It’s said to be “a Mustang GT with a cargo bed.”

The year was 1993 when Ford launched its first specialty pickup truck done up by the guys at its Special Vehicle Team, or SVT. Long before the SVT Raptor and its high-speed, off-road antics, there was the F-150 Lightening. The first-generation Lightning came on the F-150’s ninth generation, which spanned from 1992 till 1996. Though the Lighting would eventually get a second go-round between 1999 and 2004, it all started here.

We’re given this blast-from-the-past from MotorWeek and its host John Davis. The long-running automotive TV program shows just what the 1993 F-150 Lightning was like in its factory fresh condition. The truck came coated in a fiery red paint with teardrop-style alloy wheels. Only offered in the single cab, short bed form, the Lightning proved that trucks weren’t just for work.

Powering the truck was an up-tuned, 5.8-liter V-8 with 240 horsepower and 340 pound-feet of torque. That’s 40 more horses and pound-feet than stock. The iron-block mill came mated with a four-speed automatic transmission borrowed from the Super Duty and retuned for quicker shifting. Disc brakes up front with ABS and drum brakes out back pulled the Lightning to a stop, though MotorWeek complained about the lack of four-wheel discs with all-around ABS.

Though the V-8’s 240 horsepower is rather mild by today’s standards, the Lightning could hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds – plenty quick for the mid-1990s. Not only did the truck get a power boost, its suspension was sport tuned. Unique springs, shocks, and thicker anti-roll bars helped it corner like a Mustang. What’s more, all the performance upgrades didn’t hamper the Lightning’s ability to work. Payload and towing numbers were nearly identical to a standard F-150.

Best of all, the F-150 Lightning’s 0-to-60 mph time was competitive with the then-current Mustang GT, making Ford’s marketing claim of “It’s a Mustang GT with a cargo bed” something of a truth.

Now imagine what a modern-day F-150 Lightning would be like – a single cab, short bed truck with the high-output version of Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. Sure, it might be the same engine that’s powering the 2017 F-150 SVT Raptor, but with less weight, gearing for the street, and a performance suspension system, it’d be the fastest thing in its segment, hands down.

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
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