If you are picking up this issue and aren’t familiar with this project, here is a little recap. We are breathing new life into our 1999 Ford F-150 Lightning project, which we affectionately call Project Stealth Fighter due to its subtle good looks but lethal performance. In the three previous articles, we showed you how to lower it for a menacing ride height and superior handling. We also showed you how we made 129 more horsepower and 124 more lb-ft of torque by upgrading the factory blower to a Whipple replacement and Kooks long-tube headers.
You would think there isn’t much more we could do to this truck, but you’d be wrong. Now that the truck is so low, we’re having trouble getting the front suspension into factory alignment specs. Dialing in the alignment will increase the handling capabilities and save our 22-inch Nitto tires. With all that newfound power, we can really tear up a racetrack, but the problem is we can feel the chassis twisting and flexing under the truck. We also know we can get more traction in the rear to help get all those ponies to the ground. Thanks to Stifflers suspension components, we can address all of these problems and turn our Lightning into a bona fide street beast.
Stifflers makes an adjustable upper control arm kit for the 1997 to 2004 Ford F-150 and Lightning trucks. This will help us get the truck aligned and allow us to make camber adjustments while at the track. The company also makes a chassis stiffening system to help the torsional strength in the frame. Finally, we ordered one of Stifflers’ long bar traction kits that will help the tires hook up on launch, which will give us quicker weight transfer and reduce wheelhop. The traction kit even fit our slammed Lightning. To handle the install while we snapped the photos, we drove the truck to Outlaw Offroad in Santa Ana, California. Known for their killer off-road setups and extreme Raptors, the crew at Outlaw also performs all types of upgrades on lifted and lowered trucks alike. Follow along to see how we made our Stealth Fighter safer, handle better, and even quicker than before.
1. We decided to install the chassis stiffening system first, since that would likely be the most time consuming. Here you can see the kit laid out, which included all the hardware necessary. We also ordered the Stifflers driveshaft safety loop that is incorporated in the kit.
2. The front of the kit bolted to the lower control arm mounts. To accommodate this, the rear lower control arm bolt was removed.
3. Next, a bracket was bolted to the middle of the transmission crossmember. This acted as the rear mount for the front brace of the kit.
4. With the mounts installed, the brace could be bolted in place.
5. The rear of the brace bolted directly to the frame. This utilized an existing hole in the frame so there was no need for drilling.
6. The previous braces provided longitudinal stiffening, but Stifflers didn’t forget about side-to-side loads. This brace bolted to the brace from the previous step and to the frame, providing much needed lateral stability.
7. With everything in place, we tightened the last few bolts and were ready to bolt in the driveshaft safety loop.
8. This part was a no-brainer, as there were brackets in the stiffening brace for this addition. This is important, especially since we plan on beating on this truck. In the case of driveshaft failure, this will prevent it from flying around under the vehicle, potentially puncturing the gas tank or coming through the floor pan.
9. The next step was to begin on the long bar setup. Again, the kit came with everything needed for the install. This kit will allow us to hook up off the line and give us better traction during autocross competitions.
10. To start, we removed the inner U-bolt from the leaf springs.