Muscle Truck: 1994 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning

These photos are among the most disappointing that I have ever seen in a listing that has a main goal of selling a vehicle. That doesn’t mean that the vehicle depicted by those photos is disappointing, quite the opposite. This ancestral being is a 1994 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning. I know, pretty cool! It’s listed on in Elmwood, Illinois with an asking price of $3,000. Is that a repair or a flare over the RR wheel?

This is the generation of Ford Lightning that I personally would want. This isn’t the fastest Ford Lightning or probably even the nicest or the best handling, but the 1993 through 1995 Lightning is the one that started it all for Ford. The Special Vehicle Team (SVT) at Ford had what seems like it would have been a fun job, to come up with high-performance vehicles based on current Ford models. As FoMoCo said about the Lightning, “For all intents, the F-150 Lightning is a Mustang GT with a cargo bed.” Cool.

I know, the two side photos are both cut off, not to mention being hidden by prairie grass of some sort. The dull cab and shiny box combo is unusual, I’m not sure what’s going on there? And you can see some rust in the typical cab corner areas. At least it looks complete, the wheels would be one thing that I assume go missing on these trucks, especially ones that are sitting in a field somewhere in Illinois. There were only 1,382 black Lightnings made in 1994, along with 1,460 white versions and the rarest of the bunch are the red trucks, of which only 1,165 were made. From the seller’s description: “Rustic 1994 ford pickup with 78,000 original miles.” NADA lists the average retail value of $5,200 and a high retail of $7,675. There isn’t much room for restoration here, unfortunately. A nice paint job will bring it dangerously close to that high number without doing any bodywork first.

This is the only interior photo and it was in a vertical format, hence the odd layout here. It’s hard to tell too much other than it appears to be somewhat of a storage unit inside. The driver’s seat looks like it’s in great condition and I would assume that the passenger seat is just as nice. With 78,000 miles it shouldn’t be worn out yet. These ’93-’95 trucks all had four-speed automatic transmissions from the factory. The seller says that it has a “New AC unit, and new CD player.” Unfortunately, there are no engine photos showing THE MAIN SELLING POINT OF THESE TRUCKS! I’m not bitter, maybe they couldn’t get the hood open. I’m sure the seller would send you a photo if you were genuinely interested in this truck. The engine should be a high-output 351 cubic-inch V8 with 240 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque. That doesn’t sound like a lot of power today but in the early-mid-90s it was pretty nice and it was good for a 0-60 time of 7.2 seconds. Are there any current or former owners of a Ford Lightning out there? Can this truck be saved without breaking the bank?

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  1. Richard

    Looks to be missing the signature fog/ driving lights. First truck to have bucket seats 1993. First to have synthetic gear oil in def. special light wt. driveshaft, 4 cats- two per pipe. All stainless true dual exhaust with tubular headers from factory. 351 Windsor with iron GT- 40 heads.

    • RiK

      Bucket seats were an option on Ford F100 and F150 Ranger Sport Trucks from 1965 to 1979. I have a 1979 Ranger Sport with factory bucket seats. Some Ford truck owners would take the bucket seats from a Full Size late 70’s Bronco and install in a full size pickup. Another option on Truck seats was to install one from a crewcab and you would have a split upper back which enabled one to get to your tool box without sending the dog, childor wife into the windshield!

      • carsofchaos

        Hi Rik
        I constantly see the mention of bucket seats as an option starting in 1967 on f100s, though people always counter and say that there is no record of buckets ever being installed in an f100 before 1970. I routinely buy and sell f100s and have never seen bucket seats installed in an f100 before 1970, have you?

    • KKW

      So much misconception, the Lighting was NOT the first with bucket seats. Ford came out with the Ranger package in 1965, which included Mustang bucket seats, full carpeting, including a carpeted covering over the in cab fuel tank. An additional option included a Falcon Sprint style center consul. Available on F100s and F250s as well.

  2. whmracer99

    Looks like an aftermarket flare mounted on the right rear wheel well — probably covering rust. As you said, cab and bed paint is obviously different and with no VIN supplied you’d have to wonder on this truck’s history. IF the miles are correct it might still smell like a pretty good deal but lots of questions. Definitely one where you’d be best served by seeing it in person first.

  3. jdjonesdr

    Probably woke up one morning and decided to sell it and send his 6 yr. old kid to take pictures.

  4. JamestownMike

    I agree with Scotty, this is the generation of the Ford Lightning I would want too. That passenger wheel well concerns me……..why would there only be ONE wheel flare?? Looks more like a wheel lip repair. Being an IL truck, wonder how rusty the undercarriage is? I already see lower fender and cab corner rust bubbling. I haven’t seen one of these in a LONG time! Price seems pretty cheap for a 78k mile example.

    • darrun

      I believe that Flare is a cut down patch panel. Looks to be just cut down a pop riveted in place.

  5. Paul OHara

    I would take the center caps for the wheels fo 95 White Lightning

  6. Alex

    I got an question about barn finds.

  7. MikeSuperSport

    I had a black ‘93 from new sold it in ‘11. Great and reliable truck. The 94-95 models had a fold up center console allowing a third passenger, whereas the ‘93’s just had a huge Storage console between the seats. One unique item on these is they are two wheel drive trucks built on four wheel drive snow plow chassis for better stiffness/rigidity.

    • Steve

      Never knew that about the frame.


    My 94 v8 4spd Dakota smoked the 1st gen lightings

    • Pat

      Not for long…. 😎

  9. Pat A

    I have a ’93. One issue with these was the paint job There seemed to be a secret recall on it, but you had to know to ask. Another weak point seemed to be the E40D trans. There’s a lot of negative press about it, but mine’s held up well. I’ve done some towing, but not a lot. One thing it does is that after I’ve driven it for a while it will shift gears hard. Maybe a second trans cooler needed? Also, I’ve had to replace waterpumps 2x. They seemed to be good for about 75K miles then pffft. Oh, and who ever decided to cram the fuel filter inside the frame rail next to the fuel tank should be dope slapped. And the PCV valve is stuck between the upper intake and the firewall so it’s pretty tough to replace.

    I changed out the exhaust for a full Bassani setup. A nice bump in power. 24-25 horsepower when dynoe’d by Super Ford magazine back then. I changed out the speed density for a mass airflow setup, and that felt like close to double the HP of the aftermarket exhaust, judging by the seat-of-my-pants-ometer. It doesn’t have the HP #’s of a lot of new vehicles, but it makes big torque, and with the 4.10 axle it surprises a lot of newer vehicles, at least across an intersection. Oh, and who ever decided to cram the fuel filter inside the frame rail next to the fuel tank should be dope slapped.
    I don’t think these sold very quickly. Mine sat on the lot for about a year, with an asking price of 24K, eventually marked down to about 17.5K.

  10. marlon smith

    I had a red one they had a lot unique features aluminum driveshaft 4;10 gears you could set the cruise control at 100 mph and eat up the hiway

    • Pat A

      Changing to the mass air removed the speed limiter. Also, the auto trans downshifts like someone is rowing gears through a manual trans. I was hoping that the switch to the mass air setup would improve fuel mileage, but no such luck. 13-14 mpg when newer, 11 mpg nowadays.

  11. BarnfindyCollins

    I liked these when they came out also, nice and understated. Sorta like a speak softly and carry a big stick kinda truck. It wasn’t over styled and still looks good.

  12. Pat A

    Back in the ’90’s there was a team that was racing one in the Baja 1000. Stock power train, lifted suspension and big tires. They would beat everything for 400 miles, then the E40D tranny would go blooey. (The one in the Lightnings was designated the E40D HD, don’t know if it really meant anything) Ford worked with them to develop/improve the E40D, saying that a few hundred miles of offroad racing was the equivalent of 100k miles of normal service.

  13. Fordguy1972

    I’d bet the fender flare is a red-neck attempt to hide rust. I own a ’96 F150 and had both wheel arches repaired for rust because water and road debris collects between the bed body and fender well. Up here in the Northeast, whenever you see an F150 from the early-to-mid ’90s, they all show rust there. Pretty expensive repair. I almost bought a 1st gen Lightning but the mpg were a turn-off for every day driving. The price seems fair but I would want to inspect this one, the pictures just don’t show enough to take a chance on it.

  14. Pat

    I sold 17 Lighting’s. The trick was knowing your product. Most people thought it was a decal and wheel package.

  15. Rob S.

    I bought a white ’94 with 4K miles on it and drove another 140K before selling it to buy a 4K mile 01 in 2015. Loved that 1st Gen lightning! Towed car trailers with it, hauled lumber with it and raced it in open track events. Handled like a mustang GT! What great trucks!

  16. Troy s

    Built by Ford to compete with the SS 454, which it did, also built in limited numbers. Great truck that it was in a straight line it also handled very good, better than the new cobra mustang if I remember it right. Tried to buy a new one in ’95 but the steep price tag kept me out of it,payments would have been too much. Ahhh!!! I also remember a lot of these being modified one way or another as the 5.0 Mustang mania spread to this truck right quickly, some were downright quarter mile terrors. The newer lightnings never interested me as much as these, if at all, despite being much stronger runners.
    That engine should have been in the Mustang as far back as ’89 or ’90 to be an absolute animal, finally proven by a handful of Cobra R’s that were track oriented 13 second screamers, but hardly available to the general public.

  17. Jim B

    I know this post has been dead for quite some time, but I just stumbled across it. I actually bought the truck in this discussion. Picked it up for quite a bit less than asking price. Body and undercarriage are rough (and that’s being nice). Everything is original and untouched. Interior cleaned up to about an 8 out of 10. Drivetrain is sound and completely original. Replaced the exhaust (that was completely rusted away) with nice Bassani setup. I just picked up a rust free donor truck to get the body back to good. Not sure how i’m gonna approach the frame yet…

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