Ford sends a message to loyal Lightning followers: “We Will Not Be Beat” says Tom Scarpello, Ford Special Vehicles Team Marketing and Sales Manager.
Scarpello sat down with PUTC to discuss his view of Ford SVT, SVT’s powerful new Lightning concept truck, and where the full size muscle truck market is possibly headed over the next few years.
SVT’s mission is simple according to Scarpello. “SVT is here to design, produce and market vehicles that polish the Ford Blue Oval.” Typically these vehicles are very short run, very high performance editions of Ford daily drivers like the 170-hp Focus, 390-hp Mustang Cobra and 380-hp F-150 Lightning.
“It’s not about making a lot of money (with SVT) because we would get lost as a rounding error inside Ford. Out total 2002 volume is only around 20,000 vehicles. That’s about 3-days worth of F-Series truck production,” says Scarpello.
Since 1999 Ford’s SVT Lightning has owned the full-size muscle truck market all to itself but that’s about to change. Crosstown rivals Chevrolet and Dodge are eyeing a piece of this turf for themselves. Chevrolet recently began selling its all new 345-hp Silverado SS, traditionally the yin to Lightning’s yang, and Dodge PVO is about to introduce what could be the biggest threat of all to SVT’s dominance, the 500-hp Ram SRT-10.
But Scarpello and the SVT team aren’t about to give up this hill without a brutal fight that’s likely to leave the competition bloodied and performance enthusiasts with supercharged dreams of streetlight and dragstrip wins.
Immediately following the introduction of the all new 2004 Ford F-150, SVT unveiled its Lightning concept, based on the all new truck, in a thunderous display of pyrotechnics. It’s aggressively sculpted body is clad in a liquid silver metallic skin that hunches over 22-inch wheels and wraps itself around a 500-hp/500lb-ft supercharged 5.4-liter V8.
According to Scarpello, while this isn’t the production Lightning, this concept is intended introduce to enthusiasts some potential features that could wind up in the next SVT Lightning and to gauge reaction from potential buyers.
“We didn’t look at improving any one thing in particular (with the Lightning concept over the current Lightning). We wanted to push the envelope and what we are playing around with because we know this next generation has to raise the bar a lot higher than it’s been set.”