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You have questions.  I have answers.

1. How much are you asking for the vehicle?

2. Where is the vehicle located?

3. Is the vehicle in good, fair, or poor condition?

4. How has the custom built race motor and other modifications affected performance?

5. How fast is it?

6. How loud is it?

7. What kind of fuel economy does it get?

8. What size are the wheels and tires?

9. How do the low-profile tires and Roush suspension handle together? Is the ride rough or harsh?

10. Do you still have the factory wheels or any other original parts from the vehicle?

11. Can this vehicle be used for hauling or towing?

12. Who performs the maintenance on the vehicle?

13. How many more miles do you expect out of the vehicle before a major rebuild or overhaul?

14. Has the vehicle ever been in an accident?

15. What parts have you replaced recently?

16. Why are you selling the vehicle?

17. Is there anything wrong with vehicle?

18. Why should I buy a 2003 model year Ford SVT Lightning instead of one built in 1999-2000 or 2001-2002?

19. Why should I pay more to buy your vehicle when I can find others for less money?

20. Why have you built such a big website to sell your vehicle? Are you a dealer?

21. Who do I contact for more information about the vehicle?


1. How much are you asking for the vehicle?
NOTE: This vehicle has been SOLD. Thank you for your interest! Back to top

2. Where is the vehicle located?
The vehicle is in Athens, Georgia (an hour outside of Atlanta). Buyer assumes all responsibility for pick-up or shipping, although I may be willing to deliver the vehicle to buyers within a reasonable distance. Back to top

3. Is the vehicle in good, fair, or poor condition?
The gallery images and service history should speak for themselves. This vehicle is in excellent mechanical and cosmetic condition. I don't want to misrepresent the vehicle or mislead a potential buyer, so I'll admit the vehicle isn't perfect. I'd rate the exterior condition a 9 out of 10 (10 being perfect) and the interior a 9.5 out of 10. The interior has worn well over the years--no stains, gashes, or tears in the suede-like Alcantara (no children, no pets and no smoking either), and the leather is still soft and supple (not hard and cracked). As with any vehicle this age, there are a few rock chips and minor scratches and nicks in the finish, as well as a small superficial scuff mark in the bumper cover near the driver's side foglight housing from a parking encounter. There are also some very fine scratches on the bottom edge of the bumper cover from steep driveways (I do my best to avoid parking berms and curbs though), but none are visible unless you are laying flat on the ground looking for them--they are out of sight from normal viewing angles. I have always hand-washed and hand-waxed the vehicle, but because the severe drought in Georgia has prompted a ban on all outdoor water usage, this has been more difficult to perform as often as I like. Recently, I have been guilty of taking an occasional trip to the touch-free (brushless) automatic car wash for quick touch-ups. The body is perfectly straight--not a single dent or even a door ding, but if you're picky like me, you may notice that the soft aluminum hood has the slightest indentation around a small rock chip (it's barely noticeable, especially by most people's standards, and can probably be repaired by a "Dent Wizard" if someone really cared enough about it. I will admit that it's hard to keep the 22" wheels away from potholes and curbs, and in a year of use, I've been lucky and only had one casualty so far. There is a little curb rash on one wheel, but it's limited to the edge of the lip and is barely worth mentioning. The engine compartment is clean and the undercarriage is in good condition (factory frame wax is intact on most of the frame). There is no sign of rust anywhere on the body. The vehicle has been garaged for all of its life (including during the daytime because I work from a home office), and looks as good as the pictures indicate. It probably won't win any concours awards as it's hardly a trailer queen, but it does show well and compares favorably with other SVT Lightnings on the road today. Some people even confuse the truck with a brand new vehicle, and are surprised to learn that it's 5 years old. Back to top

4. How has the custom built race motor and other modifications affected performance?
While an SVT Lightning in stock trim is quite powerful, my particular example is significantly more potent. Having owned another Lightning (2001 model) prior to purchasing this 2003 model, I was already familiar with what modifications worked and didn't work, and could avoid committing the same mistakes or wasting money on ineffective parts the second time around. One could say that my 2001 Lightning was merely a "prototype" or test mule for my 2003 Lightning, which benefited from experimental research and lessons learned on my first Lightning. The final result is a fully sorted vehicle optimized for reliable street performance and occasional weekend racing. I prefer mild to wild, so most of the modifications are tastefully restrained and whenever possible attempt to preserve the factory appearance and OEM reliability (vs. more extreme mods that involve hacking computers, wires, hoses, and bodywork to fit). For example, boost is limited to a conservative 14 psi and the Air/Fuel Ratio is a safe 11.6 that gets richer near redline. To protect the transmission, all factory-specified safety provisions are retained in the custom programmed tune. These include: factory shift duration and line pressure (shift firmness), and leaving "torque reduction" enabled (also known as "4-cylinder shutdown" or 6000 RPM timing retard). Only the best quality components were used to guarantee robust performance and ensure a long service life (I am not interested in pulling and rebuilding a motor every season). In combination, all of the mechanical improvements (intake, supercharger, pulleys, ported heads, cams, built bottom end, exhaust, and tune programming) produce 478 horsepower and 564 lb-ft (SAE corrected) at the wheels. That is 100 horsepower and 100 lb-ft more than the factory motor is rated, but the difference is more impressive when you consider that this is 478 "real-world" rear wheel horsepower, compared to the factory horsepower that is measured at the crank. Acceleration is more immediate, both from a stoplight and when downshifting at speed, and the power band continues to climb until 5000 RPM where it gradually tapers off right before the programmed transmission shift points. The stump-pulling torque rises quickly to a broad plateau from 3500 RPM to 4250 RPM, peaking around 3750 RPM.

There is actually plenty of power left on the table, should someone desire more performance. The built race motor with forged internals can handle 1000 horsepower, so the foundation is already in place for turning up the boost. Because the factory exhaust manifolds and dual-blade throttle body are still restricting the engine, long-tube headers and a larger throttle body would help the engine breathe better and yield even more power. I never pursued headers because the truck is already loud enough (for me at least).
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5. How fast is it?
When it was first launched in 1999, the Ford F-150 SVT Lightning was unofficially called the world's fastest pickup truck. It was actually the fastest vehicle in Ford's entire model range for a brief period until a new Mustang SVT Cobra was released in 2003. On August 13, 2003, the Ford SVT F-150 Lightning was officially certified as the "World's Fastest Production Pickup Truck" by Guinness World Records, Ltd. after reaching 147 miles per hour. This was a bone-stock, unmodified Lightning. Capable of 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds and the 1/4-mile in 13.9 seconds (at 100 MPH), a stock Lightning is one fast vehicle, by any standards. It also generates .85g on a 100-foot skid pad and traverses the 80-foot slalom at 63.6 MPH, so its cornering ability is commendable as well. When the party is over, the Lightning's brakes can stop all of its 4700-lbs. from 60 MPH in only 136 feet, and needs 238 feet to stop from 80 MPH.

With many aftermarket enhancements, my particular Lightning pushes the factory performance envelope even further in several dimensions. The additional horsepower and torque pays dividends in a straight line, shaving over a second to 60 mph and reducing 1/4 times to 12 seconds flat in street trim (premium pump gas on street tires, at full weight with subwoofers, etc.). High-11's can be achieved by switching to racing slicks, which are good for a couple tenths with a good launch. Running higher-octane race fuel with additional timing (never attempted) brings the truck's performance potential to the mid-11-second range. Upgraded Roush Racing suspension components enhance high speed stability, handling, and cornering prowess, while traction bars help put all that power to the ground. I have never measured the top speed, but this Lightning will peg the 140 MPH speedometer easily.
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6. How loud is it?
This is of course a subjective assessment, but my answer is: pretty loud. It's significantly louder than a stock Lightning, but not nearly as loud as one with headers and gutted catalytic convertors. At idle, the truck has a nice subdued burble, and once underway emits a typical V8 exhaust note with a deep, rich tone and menacing bark at full-throttle. The Bassani stainless steel exhaust system is very popular with Lightning owners because it doesn't sound cheap or raspy--instead it has a very clean and crisp character cruising around town that really comes to life at wide open throttle. Your neighbors will certainly hear you coming and going, but it's not loud enough to attract unnecessary attention from the police (unless you floor it). There is a little drone inside the cabin at certain highway speeds, but the amplified stereo system compensates easily or you can choose to drive a little slower or faster to improve the harmonics. Obviously, the best way to enjoy the sound of the truck is with the windows down, at any speed. Back to top

7. What kind of fuel economy does it get?
I get between 13 and 14 MPG around town, and have seen as high as 17 MPG on the highway, which is the same as I observed when the truck was bone stock. In other words, none of the modifications have hurt or affected fuel economy in any way, and my fuel consumption matches what I saw on my 2001 Lightning as well. It's not the most fuel-efficient vehicle on the road today, but it's not bad for a 500-horsepower 12-second performance truck. I prefer to measure "smiles-per-mile" than miles-per-gallon anyway. It may be possible to eek out a couple more MPG by leaning out the tune, as the truck does run a little rich right now (to be on the safe side). Back to top

8. What size are the wheels and tires?
The TSW Montage wheels are all 22 inches tall and 10 inches wide (half an inch wider than stock). The Nitto 420S tires are 295/30 R22. I did not go with significantly wider wheels for the rear because I didn't want to ruin the balance of the vehicle. The Lightning already understeers with the factory original 18x9.5's, and the staggered approach (with rears wider than the fronts) would just aggravate that understeer even further. I also like the ability to rotate the tires to optimize tire wear, and wanted to avoid any clearance issues or rubbing in the back. I'm very happy with the 22x10's all around, as they are just barely wider than stock and look more aggressive in a tasteful factory-tuned way without significantly affecting suspension load and geometry. Back to top

9. How do the low-profile tires and Roush suspension handle together? Is the ride rough or harsh?
The tires, wheels, and suspension components have been carefully matched and tuned for neutral handling characteristics. Roush originally designed the stock Lightning suspension for Ford, so their upgraded hardware complements the Lightning perfectly. The soft stock ride has been replaced with enhanced road sensitivity and confidence-inspiring grip and control. The vehicle pitches and dives less during acceleration and braking, and remains relatively flat on corners, exhibiting progressive body roll. The ride is tight and athletic, but I would not describe it as harsh or rough (though I try to avoid potholes and slow down as much as possible for railroad tracks and speed bumps). The original 18" wheels gave the Lightning a comfortable ride and excellent isolation from the road but the higher-rated rear leaf springs used in 2003+ Lightnings contributed the most to any ride harshness (and those springs have since been replaced with Roush leaf springs that are easier to live with on a daily basis). The ride quality is somewhat reduced with the 22" wheels and tires because the sidewalls are shorter, but they are pretty compliant and have enough cushioning for most bumps. The low-profile tires enhance steering responsiveness and road feel, but also make the vehicle more sensitive to road imperfections at the same time. Tire selection and construction play a big part in this. It's also important to note that tire pressure adjustments can facilitate further tuning should different qualities be desired. I notice a difference (in perceived ride quality and tracking ability) with only 2 psi adjustments. 38 PSI (cold) seems to strike an ideal balance of comfort and responsiveness. For me, the enhanced looks and handling of the 22" wheels is well worth the small loss in comfort. Having owned many vehicles with both plus-size and stock-size wheels, I can honestly admit that I would never trade my Lightning's excellent control and agility for the original ride (with its somewhat vague steering) any day. Besides, the sporting look of the 22" wheels is killer! Back to top

10. Do you still have the factory wheels or any other original parts from the vehicle?
I have since sold the original factory wheels, but they can be purchased new at the dealer or found second-hand for a few hundred dollars. I also sold the original Eaton supercharger a long time ago after upgrading to the Works 112 rear-inlet supercharger. Other take-off parts that I have kept in my garage include the stock intake air box, accessory belt, pulleys, front license plate bracket, lug nuts, and assorted bits like hoses, fittings, and bulbs. I still have the lowering shackles from my old Ground Force/Ford Racing Performance Parts (FRPP) suspension kit, in case the back is still not quite low enough for the next owner. I also have some brand new parts that have never been used but stockpiled "just in case" such as a head gasket, intake manifold gasket, coil pack, foglight housings, NGK BR7EF and Motorcraft spark plugs. In addition, I have a set of slightly used seat bottom cushions and covers that served as an insurance policy against accidental spills or stains (that never occurred). Other odds and ends include alternate floor mats (black carpeting with red "Lightning" embroidery), red Lightning logo fender covers, and a black hanging wall "flag" with silver Lightning logo. Even though I now use a Porsche Cayenne 18x8 alloy wheel as the spare (with a 235/60 R18 Michelin MXM4 tire), I still have the factory spare wheel/tire. Back to top

11. Can this vehicle be used for hauling or towing?
Yes, 2003 Lightnings came from the factory with a Class III tow hitch, engine oil cooler, and auxiliary transmission cooler. Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 lbs. While Ford claims the maximum payload (in the bed of the truck) is 1350 lbs., the Roush suspension may reduce this figure somewhat. Even though the Roush leaf springs have a higher spring rate than the stock setup, clearance before bottoming out the suspension is reduced by the lowered ride height, which is really the only limitation to how much you can put in the bed. To increase payload capacity, one could always add helper air bags (for around $200). Back to top

12. Who performs the maintenance on the vehicle?
I handle minor things like spark plug changes, switch/sensor/bulb replacements, and other easy repairs myself. I prefer to let the big boys do the major work, especially if it requires a lift or special tools. All major repairs and maintenance activities have been performed by my trusted mechanics, who are more than qualified to work on my vehicle. For the first 23,000 miles while I lived in Virginia, the truck was professionally serviced and maintained by Eddie Guilford, a technician and SVT specialist at Ted Britt Ford dealership in Fairfax, VA. Eddie owned a 2001 Lightning and is a performance enthusiast like myself. He also meticulously performed all service activities on my previous 2001 Lightning. Chris McDuff and Torey Russo also took great care of me at Excessive Motorsport. A well-known speed shop specializing in Lightnings and Mustangs, Excessive Motorsport is an active supporter of the Northern Virginia Lightning Owners & Performance Enthusiasts (NVLOPE) club. During club "Dyno Day" events, I probably made 20 before-and-after dyno pulls at their facility, with Chris' crew installing bolt-ons in between runs.

After I moved to Georgia, my factory warranty expired so I decided to find a reputable independent speed shop. Tim Matherly and the guys at MV Performance were highly recommended by Georgia Lightning Club members and other local Ford enthusiasts, so I gave them a call when I needed some work done. Tim is well-known among Ford Mustang circles as an excellent tuner, engine builder, and racer who has enjoyed many years of considerable success in the NMRA racing series. He recently won a Championship in the 5.0 Real Street Category, with several other customer vehicles rounding out the Top 10 spots last season. While MV Performance focuses on Mustangs, they are race-proven Ford modular motor experts and also happen to work on a few Lightnings and Harley Davidson Edition F-150's in between their more competitive efforts. If you would like to speak with Tim about the quality of care we have lavished on my vehicle in his 11,000 sq-ft, climate-controlled shop, feel free to contact him directly yourself at 770.725.7862. He knows me and my truck very, very well!

For a complete listing of all service activity details, please refer to the service history page elsewhere in this site. Back to top

13. How many more miles do you expect out of the vehicle before a major rebuild or overhaul?
Considering there are only 13,XXX miles on the motor, I think it will be a very long time before any of the engine internals need to be touched or refreshed. The Works 112 supercharger has approximately 50,XXX miles on it, and while the supercharger oil is supposed to be good for the life of the blower, I check it regularly anyway and it is clean and has not changed in level. The supercharger rotors probably have some wear commensurate with the blower's age, but should have plenty of life left before a rebuild is necessary. The modified 4R100 transmission comes from Ford Super Duty Power Stroke turbo diesel applications, so it's a very stout and rugged unit, able to handle extreme amounts of torque. Nonetheless, the transmission is still original and I have taken every possible precaution to protect and preserve it. Besides adding a larger capacity 4x4 pan and filling the transmission with very expensive synthetic Mobil 1 ATF, I installed a Factory Tech Valve Body (FTVB) at 5,431 miles when the truck was relatively new and unmodified. In addition to offering better performance, the FTVB generates less heat, reduces clutch slippage and wear on the friction plates, and prevents common transmission failures. Furthermore, the factory "4-cylinder shutdown" (torque reduction at gearshifts) and stock line pressure have been kept in the tune, since changing the line pressure has been known to cause pump problems. Many people take the easy route and increase shift firmness by raising the line pressure in the tune software, but this is a common mistake that will ultimately hurt transmission longevity. Another well-documented ailment of all 2nd generation Lightnings is ingestion of oil from the PCV system. This oil coats the intercooler and lower intake manifold over time, reducing intercooler efficiency and possibly lowering the octane of fuel being burned in the combustion chamber (which can be dangerous if it leads to detonation). I have installed an L&S oil separator kit to address this problem, and the intercooler was cleaned and inspected the last time the engine was apart (less than 13,XXX miles ago). The least reliable parts on the truck have been the aftermarket Crower valve springs, which were supposedly designed to match the Crower Stage 2 cams. They were clearly not up to the task, and have failed on me twice at significant expense both times. I have since replaced the faulty Crower valve springs with much stronger valve springs from COMP Cams. These new valve springs are rated to 120 lbs. of pressure and have visibly better construction than the weaker Crower springs (which upon inspection show a very coarse texture with many casting imperfections that may have also contributed to mechanical failure).

Since a catastrophic failure of the drivetrain is now unlikely, the remaining life of the vehicle will be determined by regular wear and tear. The "new" engine should easily be in service for 100,000+ miles with regular maintenance, and the transmission and rear differential should only need fluid changes. All forward gears and reverse engage quickly and smoothly, and the limited slip differential still leaves 2 nice black marks on the road. All scheduled maintenance activities have been diligently performed at the appropriate mileage intervals for each service. I have always used Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil, changing the oil and filter every 3-5K miles. The vehicle does not leak a drop from anywhere. With a rejuvenated powertrain and recently refreshed Roush suspension, this particular Lightning is ready for many more years of enjoyment. I feel confident driving this vehicle anywhere (it's already served me very reliably on numerous road trips). Back to top

14. Has the vehicle ever been in an accident?
(UPDATED) Curse my luck! Yes, the vehicle was just recently involved in a very minor low-speed accident that didn't cause any damage worth repairing. Basically, I could not stop in time and barely tapped the car in front of me. I was going so slowly and the impact was so slight, the airbags didn't even deploy and the only damage was limited to the front bumper cover, which suffered some fine scratches from contacting the other car's bumper. Had there been another 6 inches of cushion, I would still be able to say the vehicle has never been involved in a car accident or collision. Oh well, I guess my luck had to run out some time. At least it wasn't very serious and no repairs were necessary.

All body panels are original. The only bodywork that has ever been performed was a re-spray of the front bumper cover (to correct some rock chips) and refinishing of the passenger side door around the door handle (to fix some scratches), The paint color match on the front bumper cover and passenger door is perfect, but to be honest the finish quality on the door is only "acceptable" to me. There is nothing terribly wrong with it, but if you're picky like me and look very closely, you may notice some imperfections in the clearcoat. The truck looks beautiful from normal viewing distances and the finish problems haven't worried me enough to take corrective action. Nobody notices until I mention it, but a professional body technician or automotive detailer might recognize the flaws.
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15. What parts have you replaced recently?
I have replaced many parts on the vehicle, spending over $32,000 (yes, thirty-two thousand dollars!) on maintenance and upgrades while I have owned it. Here is a quick list of some of the items that I have replaced (or installed) in the past year (beginning with those items replaced most recently):
  • Bassani BX250MC metal catalytic convertors
  • COMP Cams valve springs (26125-16)
  • intake and exhaust valves
  • main bearings
  • Felpro multi-layer head gaskets
  • NGK TR-6 spark plugs
  • output shaft speed sensor (on rear differential)
  • driver-side Bassani stainless steel Y-pipe segment (54150L-3)
  • pistons (CP/Modmax forged 17cc dish)
  • rod bearings
  • Canton oil pan and pick-up
  • ported and polished Ford Romeo heads
  • closed-end lug nuts and locking lug nuts
  • rear brake pads
  • 235/60 R18 Michelin MXM4 spare tire on Porsche Cayenne 18x8 spare wheel
  • billet aluminum wheel adapters (5x135 87mm to 5x130 71.5mm)
  • 22x10 TSW Montage wheels with 295/30R22 Nitto 420S tires
Please consult the
Service History page for exact dates and mileage figures for each item. That page also lists all items replaced during other service activities. Back to top

16. Why are you selling the vehicle?
I haven't had the time or patience to enjoy the vehicle as much as I would like, so I would like to find a good home for my baby. Plus my wife just got a new car and now I've caught the new car itch too! The Lightning has been a great vehicle for me--I've now owned two back-to-back since September 2001, so after driving a Lightning for almost 7 years, I just feel it's time for a change. Back to top

17. Is there anything wrong with vehicle?
Not really. Every accessory works, the air conditioning is frigid cold, and there are no major cosmetic blemishes inside or out. The vehicle doesn't really need anything (it's ready to go "as is"), and it wouldn't take much to make it perfect (see my comments above about the questionable clearcoat on the passenger door). I do notice that on really severe bumps, the traction bars may contact the exhaust, which produces a metallic clang that sounds worse than it actually is. The JLP traction bars are designed to offer the most exhaust clearance, but the Bassani exhaust piping crosses within a few inches of the passenger-side traction bar so excessive suspension travel results in slight contact. If I'm being nit-picky, I would say that I don't like how the Stage 2 cams and resulting lack of vacuum at idle have made it difficult to tune the truck at start-up (ignition). If the engine is warm, the truck will crank longer than usual on approximately 1 out of every 5 attempts, but it starts up the first time every time when the engine is cold. I've spent hours trying to correct this with 3 different tuners, and everyone says the same thing: it's part of the drivability trade-off when using aggressive cams. After researching online message forums, it seems to be a common side-effect after installing wilder cams (so much vacuum was lost that I had to install a separate reservoir to restore the vacuum assist to the brakes!). The hot-start delay only really happens when running multiple errands around town (mostly in the summer when the engine doesn't have a chance to cool off between stops), and if you tap the throttle once while cranking, the truck will immediately catch and start right up. At one time, I did have the tune programmed to start up every time (even when the engine was warm between trips), but I didn't like the idle RPM or associated "creep" (the truck drove itself up to a certain MPH) so I've reverted to a happy medium and just learn to slightly touch the gas pedal whenever it takes longer to crank. It's more of an operational nuisance than something actually "wrong" with the vehicle. I guess that's the price one pays when deviating so much from stock. Back to top

18. Why should I buy a 2003 model year Ford SVT Lightning instead of one built in 1999-2000 or 2001-2002?
The 2nd generation Ford F-150 SVT Lightning was built for 5 years, beginning in 1999 and ending in 2004. Generally speaking, the 2003-2004 models are the most desirable years to own because they are the latest and most refined examples, representing the final culmination of every incremental improvement that occurred throughout the Lightning's production history.

The 1999 Lightnings celebrated Ford's return to the performance truck market, but were only offered in 3 colors (black, red, and white) with black plastic mirror housings--all subsequent model years had matching body color mirrors. The Class III tow hitch and 6-disc CD changer, which were standard equipment on future Lightnings, were only optional on the 1999 model. 1999 Lightnings also lacked tinted privacy rear glass, and were the only models to forego an overhead console (appearing on later models, the overhead console housed a digital compass and temperature gauge in addition to storage compartments). In 2000, Ford offered a 4th color (silver) and the 12mm wheel studs used on 1999 Lightnings were superseded by stronger 14mm studs. Both 1999 and 2000 models suffered from a few early production shortcomings. For example, they have smaller intercoolers that were prone to leaking. This prompted Ford to later issue a recall replacing the flawed 1999-2000 intercoolers with a larger, updated design (first introduced in the 2001 model). The intercooler recall may or may not have been performed under warranty, so it's worth confirming this for any 1999 or 2000 Lightnings under consideration. 1999-2000 Lightnings also had a smaller 80mm Mass Air Flow (MAF) meter, 3.5" steel driveshaft, and taller rear gear ratio of 3.55:1. With "only" 360 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque, buyers wanted additional performance and Ford answered them in 2001.

Through several mechanical changes and better factory tuning, the 2001 (and later) models produced 380 horsepower and 450 lb-ft. The key advantages of the 2001+ engine include a bigger 90mm MAF, updated lower intake manifold, and revised intercooler design with larger capacity. Coupled with a 3:73 rear end, a lighter 4.5" aluminum driveshaft, and Bilstein shock absorbers, the 2001 model raised the performance bar for the Lightning series and represented a mild technological leap over its 1999 and 2000 predecessors. Cosmetically, the 2001 Lightning benefited from a new wheel design and several visual enhancements that made it appear much more modern than the outgoing 2000 (and 1999) models. New crystal-clear reflector-optic lenses for the headlights, taillights, and foglights replaced the dated prism-optic lights (which became hazy with time). The 2001 models also added an LED third brake light and featured integrated turn signals in the side mirrors. Furthermore, the original honeycomb upper and lower grills were updated to more aggressive horizontal slats. While Ford introduced many significant changes in 2001, 2002 Lightnings were mechanically identical to 2001 models and saw very minor updates. Besides the addition of a new color (True Blue), Ford made locking lug nuts and a keypad entry system standard features for all Lightnings, and slightly revised the interior grab handle design. More importantly, a new rear window seal made its debut, eliminating gaps and water leaks that sometimes plagued the older window seal design.

The next and final product refresh occurred in 2003, as Ford continued to improve the Lightning into its most refined and advanced state. SVT incorporated a number of changes for the 2003 model year, addressing problems commonly found in earlier models. Most significantly, the 2003 engine blocks were reinforced with thicker main webbing, and '03 Lightnings benefited from revised cylinder heads that featured 8 threads per spark plug hole. Spark plugs were susceptible to ejection from the 4-thread heads used in earlier model years, and many Lightning owners (myself included, on my 2001 model) experienced this failure (sometimes at great expense to repair). In addition, 2003+ models boasted the highest payload rating and an updated, more efficient water pump impeller. 2003 Lightnings also enjoyed interior improvements like satin chrome door handles, updated grab handles, a perforated leather steering wheel, relocated glove box handle, and plusher carpeting. An integrated 6-disc CD changer also graced the dashboard, and child safety seat tether strap anchors were added to the passenger seat. Ford also redesigned the foglights to eliminate the lens cracking problem reported by 2001 and 2002 Lightning owners. New wheels and two new colors (Sonic Blue and Dark Shadow Gray) further distinguished the 2003 model year. There are no known production differences between the 2003 and 2004 model years, so Ford got things right with the 2003 Lightning (and SVT had since refocused their efforts on other projects anyway). For those that discount the difference in reliability between various model years, let me share some personal ownership statistics: the 2001 Lightning that I drove 23,000 miles over a year and a half spent a cumulative total of 80 days at the dealership for several different warranty repairs. I've logged twice as many miles on my 2003 Lightning in 5 years, and it's only been to the dealership 3 times for (very minor) warranty-related repairs, never once requiring an overnight stay.

In summary, used 1999 models will generally be the most affordable as they are the oldest Lightnings, but that also means they might be the most tired and worn examples. They also represent a gamble as far as first-year-production gremlins go. 2000 Lightnings had body colored mirrors but otherwise share the most dated wheel-, grill-, head- and taillight designs with the 1999 models. In addition, 1999-2000 models only made 360 horsepower and are limited by their smaller MAF, smaller intercooler, and less efficient lower intake manifold. 2001 and 2002 models are very similar to each other, being the first models making 380 horsepower and featuring more modern headlight and taillight lenses. However, like the 1999 and 2000 models, the 2001 and 2002 models are handicapped by their questionable 4-thread heads. The 2003-2004 models are the latest iteration of the 2nd generation Lightning, and tend to be the most reliable due to their mechanical refinements (8-thread heads, beefier blocks, better water pump impeller). 2004 models are usually the most expensive as they are the newest. For these reasons, the 2003 model represents a nice value, offering all of the factory updates and features incorporated in the 2004 models, with prices just shy of the somewhat newer but mechanically identical 2004 models..
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19. Why should I pay more to buy your vehicle when I can find others for less money?
This vehicle is not just any regular F-series pickup truck. There are several features that make this particular vehicle more valuable and attractive to Ford enthusiasts and car connoisseurs alike. From the day it was manufactured, this Lightning already belonged to a very exclusive and rare group of automobiles. The SVT Lightning served as the performance flagship in Ford's line-up for a while until the 2003 SVT Cobra arrived on the scene, and the Lightning always commanded a premium over more pedestrian Ford models. It was the undisputed performance truck king for several years, and offered the best bang-for-buck performance value among any new cars or trucks available at the time. As with anything bearing "SVT" (Special Vehicle Team) badging, the Lightning was produced in relatively limited numbers compared to its more ubiquitous F-150 siblings. Furthermore, 2nd generation Lightnings were only available in six different colors, and Sonic Blue happens to be the 2nd rarest color (next to True Blue), accounting for only 4.7% of all Lightning production. There are only 1,319 Sonic Blue Lightnings in the world, and of that number, 723 Sonic Blue Lightnings were built in 2003. These facts alone make finding a nice 2003 Sonic Blue Lightning difficult indeed.

Now consider the current market of older, abused, high-mileage Lightnings and my vehicle continues to stand out. It is in excellent shape and looks more like a new vehicle than one built in 2003. The body, paint, and trim are all in great condition. The air conditioning is freezing cold, the aftermarket stereo sounds great, and all of the power accessories work flawlessly. The Alcantara and leather interior has survived well over the years, and has seen little passenger traffic. The mechanicals have been maintained by the best factory-trained and independent mechanics in the business, and the big-ticket items have already been replaced. I have also invested a lot of money and labor in upgrading everything from the suspension and wheels to the stereo and of course, the custom-built race motor. All in all, I have over $32,000 in receipts, which means I've sunk enough money into this truck to pay for it twice! My pain is your gain. It is ready for many more years of enjoyment and needs nothing. I constantly receive compliments on my Lightning and people cannot believe how well it looks and runs at such age and mileage. Most importantly, the vehicle has been driven and maintained by a single conscientious and responsible owner. Why gamble on another car with an unknown history and an untold number of owners, when you can bet on a sure thing? This Lightning has been cared for and driven by the same original owner its entire life! This is not a garage queen, and it has served me well as a driver for almost 5 years. It was spec'd at the factory as a driver's car (not a work truck!), and deserves to be driven and appreciated by another Ford enthusiast.

If you are looking for "just another" Lightning at an affordable price, then you may find a more suitable vehicle elsewhere. If you are looking for a great example of one of Ford's finest vehicles with a lot of extra performance goodies, then this is the right vehicle for you. Every modification was tastefully selected and executed in a conservative "factory-tuned" approach, and nothing on the outside screams "look at me!" In fact, there's not much about the truck that gives away its performance potential. People recognize that it's a "nice truck" but very few realize what it's capable of just by looking at it. In that regard, it's somewhat of a sleeper.

If you're looking for a solid platform to modify further, then this truck makes a perfect candidate for you too. I've even given you a head-start: the custom built race engine (with its forged crankshaft, forged pistons, forged connecting rods, Stage 2 cams, oversize valves, and custom head porting), makes a great foundation for extracting more performance out of the supercharged 5.4-liter V8. Just add a few bolt-ons (like a bigger blower, better fuel injectors, and long-tube headers) and crank up the boost, and you can easily increase output by another several hundred horsepower (and bring the truck into the 10-second range in the 1/4-mile) without having to touch or upgrade any of the engine's internals.
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20. Why have you built such a big website to sell your vehicle? Are you a dealer?
No, I am a private owner who just happens to care a lot about my vehicle. I have been an active National Lightning Owners Club (NLOC) member for 7 years, have owned two Lightnings, and am a true enthusiast. Hopefully this website will help justify my asking price by showing potential buyers that I have been a very meticulous owner. Back to top

21. Who do I contact for more information about the vehicle?
You can contact me, Ben Trapp (the owner) for any additional questions. Please view my Contact page to see how you may reach me. Back to top