The first generation Lightning was conceived by Ford's
Special Vehicle Team (SVT), a division comprised of engineering and marketing personnel responsible for designing, developing
and marketing limited-edition, high-performance vehicles for enthusiasts based on existing Ford inventory. The philosophy
focused on design refinement, improving attributes of current models and, hopefully, making them image leaders for Ford. Specific
attention was paid to the Lightning's powertrain and chassis to provide a balance of power and handling. In Ford's
words: "For all intents, the F-150 Lightning is a Mustang GT with a cargo bed."
built its first-generation Lightning’s on the 1987 to 1995 Ford truck platform, and only made minor adjustments for
the three years the truck was available. For 1994, exterior changes included a center, high-mounted brake lamp and black aero
mirrors. Like most vehicles, the Lightning switched to more environmentally friendly R-134A refrigerant in 1994, after using
R12 Freon the first year of production. Production totals for the first generation are: 5,276 in 1993, 4,007 in 1994, and
2,280 in 1995. The color breakdown is as follows: 2,691 black and 2,585 red trucks in 1993; 1,382 black, 1,165 red and 1,460
white trucks in 1994; and in 1995, Ford built 824 black trucks, 695 in red and 761 in white. Total production for first-generation
Lightning’s was 11,563.
built the Lightning with a high-output V-8 based on the 5.8-liter, 351-cu.in. engine. To ensure you are buying a Lightning
and not just an F-150 with Lightning accoutrements, look for the "R" code in the VIN. The engine had 8.8:1 compression,
a 4-inch bore and 3.50-inch stroke. The stock hydraulic, flat-tappet camshaft specifications are: duration at 0.50; intake
200 degrees and exhaust 214 degrees; advertised duration is 260 degrees intake and 274 degrees exhaust.
SVT installed GT-40-type cast-iron cylinder heads,
a tuned intake manifold, tubular stainless-steel headers, larger intake (1.84-inch) and exhaust valves (1.54-inch), high-flow
ports, high-rate capacity fuel pump and injectors, revised combustion chambers, a redesigned air filter for improved airflow
and a true dual exhaust system.
upgrades for the basic 5.8-liter V-8 included high-silicon aluminum hypereutectic pistons, a special camshaft for optimized
valve tuning and a cartridge-type oil-to-water exchanger to control oil temperatures. Engineers also programmed the engine's
computer control to deliver crisp throttle response and acceptable fuel economy. Lightning output resulted in a then very
healthy 240hp at 4,200 rpm and 340-lbs.ft. of torque at 3,200 rpm. The Lightning distributor uses a special cap with aluminum
contacts and is the recommended cap for Lightning’s. This cap is made of Rynite, which has high dielectric properties.
This power plant could produce 0-60 times of 7.2
seconds, 0-100 mph in 25.7 seconds and cover the quarter mile in 15.6 seconds at 87.4 mph. Not lightning fast, but the 351
had to propel almost 4,500 pounds. Top speed was electronically limited to 110 mph. EPA fuel economy leaves something to be
desired at 12 mpg city and 16 mpg highway. Firing order on Ford Lightning 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8
one transmission came with a Lightning: the E4OD electronically controlled four-speed automatic. For the Lightning application,
engineers recalibrated it to handle the power and added an auxiliary oil cooler. A 4.0-inch diameter aluminum driveshaft combined
sufficient torque capacity with minimal weight. This transmission featured automatic overdrive with brake/shift interlock
and carried the following gear ratios: 1st: 2.71:1; 2nd: 1.54:1; 3rd: 1.00:1; 4th (OD): 0.71:1; and 2.18:1 in reverse.
4.10:1-ratio rear axle housed a limited-slip differential inside a heavy-duty 8.8-inch rear end filled with synthetic lube.
Ford factory lube is still available from a dealer, but is pricey at $17 per quart. The rear end housing also was Lightning-specific,
featuring external cooling fins to reduce temperatures.
Suspension & Brakes
The front suspension
was standard F-150 fare, with twin I-beams. But a one-inch anti-roll bar kept things in check. The rear suspension included
a rigid axle and leaf springs, as you'd expect from a pickup. The front shocks were Monroe Formula GP gas units with a
1.375-inch bore. Both front and rear anti-roll bars measured 1 inch and the entire suspension was lowered 2.5 inches from
stock. The leaf springs contained a single leaf.
Lightning had power steering, integral recirculating ball type with a 17.0:1 ratio. The steering system was reworked with
a larger Pitman arm and improved-response power steering control valve.
The braking system used power-assisted front disc/rear drum setup with anti-lock brakes
on the rear wheels only. The rotors measured 11.72 inches and the rear drums 11.03 inches x 2.25 inches wide. These brakes
brought a Lightning to a halt in 143 feet from 60 mph.
Wheels & Tires
came standard with 17-inch by 8-inch aluminum wheels with Firestone Firehawk GTA P275/60HR17 blackwall tires. The back spacing
on stock Lightning wheels is 4.5 inches and the stock bolt pattern is 5 x 5.5 inches.
full, ladder-welded steel frame, doubled at the kick-up and rails measuring 0.170 inches were used. Running under the chassis
is a true dual stainless steel exhaust system with four catalytic converters, two mufflers and two tailpipes that exit behind
the passenger wheel.
measured 116.8 inches, the overall length (including the rear bumper) was 201.8 inches, ground clearance stood at 8.2 inches,
front track 64.2 inches, rear track 63.5 inches, and curb weight hit the scale at 4,480 pounds. The Lightning's width
measured 79 inches and overall height stood at 68.9 inches. Weight distribution measured 55.8 percent in front and 44.2 percent
all Ford trucks at the time, the Lightning had a welded, all-steel body and featured a color-keyed rear step bumper. Buyers
could order an optional color-keyed tubular bumper, as the original owner chose on our Buyer's Guide feature truck. The
grille was color-keyed, along with the headlamp bezels and front bumper, which also included an integral air dam and fog lamps.
If someone is selling
a green 1993 Lightning, walk away, because only Raven Black and Bright Red, both without clearcoat, could be ordered. In 1994,
Ebony, Crimson (a special red available only in 1994), and Oxford White were available, but now with clearcoat. All of the
1994 colors carried over for 1995.
dual fuel tanks held a whopping 34.7 gallons and today would cost around $100 to fill, even with regular unleaded. The maximum
payload and trailer weights stood at 745 pounds and 5,000 pounds respectively. Other options include: electric side mirrors,
trailer towing package, sliding rear windows and a security group with remote keyless entry/anti-theft system on 1994 and
1995 models only. The side rear-view mirrors are black only for the first generation.
the cabin and, at first glance, you won't find anything too much different than the standard F-150 cab. The two most obvious
improvements are the perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel and the multi-adjustable cloth bucket seats.
The seats themselves are incredible, and quality-wise
would stack right up there with high-end Recaros. These seats are Lightning-specific and, to the owner's knowledge, not
available in any other Ford product. They're covered in a charcoal tweed with Lightning embroidery on the seatbacks. Each
seat has six-way power adjustment as well as a unique adjustment to allow for better leg support.
Since the F-150 was designed for either a bench seat or
a 60/40 split bench, it left a big hole in between the seats, which in this example is filled with a plastic floor console
out of the same-generation Bronco. A rare option is a console with a fold-down jump-seat.
Instrumentation includes a 6,000-rpm tachometer, 120-mph
speedometer and other gauges to monitor oil pressure, water temperature, and electrical system charging. Included were embroidered
floor mats. Optional were auto-dim mirrors and double sun visors.
The interior was based on the XLT trim and a Preferred Equipment Package, which
included air conditioning, power door locks/windows, electronic AM/FM stereo with cassette, digital clock and four speakers,
cruise control and a tilt wheel.
1993, the only available interior color was Charcoal; Opal Gray in 1994 and Dark Charcoal in 1995.
Legroom measured 41.4 inches, headroom was 39.6 inches,
and overall cab volume was 62 cubic feet. Standard interior equipment on a 1993 to 1995 Lightning included: supplemental restraint
system, driver's side airbag (1994-1995 only), XLT trim; premium bucket seats with power lumbar support; center floor
console (on 1993 and some 1994 trucks) or center folding seat (on some 1994 and all 1995 trucks); electric AM/FM stereo with
cassette/digital clock and four speakers. A CD player could be ordered in 1994 and '95.
Other standard equipment included: power windows; power
door locks; air conditioning; cruise control; tilt wheel; intermittent wipers and light and convenience Group B.