Now here’s a truck we can really get behind. Not only does Tom Lawson’s ’01 Lightning look the part of a show truck, it’s taken everything that was good about Ford’s muscle truck one step further. Actually, it’s more like several steps, but you get the idea. Using the Lightning as a stepping off point, Tom’s creation offers little in the way of compromise when it comes to having fun on the track and enjoying the drive home. Check out how a quick factory truck wound up a daily driving track terror.
Lightnings are already lower than your average F-150, but Tom wanted even more handling performance, so he bolted on a Western Chassis 4/6 drop kit. The kit uses 2-inch dropped arms and springs in the front and hangers and shackles in the rear. Doetsch Tech Nitro Slammer shocks dial in the compression and rebound, while solid antisway bars, 31mm front and 23mm rear, eliminate body roll through the corners. Anticipating some real hard driving, brakes were a must-have upgrade as well, so Brembo rotors and Morse ceramic pads were installed at all four corners. The final aspect in handling was the wheel and tire combo. Maido MS5 wheels were selected for their uncluttered five-spoke design and were fitted with 285/35ZR22 BFGoodrich g-Force KDW tires for extreme grip on the track.
The interior of the Lightning was given both race-inspired upgrades and luxury comfort, beginning with converting the factory split bench seat into two buckets and installing an Expedition center console. An Auto Meter pillar pod was filled with Auto Meter Lunar series gauges to display boost, fuel pressure, and air/fuel ratio. You’ll understand why that’s all so important later. Billet interior accents can be found on the pedals, shift lever, window and lock switches and sill plates, and are just a hint of the polished billet found throughout the Ford. For entertainment on the drive to and from the racetrack, Tom installed an Alpine IVA-D900 7-inch DVD/MP3 head unit that’s wired to an NVE-852A navigation system. The audio is sent through Polk Audio amps and a Crossfire equalizer before being routed to Polk DB 400 coaxials, MMC 4250 components, and 10-inch subwoofers behind the seats.
Opening the hood on Tom’s Lightning reveals a plethora of billet from Chickenear’s Custom & Performance and DM-racing. You’ll spend so much time checking out the intricate details of polished aluminum and carbon fiber that you might miss the go-fast goodies that blend right in. Beginning with a .020-over 5.4L Lightning block, JDM Engineering added a forged steel crank, Manley H-beam rods, Manley forged pistons with file-fit rings, ARP main studs, and an SFI harmonic balancer to the short-block. On top of the engine sits a polished W140ax Whipple supercharger fed cool air through a Chickenear’s cool-air intake that uses a massive 12-inch-long conical S&B filter. Dumping 21 pounds of boost into the engine through a Fluidyne charge cooler and CNC-ported Lightning heads, the supercharger keeps two Walbro 255 fuel pumps and eight 60-lb/hr injectors busy. Exhaust is handled front to rear by Bassani, beginning with stainless steel headers, moving through high-flow cats, and ending with a muffler and polished stainless tip. The power is channeled through a 4R100 transmission that was reinforced with Art Carr components to handle up to 1,000 hp. The cherry on top is a Nitrous Express 100hp shot, just in case Tom isn’t planted into the seat from the excessive acceleration forces.
The engine note from the exhaust is enough to garner plenty of attention, but a truck with this much going on just can’t wear factory paint. The answer was a set of ghost flames in House of Kolor Ice Blue Pearl and Ice White that stretch across the front of the truck and also cover the Innovations tonneau cover. Under the tonneau you’ll find a full Bedrug kit and two Optima Yellow Top batteries, one for starting duties and one purely for the audio system. Other interior upgrades include Street Scene mirrors and stainless Speed Grille inserts, Razor’s Edge billet fuel door, and a shaved tailgate.
Tom wanted to give thanks to the shops and companies that helped him out along the way, including: Polk Audio, Flynn’s Automotive Detail Products, BFGoodrich, Marshin Signs and Graphics, American Audio, DM-Racing, Matworks, Chickenear’s Custom & Performance.
Ten-inch T3 subs in a beautiful custom enclosure are fed power through Polk Audio amps.
A DM-racing forward-tilt hood system reveals polished and ball-milled aluminum hood panels
Carbon-fiber and billet-aluminum covers from DG Motorsports top the fuse box, master cylin