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I stopped a few times down the road for pictures, sightseeing and other tourist activities such as buying gifts for family members. The coast highway is highly regulated and hardly developed, but there are exclusive restaurants, lodges and art galleries along the way. There are also landmarks such as the Hearst castle, beaches reserved for sea otters and elephant seals and Morro Rock. The relaxing late afternoon drive allowed time for thoughts and comparisons on the SRT, LRT and Lightning:

  • Dodge says about 3000 Ram SRT-10 trucks will be produced. The 1978 LRT had a production run of 2188 followed by 5118 in 1979.
  • The MSRP on our test truck was $45,795. Base price was $22,425 and the SRT option was $22,575.
  • The one big difference between the SRT-10 and the LRT is the exhaust note. The LRT barely passed local noise abatement levels and featured an unmistakable raucous V8 thunder. The SRT is over muffled and with good reason: V10 engines inherently sound like a UPS truck at low rpm. At full throttle they sound like a Formula 1 engine on steroids; but through most driving conditions on the street, the tone is hardly aggressive. You can make them loud but you can’t make ‘em nasty with just mufflers.
  • Ford won’t let the SRT-10 hold the crown for long. But what does the SVT group have to challenge 500 horsepower? How about 550 ponies? SVT is behind the 5.4-liter supercharged V8 engine in the new Ford GT. There may be packaging issues with the intake and exhaust if that engine was slipped under the hood of the new Lightning, but it would still be good for 525 to 530 horsepower. The big question: What transmission will Ford use? The GT has a transaxle, and the current 4-speed automatic in the Lightning would need serious upgrades to handle the extra 150 or so horsepower. Maybe Ford will offer a 6-speed Tremec similar to the one in the 2000 Cobra R? Of course, Dodge still has time to add more power before the next Lightning arrives.
  • The current Lightning is about 450 pounds lighter than the SRT-10. But the new Ford F-150 gained a lot of weight with the new platform. We’re curious to see how SVT will address that issue.
  • Since SRT has raised the bar so high in performance pickups, the $45,850 sticker price shouldn’t scare Ford. The current Lightning is about $12,000 cheaper than the SRT-10. Since SVT vehicles are meant to be exclusive, we say go all out and match the SRT-10 in features and horsepower while significantly reducing weight.
  • According to the Automotive Lease Guide (May, 2004), the industry standard for residual values, the current Lightning—which is in its last run of the old generation—would retain a higher percentage of its value than the new SVT-10 as a used vehicle. Guess than means SVT has done an outstanding job with brand management, customer satisfaction ratings and dealer training not to mention building collectable value into its vehicles.
  • Final fuel economy report: 865 miles, 67.9 gallons of 91 octane fuel, 12.74mpg, $176.87 total fuel bill. The final leg of my weeklong test covered 272 miles—half on the highway and half in congested traffic for 10.78mpg.
  • If you’re wondering, I had to get rid of my LRT about nine years ago after the Northridge earthquake. Last I heard, it found a good home at a Dodge dealership near New York City.

I’m starting to rant now. Time to concentrate on LA traffic as I head toward home. Many of you were probably hoping I would try a Cannonball-style, bonzai run through California. Trust me, this truck draw too many radar waves, even on city boulevards. But I’m convinced this is the most exciting, most capable performance truck ever built. I ran consistent low 13-second quarter mile times with one of the first Syclones built in 1989 and thought that truck was truly an engineering marvel and a bold move by GMC. Too bad the recession killed any chances of that milestone sport truck continuing. The SRT-10 runs the quarter mile in mid to high 13-second times but is more useful as a truck and better looking. I just wish Dodge would’ve put a little wood and chrome on it.

Click here for a report on the SRT-10 from the 2003 Chicago Auto Show.

Click here for PUTC’s first drive in the SRT-10 and closer look at the vehicle.

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