Meteorolog-ists have it all wrong. Lightning explodes not only from the pining between positives and negatives in anvil-shaped clouds, but also from a whirligig of combustion inside a supercharged V-8. Ford killed the SVT F-150 Lightning after the 2004 model year, which is a shame for those who insist on buying turnkey performance. But to an aftermarket enthusiast like Mike Stevens of Valley Center, California, the Lightning serves as a very substantial platform for a stormy hot rod.
Let's start with the important part by looking under the hood. The Lightning rolled out of the factory with an Eaton supercharger augmenting a 5.4L V-8 and produced 360 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque. But that wasn't good enough for Steve, who teamed with Autosport Performance in Escondido, California, to install an Apton Performance upgrade to the stock blower, 2-psi blower pulley, 6-pound lower pulley, Generation 5 supercharger impellers, methane/water injection, AFE cold-air intake, polished intake tube, polished and ported throttle body, Interchiller intercooler fans, electric fans, water pump, JBA programmed chip, JBA ceramic headers, and Bullet 3-inch exhaust. This all adds up to 459.8 hp and 547 lb-ft of torque to the wheels.
Peek beneath the truck and you'll have to stoop a little lower than usual. Autosport gave it a 4/6 drop, swapped out the factory coils for a set of Western Chassis springs in the front, and left the factory leaf springs in back. Nitro Slammer shocks keep the suspension under control, and the truck dishes out Boze 22-inch wheels all around wrapped in Pirelli 295/30ZR22 tires and stopped by AP Racing six-piston calipers.
Step back and feast your eyes on the Lightning body lines smoothed by Hot Rods & Custom Stuff in Escondido, which shaved the emblems, rear trim, bedrails, and front license plate holder. Then the Hot Rods crew added a roll pan, billet door handles, a fuel door, and a Gaylord tonneau. Check out the pearl-white flickering with silver and white flames, thanks to artist Pete Finlan, who laid on the House of Kolor paints.
Inside, the factory gray is given high-end accents by the Phoenix Imaging blackwood dash panels and the suede gray door panels and headliner. The seats were cut down to buckets, and neon backlights in the doors and Billet Accessories speaker grilles cover the audio drivers in the cab. Let's get into that with greater detail. An Alpine IVA-D901 AM/FM/CD/DVD unit heads up the audio/video system. From there, an Eclipse equalizer offers greater control over the system's frequency settings. Two JL Audio 10-inch subwoofers thump from custom enclosures in the cab, a setup duplicated in the bed. MB Quart 6-, 4-, and 2-inch separates sprinkled in the doors and bed push the mids and highs. Powering these drivers are two JL Audio 450/4 amplifiers for the subs, and two JL Audio 500/5 amps for the other speakers. One pair of amps lies in the bed, while the other set is mounted in the cab. Fraggers can play with the Xbox or movie buffs may watch their favorite flicks on the Sharp 30-inch screen mounted in the bed. The center console was customized to accommodate a built-in iPod and Sony notebook computer. Hot Rods & Custom Stuff handled the interior mods, while Al & Ed's in Temecula, California, installed the audio and video.
Steve said that he just wanted to build a sick truck, but the project got out of control. Mission accomplished...on both points. What he got was a truck that's fast as a flood flashing across the California desert and rumbles with the bass note aftermath of a lightning strike.