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2003 Ford F150 Lightning - Rapid Transit

Go-To Personal Jet

Brandan Gillogly
Feb 1, 2010
Photographers: Brandan Gillogly
Chartering a private jet has its benefits. No security lines to hassle with, no waiting for your "zone number" before you can board, and receiving first-class service all the way. Then again, half the fun of traveling can be just getting there. Unless you're the pilot and you pull a Maverick, buzzing the tower a hair's breadth above the ground, there's really no visceral indication of speed. Even if you did, you'd have a hard time making it past the FAA unscathed. Dustin Zdenek could have funneled his funds into expensive jet travel and would have bought himself a few hassle-free trips, but what would be the fun in that? Instead, he built a beast of an F-150 that's at the ready to slingshot him and a passenger just about anywhere.
Photo 2/8   |   2003 Ford F150 Lightning right Side Angle
Dustin started with an '03 F-150 Lightning. Already no slouch, the factory-supercharged regular cab stepside trucks have a reputation for dragstrip heroics, but Dustin saw it only as a stepping off point. Relaxed Customs in Westlake, California, is responsible for how the Lightning looks, as Eibach springs and shackles dropped the already-lowered truck just a few more inches and QA1 adjustable shocks were added to each corner. The new stance drops the wheelwells over 295/45ZR20 Yokohama rubber and 20x8.5-inch Foose Spank wheels that have been coated in black chrome, with just a bit of cherry tint.
For the really fun stuff, Dustin handed the truck over to Earl's Automotive where the 5.4L engine was rebuilt using JDM Engineering heads, custom Crower cams, Kooks full-length headers and a 2.3L Kenne Bell supercharger that puts out 21 pounds of boost. The boosted air travels through a double-pass heat exchanger before being fed to the CNC ported heads. The extra power is channeled through an ACT-built transmission with Stage-3 torque converter, which connects to a 2001 Lightning aluminum driveshaft. Receiving the transferred power is an Eaton limited-slip differential with 3.73 gears. The payoff for such an easy-breathing engine: 630 hp and 700 lb-ft of torque.
Relaxed also handled the bodywork on the Ford, as smooth stepside inserts, and bed caps were prepped along with Street Scene mirrors and roll pan. The leading edge of the truck was freshened up with a steel cowl-induction hood and the factory bumper was moved up 1/2-inch to tighten the body gaps. After the tailgate handle and antenna were shaved, Relaxed prepped the body and Gaylord tonneau cover and sprayed the metallic base and red candy to get the timeless glowing candy-apple red effect. With the truck buffed to perfection, a black chrome powdercoated billet grille finished the exterior.
Relaxed Customs wasn't done just yet however, as they still needed to add their touch on the interior. A Clarion head unit was matched with an MTX Thunderform sub enclosure behind the seat and is powered by Carbon Alloy Power amps. A set of billet pedals and doorsills and an Auto Meter A-pillar pod round out the additions to the clean and uncluttered interior.
Dustin's beastly Lightning has got everything you could want in a performance truck: looks, handling, and of course power. With 10-second 1/4-mile times and turn-key reliability, it's no wonder this is Dustin's go-to personal jet.



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