Among the Lightning concept's many features raising the performance bar:
The 32-valve supercharged engine uses patented ‘SuperCooler’ technology. Perhaps it should be called ‘SuperCooletti’ after SVT chief engineer John Coletti who both heads Ford SVT and patented the SuperCooler design himself. Coletti came up with a very practical way to provide a burst of power by using the truck’s air conditioning compressor to chill a small storage tank of coolant to 30-degrees Fahrenheit and then dump this coolant right into the supercharger’s intercooler with the touch of a button. The result is a 20% drop in air temperature that creates a higher density of air by volume for better combustion and higher horsepower - around 50-hp more for up to 30 to 40 seconds at wide-open throttle.
Scarpello referred to SuperCooler as renewable nitrous oxide only much safer and regenerating. “The SuperCooler patent has been around for about 10 years,” according to Scarpello, “but it just hasn’t found the right application yet. It’s definitely production feasible and could be used across our entire line of vehicles.”
Nobody has tested the Lightning for 30-seconds yet with the SuperCooler at full throttle.
6-speed manual transmission
With 500 ponies waiting to be unleashed, how to make them do what you want them to do? That’s easy if you are one of the lucky people that work on Ford’s Special Vehicles Team. You call up your pals that worked on the Mustang Cobra and get a T56 Tremec 6-speed manual transmission. Since the interior of the uplevel trim 2004 Ford F-150 Lariat uses a center console with a gated shifter the smooth shifting T56 was an easy fit.
Does that mean the next generation Lightning will have a 6 speed manual? Scarpello says that Ford is going to listen closely to people that drive the current Lightning and they are also going to watch how Dodge tackles shifting performance on the SRT-10. “At this volume (around 5000 units) it’s hard to offer a powertrain option so we’re still not sure what kind of transmission the Lightning will have.”
Rumors have been heard that the 2004 SVT Mustang Cobra will receive Formula One-style paddles shifters mounted on the steering wheel for ‘manumatic’ gear changes. This could turn out to be the best of both worlds for SVT Lightning fans.
Independent Rear Suspension (IRS)
To improve ride and handling the Lightning concept uses an independent rear suspension adapted for this truck from Ford’s Expedition SUV. It’s different from the Hotchkiss-type live-axle, leaf spring rear on the standard F-150 and it helps reduce unsprung weight to better dial-in the Lightning’s handling characteristics.
Alan Hall, Ford SVT communications manager, says that “The independent rear (suspension) is something we could definitely do.”
Visible through the Lightning concept’s six-spoke wheels are equally impressive Brembo brakes – six-piston calipers in front, four-piston at the rear – mated to platter-sized, 380-millimeter, cross-drilled ventilated discs. Scarpello says that with all that go power SVT Lightning customers have they can also be sure that they will be able to stop safely and in full control. “The point with the brakes is that we’ll definitely have very serious brakes but not the same brakes as the show truck.”