If the party's theme was sleek and sexy cars on a high-speed racetrack, why did we invite a pickup truck to the dance? Simply because the F-150 SVT Lightning is far from your typical pickup. With other manufacturers developing their own performance teams, more powerful sport trucks will begin to compete with what's been the undisputed heavyweight champ. Already, the Dodge Ram SRT-10 is due next year, and a more powerful Gen II Silverado SS is slated to appear not much longer after that.

As one of the first projects for the Special Vehicle Team (formed in 1993) at Ford, the Lightning now uses a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8, making 380 horsepower (with a two-valve SOHC head), inside a regular cab, shortbed pickup body. Big horsepower and not much weight make for an energetic ride to the tune of 13.7-seconds e.t.s and runs 0-60 in 5.2 seconds. In fact, Justin Bell, our resident Top-Speed driver (who said he'd never driven a pickup truck before) commented after an impressive 146-mph lap: "So this is why people like pickups...feels pretty stable when you slow to 120."

We think that, while the Lightning may be the most-expensive regular cab half-ton pickup sold at $33,555, its calculated horsepower/dollar ratio makes it a solid dance partner at any Top-Speed Boogie. And, as other trucks try to cut in on this Ford's reign, who knows? Maybe we'll do a Top-Speed Truck & SUV story someday.

"My first real immersion into a classic piece of American culture. It's got a big frontal area and seems to hit an aerodynamic wall at around 140. But, up to that point, it's powerful and steady. I finally get this pickup-truck thing."--Justin Bell

· Speeding! Top-Speed Shootout
· 2003 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
· 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10
· 2003 Ferrari 575M Maranello
· 2003 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning
· 2003 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra
· 2003 Jaguar XKR
· 2002 Lamborghini Murcielago
· 2003 Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG
· 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
· 2002 Mosler MT900 Photon
· The Performance Tests
· Behind the Scenes: Speeding!
· Wallpaper: Speeding!