2001 Ford Lightning

Well, believe it or not, the Lightning was not my first choice in vehicle. In fact, it was a long time after beginning my search that I even meet with a Lightning, face to face.

I actually started out looking for a car... I already had the Camaro and the Z28, and wanted something a little different. My first choice was the Pontiac Grand Prix GTP.It had a look all it's own. It had a supercharged V6, making 240HP (and modifications are possible)... The sticker was a reasonable $37,000 (all figures are in Canadian Funds). It looked like a really good option.

Grand Prix GTP

Then I tried to sit in the car... My smile quickly turned itself to a frown :( I'm a pretty big guy. I'm 6'6" and about 270lbs. There was just no way I could fit into the GTP. Just to have my head not touching the ceiling, I had to push the seat on such an angle that even my long arms couldn't reach the steering wheel. In retrospect, it's not a bad thing, since the GTP is just such a common vehicle... They're nice and can be relatively quick, but they just don't really stand out on the road. Maybe if I was looking for a sleeper, but just not the right fit, this time.

So the GTP was out (it was also FWD, anyway), but on the same lot was an S10 Xtreme. It looked nice - actually kinda flashy, rear wheel drive, and I fit! Could this be the one???

Chevrolet S10 Xtreme

Time for a test drive... Uh oh... Kinda feels weak. But the price was good at $28,000 (after tax) it was substantially less than the GTP, and there's a healthy aftermarket, too. I could use the savings to pump up the abilities of the truck to something more respectable. I honestly believe I would be driving this vehicle today, had the salesperson pushed a little harder. I really liked the truck, but we couldn't come to an agreement, mostly because the sales person was too soft, and unwilling to do any dealing without first checking with the manager.

I decided to wait a while, and really think out my decision. It should be noted that there were a few other quick considerations made, before I finally ended up at the Ford dealership. They are as follows:

Car

Reason why not

Subaru Impreza WRX

Too small, can't fit at all :(

Lexus IS300

Too small, don't fit well

Chevy Z28

Did I really want 3 Camaros

BMW 325

Fun and fit well, but I didn't feel worth the price with the options I wanted

Acura 3.2CL-S

Suspension felt mushy, FWD is not really my thing

My father has always driven Fords. He always will drive Fords. Actually, he owns the F-250 that can be seen in some of my pictures. Once I told my father that I was thinking about buying a truck, he began pushing me to try out the Ford offerings. Eventually, I decided I wasn't doing myself any justice by not making a completely informed decision. Off to the local Ford dealership I went. Ugh... I didn't much care for the styling of the Ranger, but the F-150 looked interesting.

Regular F150

I looked at the Super Cab 4x4 with the 5.4l engine. Well, it started off good... I fit in the F-150, with room to spare. The seats were comfortable, and the truck seemed to fit with my style a little more than the little S10 Xtreme. It was bigger, more of a work horse and looked meaner, to me at least. Time for a test drive! I was surprised by the lack of power the truck had. Based on the engine size, I figured this would be a brute. I wasn't expecting muscle car sensations, but was quite disappointed. The S10 felt quicker.

I explained my concern to the salesperson, (unknown to me I was at an Authorized SVT Dealership) and he responded, "Then, do I have the truck for you!" There it was, hidden inside the dealership. I had never seen a Lightning before. Not even images on the 'net, and definitely not in person.

My Lightning

Here I was, face-to-face with the perfect vehicle for me. It had everything I liked about the F-150, but improved upon it. A meaner look with the ground effects. The wheels, covered with monster rubber screamed high performance. The interior had a custom-look, with the black and gray captain's chair. And a torque-monster under the hood!!! This was the one for me!

My only question was what colour to get. It only took me a little while to figure that out. To me, the silver maintains the muscle-truck look, but gives it a little class. I see some of the if it's not "European it's crap" big-wigs at my work eye it up and down, on the rare occasions I drive it downtown to work. It really is a head-turner. There was a silver one at Donway Ford (Eglinton Ave. near Warden Ave.) in Toronto. Don Vass, the sales person, was fantastic. He let me take the Lightning for a brief test drive, and the smile on my face when I returned sealed the deal. I HAD to have one.

My long journey towards my first new vehicle came to an end, mid-July, 2001. I had a brand new SVT Lightning. While no where near what I had originally expected to get, there is absolutely no way I'd trade her for anything else I had looked at along the way.

On August 27, 2001 Don Vass gave me this model Lightning. It's a 1999 (there are some differences, like the wheels, taillights, etc.) but it's a very nice touch, that the dealer didn't have to do.

Diecast model of Lighning
Diecast model of Lighning

Obviously, the sheer acceleration that a vehicle with power numbers like the Lightning (underrated at 380HP stock makes it a blast to drive with the pedal down (pun intended). What has amazed me the most with the Lightning is the way it handles. It is a truck, and will always be a truck in the feel of the road, but THIS truck can hold its own in the twisties with a lot of performance-oriented cars.

SVT (Ford's Special Vehicle Team) produced 6,381 Lightnings in 2001, with mine (#2,989) born on April 19, 2001 in Oakville, Ontario (less than 20 miles from me). Here is the certificate that SVT sent to my, confirming the legitimacy of my Lightning as a original:

SVT Certificate for my Lightning

It wasn't too long, until I started to get into taking the truck to the drag strip. I always have had an absolute blast (literally and figuratively)! See my drag racing results, here.