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HomeFeatured VehiclesPick of the Day: 2003 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning

Pick of the Day: 2003 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning

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Ford’s definition of “performance truck” has shifted significantly over the past 20 years. Currently, those words are synonymous with “Raptor,” the high-flying off-roader from the Ford Performance division that offers 37-inch tires and 700 supercharged horsepower. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Blue Oval’s signature F-150-based power pickup came from Ford Performance’s predecessor, SVT (Special Vehicle Team), and was known as the Lightning (which has also since been redefined as an electric pickup!)

The first generation of the Lightning was Ford’s rival to the Chevrolet 454SS and struck dealer lots in the 1993 model year. Like the Chevy’s big-block street beast, it combined a large V8 (a 5.8-liter Windsor) with a single-cab body and a short bed. After a total of three years on the market, it was discontinued. Luckily for enthusiasts, Ford brought the Lightning back as the ultimate version of the 10th-generation F-150 in 1999. Not only was the curvier new Lightning equipped with a Flareside bed, it also packed an Eaton-supercharged 5.4-liter Triton V8 that produced 360 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque. Channeled through a heavy-duty 4R100 four-speed automatic transmission and the rear wheels, that output enabled the Lightning to bolt to 60 mph in under six seconds.

This Pick of the Day is a 2003 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning offered for sale on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Tucson, Arizona. Given its relatively late spot in the second-generation Lightning’s 1999-2004 production run, it benefits from the improvements SVT made for the 2001 model year. By changing the rear-end ratio to 3.73:1, installing a larger mass airflow meter, and bolting in a higher-flowing intake manifold, Ford’s in-house speed freaks increased output to 380 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque, brought the 0-60 mph time closer to the five-second mark, and bumped the top speed up to 142 mph. As one of the 4,270 Lightnings produced for the 2003 model year, this truck also rolled out of Ford’s Ontario Truck Facility equipped with updated cylinder heads, redesigned 18-inch wheels, and a higher payload rating of 1,350 pounds.

According to the selling dealer, this Lightning has only had two owners. The second one kept the truck since 2004 and racked up the majority of the 72,398 miles on the odometer. Over the past 20 years, the truck has remained largely stock. It still has its factory body kit, dual exhaust outlets that exit on the passenger side ahead of the rear tire, and European-style taillights, although an aftermarket hard tonneau cover has been added to the bed. The gray and black cabin offers SVT instruments with white dials; power windows, locks, and mirrors; and a pair of leather and microsuede seats divided by a flip-down center console. However, a Kenwood eXcelon infotainment system with Bluetooth and a backup camera feed has been installed to provide modern conveniences.

A lot has changed in the past two decades, but one thing hasn’t: Ford’s ability to make fun, powerful trucks. If you want to catch air at 100 mph, the Raptor is ready for flight. If you’re in the mood to take Camaros and Challengers to Gapplebee’s, harness the power of Ford’s original performance truck, the SVT Lightning. The asking price for this second-gen Lightning is $30,929.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Derek Shiekhi
Derek Shiekhi
Derek Shiekhi is the Editor and Lead Writer at ClassicCars.com’s sister site AutoHunter.com. He was previously a freelance automotive writer who won numerous awards from the Texas Auto Writers Association for his coverage of events and vehicle reviews. He has been lucky enough to drive Lamborghinis on a track, go off-roading over sand dunes in a Land Rover Discovery, haul a BMW M Roadster with a Ford F-450 Limited, and perform several 55-mph jumps in the Ram 1500 TRX. These days, he’s learning a lot of interesting facts about the vintage and collector vehicles auctioned on Auto Hunter.

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