Ah yes, the horsepower wars. We're talking serious ponies here, the kind, until now, you would only find in exotic supercars. But, as far as we're concerned, cars are for the other guys, and big horsepower and torque belong underneath the hood of a truck. Lucky for us, our friends at Dodge and Ford agree.
Ford's Lightning has been the undisputed power-pickup champ for years, "challenged" by competitors such as the Dodge Dakota R/T and AWD Chevy Silverado SS. But the tables have turned. Tired of seeing the SVT Ford guys repeatedly winning accolades with their supercharged Lightning, Dodge's Street and Racing Technology division (formerly Performance Vehicle Operation) worked its magic on a half-ton Ram and created an all-out, fire-breathing, Viper-powered muscle truck.
Ford's next-generation Lightning is at least a year away, so the Blue Oval boys are forced to rely on the current Lightning to compete with the new heavyweight from SRT. Naturally, we paired the two in a gloves-off street fight to determine if the new SRT has the brawn to KO the SVT.
More Power to Us
Ford's Lightning has been on sale since 1993, and the second-generation tested here is the most capable version to date. Powered by a Triton 5.4-liter SOHC V-8 and blown with an aluminum-case Eaton supercharger, the Lightning puts its 380 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque to the wheels via a 4D100 four-speed automatic transmission borrowed from the Super Duty. A heavy-duty torque converter transfers power through an aluminum driveshaft and into a nine-inch differential, fit with 3.73:1 gears.
Rather than simply surpassing the Lightning's horsepower numbers by a mere 20 or 40, Dodge insisted on bringing as much meat to the table as it could find. Naturally, it's Dodge's hope that it will be competitive even after the next-generation Lightning arrives. The 8.3-liter V-10 remains stock, for the most part, and gushes 500 horsepower and 525 pound-feet of torque while boasting a 505-cubic-inch displacement. Power is routed through the Viper's Tremec T56 six-speed manual transmission and spun down an aluminum driveshaft to special 4.11:1 gears.