Since its introduction as a 1993 model, Ford's SVT Lightning has dominated the performance-pickup-truck market. From that first 240-horse/351-cubic-inch V-8 regular cab, the Lightning has progressed to today's 380-horse tire-shredder.

This year, Chevrolet entered the fray with the Silverado SS (see "Power to the People," elsewhere in this issue), but at 345 horsepower, it's anemic in comparison. For 2004, Dodge comes to play in the Hi-Po sandbox when the Viper-powered SRT-10 appears in dealer showrooms. At 500 horses and 525 lb-ft of torque, the SRT-10 looks to dethrone the Lightning as the world's fastest pickup--or will it?

If SVT's godfather and program director, John Colletti, has his way, a Mopar product will never dethrone a Lightning.

To combat the Dodge boys, Colletti is punching up the SVT's '04 Lightning concept, which debuted at the 2003 North American International Auto Show. Based on the upcoming 2004 Ford F-150, the Lightning concept takes any inkling of an ordinary pickup and throws it out the window.

If there's one aspect of the truck we hope makes it to production, it's the powertrain. Conservatively rated at 500 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque, the supercharged and intercooled 5.4-liter DOHC V-8 uses Manley rods, two injectors per cylinder, and four-valve aluminum heads. The engine also incorporates a forward-thinking speed secret for when you need an extra boost of power.