Ford's Special Vehicle Team, or simply SVT, builds vehicles that push the limits of Ford's factory offerings. Take the Raptor for example. You can buy a Raptor from the dealership and take it right out to the desert and have a ton of fun. That isn't to say that there isn't any room for improvement. Before the Raptor, SVT delved into trucks with the Lightning—a purpose-built street truck with plenty of power. When the second-generation Lightning came out in 1999, they were supercharged and loads of fun. But just as with the Raptor, there is always room for improvement. This is where Jim Guthrie of Albuquerque, New Mexico, enters the picture. He picked up a 1999 Lightning in 2010 and immediately got to work making it better than the engineers at SVT ever thought it could be.
With the Lightning back at Jim's shop in Albuquerque, the factory suspension was the first to go. Jim pulled out the coils and shocks up front and the leaf springs in the back and replaced it all with Shockwaves from Ridetech. This system allows instant adjustability depending on driving conditions. Jim knew he would need better braking for the power he wanted to make and opted for Wilwood six-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers in the rear. These clamp down on 16-inch drilled and slotted rotors for maximum stopping and cooling. To finish off the chassis, Jim outfitted a set of Raceline Deceptive 5 polished wheels with Nitto NT-555 and sticky rear NT-05 tires. Under the hood, Jim had big plans for the Lightning. Rather than build the worn-out 11-year-old engine in the truck, Jim swapped it for a 5.4L JLP Racing Engine. This one came equipped with an aluminum block, ported and polished heads, Manley valves, and for added oomph, a Kenne Bell supercharger pumping out 18 psi of boost. With 620 rwhp, the transmission and rearend needed some help. This came by way of a shift kit, torque convertor, new 3.73 gears, and a limited-slip differential.
Rather than change up the look of the truck with all kinds of shaved components, the only thing Jim did to the exterior was add a Cervini's front bumper, fiberglass hood, and custom fender vents. He then two-toned the truck with Ferrari Corsa Rosso red and Ford GT40 silver. Inside the regular cab, Jim had many of the factory plastics smoothed and painted red to match the exterior. The center console from an F-250 was modified to fit into the Lightning, and Corbeau Racing seats and a Momo steering wheel finish off the interior, giving it a race-ready feeling.
Jim loves driving his truck on and off the track. If you are ever in Albuquerque and see a red blur blast past you, you can rest assured that it is just Jim out for a rowdy drive in his SVT Lightning.
Inside the Build
Year Make Model:
1999 Ford Lightning
Owner and City/State:
Jim Guthrie • Albuquerque
Type: JLP Racing 5.4L
Heads: JLP ported and polished
Induction: 3.4L Kenne Bell supercharger
Exhaust: JLP headers, Bassani 3-inch exhaust
Engine Management: Custom JLP tune
Output: 620 rwhp, 650 lb-ft
Built by: JLP Racing
Transmission: JLP shift kit and torque convertor
Rearend: Ford 9-inch with 3.73 gears and limited-slip differential
Front suspension: Ridetech Shockwaves
Rear suspension: Ridetech Shockwaves
Brakes: Wilwood six-piston front calipers and four-piston rear calipers with 16-inch rotors
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: 20x10 and 20x12-inch Raceline Deceptive 5
Tires: Nitto NT-555 275/35R20 up front and NT-05 315/35R20 in the rear
The Wilwood big brakes provide the right mix of good looks and outstanding braking force.
It doesn't take much to convince Jim to smoke the sticky NT-05s