Inside, the Lightning concept incorporates many of the 2004 F-150 Lariat trim pieces, but the thickly bolstered leather seats, console-mounted shifter, electroluminescent gauges, and red engine-start button are pure SVT. The mustard- and ebony-colored interior is harsh on our eyes, but we can't wait to see a gunmetal-gray Lightning shod in basic black leather.

Outside, aerodynamic aids have been crafted into the exterior: Twin venturi tunnels that wrap under the rear bumper are said to increase stability at high speeds and generate downforce. And the hard tonneau with spoiler also helps keep the rear wheels planted during quarter-mile runs.

If you thought the New Ram looked menacing in your rearview mirror, the 2004 Lightning will strike fear in the hearts of Peterbilt owners. An aggressive front fascia, with signature SVT round foglamps, dominates the nose, and a new hood with functional vents flows air to the intercooler. We like the hard- edge look of the truck and the purposeful sculpting to accommodate the twin- exhaust outlets.

Ask anyone at Ford if he wishes this truck were a production piece for the Company's centennial (and SVT's 10th anniversary) year, and the answer would be a resounding, "Heck, yes!" Unfortunately, getting the fourth-generation Lightning to market won't happen soon enough, but our best guess is that you'll see it sometime in 2005. For now, we'll just have to wait and burn through another set of rear tires in an '03 Lightning, still the fastest production pickup in the world. TT

EARLY SPECIFICATIONS:
2004 Ford SVT Lightning Concept
Body style 2-door, 3-pass
Price $40,000 (est)
Engine Supercharged/intercooled all-aluminum 5.4L DOHC 32-valve V-8
Horsepower 500+
Torque 500+
Transmission Tremec T-56 six-speed manual
Suspension, f/r Upper and lower wishbones, coil springs, shocks, anti-roll bar/Double A-arm, coil springs, shocks, anti-roll bar
Brakes, f/r Brembo 6-piston calipers, 15-inch vented and cross drilled rotors/Brembo 4-piston calipers, 15-inch vented and cross drilled rotors
0-60, sec 4.5 (est)
1/4 mile 12.5 @ 115 mph (est)
60-0, ft 118 (est)