rs, put together the newest Lightning from a standard cab F-150. It was chosen because its lighter weight, stiffer structure and shorter wheelbase would enhance handling. Starting with the basic F-150, SVT modifies the front suspension with a 31mm anti-roll bar, springs that lower the ride height by half an inch and special SVT shocks. In the rear, ride height has been lowered by two inches and the standard three-leaf springs have been replaced by special SVT five-leaf springs. A 23mm anti-roll bar and staggered shocks help control the rear axle motions. The rear end is a limited slip, 3.55:1 ratio.

The big story is under the hood. SVT took the already potent 5.4-liter Triton V8 and bolted on a big old Eaton supercharger, right on top of the engine, just like the old days. The blower sits atop a water-to-air intercooler that lowers charge temperature. This forced induction allows the Triton V8 to pump out 360 horsepower and a monstrous 440 ft.-lbs. of torque.

Backing up this force is a four-speed automatic trans that is beefed up with internals from the Power Stroke diesel trans that comes in the Super Duty F-series.

Driving the Lightning is similar to driving a regular F-150, albeit one with considerably improved steering response and handling. The real difference rears its head when your right foot goes to the floor: the world around you gets blurry, and all of the sudden you're a long way from where you were when your foot went down.

The power of the Lightning is addictive. The torque curve feels absolutely linear, and the truck just rumbles ahead as fast as you can put your foot down. In the corners, there's no mistaking that this is a full-sized pickup, but the 18-inch alloy wheels and 295/50-18 tires do a pretty respectable job of keeping things in line. Steering response is quite good, despite the recirculating-ball system, and the truck actually stays quite flat and is quite neutral. Of course, Duke-boys-style tail-out slides are just a twitch of the right foot away.

What we're not really sure of is exactly who the target audience is for this $30,000+ vehicle. It's cool, undoubtedly, but are people with this much money going to think it's cool? Probably. SVT usually sells all of the vehicles it can build, with the Contour SVT being the lone car in recent memory that didn't just jump off of Ford lots. Ford should be able to deliver every Lightning they make into the hands of willing owners. Look out America.

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