Wait, what was that last one, again? The Ford fans out there are forgiven if they're shout at their computers: "There was no such thing as a Lightning Bolt Ranger!" Ah, but there was. I've driven it. On a dragstrip. I even outran Mustangs with it. It was one of the coolest trucks I've yet experienced - and sadly I'll never own one and neither will you.
What we have here is a one-off pickup created by the SVT engineers back in the early 2000s. It was a sort of after-hours project for the (possibly insane) Blue Oval boffins to see what kind of beast would result from cramming the big ‘ol supercharged V8 engine from the famous SVT Lightning pickup into a tiny, featherweight regular cab Ranger.
Read about the nitty-gritty of the Lightning Bolt here (I'm pretty sure that's me in the red shirt three photos down...) but the Coles Notes are: Small truck, plus big power equals epic performance.
As an aside to the 2004 SEMA show, we got to drive the Lightning Bolt Ranger on the drag strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It took special skill to tame the truck. When the lights went green, if you rolled into the throttle, exactly as instructed by the SVT engineers, the Bolt would smoke a Cobra Mustang in the quarter mile. Mat the gas like a holligan though, and the rear wheels would simply spin like mad and the Ranger would pivot on its axis, fumbling to cope with the rumoured 460 lb-ft of torque dumped at its poor rear tires.
In the end it seems, like unchaining Hades’ Cerberus, Ford thought it unwise to unleash the mighty Lightning Bolt on the unsuspecting public. Just this prototype was built.
In the years since, whenever I run into a long-standing SVT engineer, I ask we’re that little blue ball of fury ended up. They just smirk and mumble some corporate line about it going to the car crusher as is company policy.
I'd love to know where it really is now. Under a tarp somewhere in a Detroit warehouse next to the prototype for the defunct front-wheel drive Mustang? Or better yet, terrorizing local motorists on a Dearborn backroad?
I may never know.
Which is exactly what makes the memory of the Lightning Bolt all the more alluring…
Don't forget to check out our "20 Years of SVT" gallery!