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Ford calls it Sonic Blue, we call it blurple. Whatever you want to call it, it didn't take one Corvette owner more than a car-length to realize he messed with the wrong bluish-purple-hued Ranger. After he looked at the 345mm wide rear tires on the Lightning Bolt and saw the widened Lightning wheels, he made eye contact, laughed at us, and gunned it. We responded by laughing back and blowing the doors off of his new C5. At 90 mph, the little bolt was walking away from the plastic Chevy as if it had become a late-model Malibu. With ego deflated, he conceded defeat with the obligatory thumbs-up sign.
Having seen the blurple beast at a local show, we knew we had to finagle some seat time. So, as soon as we got home, we placed a call to our friends at SVT and were rewarded with a date and time to rendezvous. It was off to Houston, where we were to meet up with our contacts at the traveling SVT trailer. After brief instructions, the keys were handed over with only one caveat, it must be returned. With trusting SVT reps handing over their favorite daughter for prom without a chaperone, we must admit to feeling a bit guilty, knowing full well we had been considered a questionable date in the past. Those thoughts were quickly dismissed as we set out to terrorize Houston for a day.
The little bolt started out as a black 2.5L I-4, automatic-equipped, styleside Ranger. It didn't take long for SVT Engineering's Dave Dempster to propose the Lightning Bolt concept to SVT boss John Coletti. The idea was to create a performance Ranger that used off-the-shelf components to reduce costs and fabrication challenges. Of course, the real intent was to provide somewhat of a sleeper vehicle that was more than capable of commanding someone's, anyone's, full attention when the opportunity presented itself.
Starting with the chassis, Ford engineers had to decide what areas of the vehicle needed to be strengthened to handle the Lightning's 5.4L supercharged V-8 powerplant. The project began with disassembly of the entire vehicle, until only the frame was left. Engineers measured out all of the critical mounting points and determined that considerable changes were needed in order for the Ranger chassis to handle the heroic 450 lb-ft torque output of the 5.4L. The Ranger's longitudinal plastic fuel tank was removed and the framerails were boxed. In critical areas, the frame was cross-braced and tied together. A behind-the-axle fuel cell was fabricated, and the fuel door was moved to the interior of the bed.