PickupTruck.Com Brings you coverage from Las Vegas October 31-November 2, 2000

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FORD'S LIGHTNING STRIKES AGAIN WITH 2001 MODEL
By: Michael Levine

Lightning does indeed strike twice with the introduction of the new and improved 2001 Ford SVT F-150 Lightning at the 35th Annual SEMA show in Las Vegas.

Unveiled by Ford Specialty Vehicle Team's Chief Engineer, John Coletti, the 2001 Lightning is an improvement over the previous model in nearly every category.

The 2001 Lightning's 5.4-liter supercharged engine has been tweaked for improved breathability by enlarging the air inlet system 50%, opening the blower's butterfly valves simultaneously, not in stages, and installing a new casting for the lower intake manifold with reshaped ports to improve cylinder head air flow. The results: an increase in horsepower to 380hp, up from 360, an increase in torque to 450ft-lbs., up from 440, and a drop in 0-60 times from 6.2 to 5.8 seconds.

Tree huggers should be appeased. After all the engine enhancements, the 2001 Lightning now meets Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards three years ahead of the federally mandated schedule.

Ford has also created a new aluminum driveshaft for the Lightning. The driveshaft handles the higher rotational speeds from a taller 3.73:1 rear axle gear enabling Lightning owners to quickly take advantage of the truck's higher torque.

The Lightning's ride and handling characteristics have been improved through a partnership with Bilstein, maker of high performance shock absorbers. The monotube, gas-charged shocks offer a more comfortable ride over the previous shocks, especially on rough highways. Also helping improve handling, the right rear Bilstein shock has been positioned towards the front of the truck to limit axle tramp under full-throttle acceleration.

A second partnership, with Goodyear, has yielded high performance, custom created, Eagle F1-GS tires that adhere to the road using a newly formulated rubber compound. Edgy and angular rims provide the perfect setup for the tires.

The Lightning's regular cab exterior offers subtle improvements over the 2000 model to indicate its special nature.

Following one of the latest aftermarket trends, the Lightning's headlights, taillights, turn signals and fog lamps are crystal clear and provide a clean, jewel-like appearance. The CHMSL is now LED based and provides a slightly quicker response time during braking over conventional lights. The Lightning is the only Ford truck to arrive with the new light treatment for 2001.

The upper and lower grilles have been replaced with 'billet-inspired' horizontal bars.

Ford has been listening to consumer demand for the Lightning after last year's truck sold out so quickly. Production will be stepped up from the 5,000 units manufactured in 2000 to 7,500 units for 2001. The first Lightnings should begin rolling off the factory lines in December with new units expected to show up in dealerships by January.

More info to follow later...