1999 Ford F-150 Lightning - Stealth Fighter
Flying Below the Radar -- But Always Ready to Strike
Pilots of the F-117 Stealth Fighter referred to themselves as bandits, because their planes were virtually impervious to radar and they could slip into a hot zone, drop their payload, and skirt off before anyone could do anything. When behind the wheel of our 1999 Lightning, dubbed Stealth Fighter, it’s hard not to think of yourself as a man with bad intentions. With more than 460 rwhp, a suspension that rivals a sports car, and slick looks that make people scratch their heads, this machine will transform your opinion of a performance muscle truck. Besides a stiff ride and loud roar of the blown V-8, there are no compromises when driving fast, cruising, or just looking for your next prey.
In its previous life, the Lightning was considered “custom” because of its orange and white two-tone paintjob with barbed wire breaking up the two colors. That was in 2000. Fast-forward to 2014, and SVT’s performance truck looks more like the 2004 concept that Ford never built. Long gone is the factory F-150 frontend, and in its place are parts from an 2005 Ford Expedition. South County Auto Body in Lake Forest, California, handled the new fenders, grille shell, hood, headlights, and core support from LMC Truck. A Street Scene front bumper cover, black Speed Grille inserts, and turn-signal mirrors add to the custom good looks. As you’re aware, Ford never built a Lightning with a fleetside bed, so to make things more interesting, we sourced a standard bed and swapped out the Flareside bed. Bed modifications include Street Scene smoothed bed caps, a Bullet Liner bedliner, and a Street Scene roll pan. Combine the frontend swap, bed swap, and PPG Aston Martin Casino Royale paint, and you have yourself a super-clean street terror.
Now that the truck was looking the part of a modern-day muscle truck, we needed a suspension that could embarrass even the most capable sports cars. To achieve this lofty goal, we rolled the Ford into our Eastwood Tech Center and got to work installing a full complement of parts from Hotchkis, Belltech, QA1, Stiffler’s, and Baer Brakes. After the new suspension was in place, the Lightning sat 4 inches lower up front and 6 inches out back, the chassis was incredibly stiff, and it hooked like nobody’s business. Now all we needed was the perfect set of rolling stock to match the clean looks and performance capabilities. We found just that in spades with a set of 22-inch HRE TR45 wheels in matte gunmetal gray. Wrapped in Nitto NT555 ultra-high-performance tires, the Lightning was ready to do battle on the street or at the track. Choppin’ Block, up in Fresno, California, helped the large wheels and tires fit our slammed suspension by tubbing the front and adding an AVS under-bed C-notch out back.
Inside the two doors, the 15-year-old interior was starting to show a life of wear and tear. Providing a solid foundation for a bevy of upgrades, a thick layer of Hushmat was laid down for superior sound deadening and heat insulation. Placed directly over that, black ACC direct-fit carpet replaces the stained and worn factory gray carpet. Lloyd Mats was sourced for a pair of its ultra-plush mats, and the company was kind enough to embroider the Truckin logo in yellow to match the Baer calipers and yellow stitching in the Roadwire leather seats. Those seats combine smooth black leather and perforated leather for a look that is seen in high-end European exotics. Audio Innovations in Glendora, California, upgraded the audio with a Kenwood double-DIN head unit, five-channel Powerbass amp, two Powerbass 8-inch subs behind each seat, and Powerbass separates in the factory location. Thanks to the talented folks at 714 Motorsports, the headliner and visors were covered in black suede, and even the old steering wheel received a new dose of hand-stitched leather. Billet knobs and accent pieces from All Sales help liven up the sea of dark tones.
Everything you’ve read to this point is vital to complete the custom truck package. But Stealth Fighter was never intended to be just a pretty face -- we wanted the thing to scream. Enter Whipple Superchargers and its factory Lightning supercharger upgrade. It’s good for more than 90 rwhp by itself, and we threw the kitchen sink at the Whipple blower with an Afco Racing intercooler heat exchanger, Accufab throttle body and MAF sensor, Kooks long-tube headers, Banks Monster muffler, and custom Whipple ECU tune. The end result netted us 465 rwhp with an otherwise-stock 5.4L. Cue the burnouts.
The whole idea behind this project was to show you that a used truck can still look killer and perform at a high level if it’s given a second lease on life. New trucks are stupid expensive, and we realize not everyone can afford a $650-a-month truck payment. Hopefully, this build will inspire you to look out to your driveway and not give up on your current ride. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to fire it up and smash the throttle.
|1999 Ford F-150 Lightning|
|Type:||5.4L SOHC V-8|
|Induction:||Whipple supercharger, Whipple cool-air intake, Accufab throttle body, Accufab MAF|
|Cooling:||Afco Racing intercooler heat exchanger, Flex-a-Lite electric fan|
|Exhaust:||Kooks long-tube headers, Banks Monster muffler|
|Tuner:||SCT with custom laptop tune by Whipple Superchargers|
|uilt By:||Whipple Superchargers/Truckin magazine|
|Rearend:||Posi with 3.55 gears|
|Brakes:||Baer Extreme+ 15-inch rotors with six-piston 6S calipers (front), rear slotted rotors (rear)|
|Front Suspension:||Belltech 2-inch spindle with Baer hub, 1.5-inch Hotchkis drop spring, QA1 Street Stocker adjustable shocks, Hotchkis sway bar, Stiffler’s adjustable upper A-arm, Stiffler’s front chassis stiffening brace|
|Rear Suspension:||Belltech 4-inch shackle and hanger, Hotchkis 2-inch drop leaf spring, Hotchkis sway bar, QA1 Street Stocker adjustable shocks, Stiffler’s long-bar traction kit|
|WHEELS AND TIRES|
|Wheels:||22x10.5 HRE TR45 in matte gunmetal|
|Tires:||285/35R22 Nitto NT555|