Michael Galimi
June 1, 2008
Photos By: Greg Jarem, Team MM&FF
Model: Ashley Stout

"The benchmark is 13.33," said MM&FF Editorial Director Jim Campisano. It's the performance standard set by the Gen 2 SVT Lightning-as tested by this magazine several years ago when those trucks were new. Many enthusiasts were disappointed when Ford killed the SVT Lightning in 2004. Big Blue then teased the anxious Lightning community with a concept truck two years ago that looked awesome and seemed like a worthy replacement. Unfortunately, that truck remained a concept and never made it to the real world. But there's hope for those in the market for a badass F-150 that runs quick off the showroom floor.

We ran a best of 13.55 at 100.69 mph and did so with a 1.96 60-foot time. That makes this the quickest pickup truck available today. Hemi trucks and Chevy's SS series, beware!

Roush Performance seized the opportunity and released its "Nitemare," a sick F-150 with sharp looks and plenty of go. There's no mistaking it, this black beast was built to fill the needs of SVT Lightning owners. The fabled engineering company did what Ford refused to do-stuff a supercharged engine under the hood of an F-150 and go after the performance segment.

Cutting right to it, we ran 13.55 at 100.69 mph, and this truck also has a tough attitude to go along with its quick quarter-mile status. The Roush truck is quicker than a stock automatic-equipped Mustang. The same day we ran 13.55, a Mustang (with an auto) knocked off 13.70 runs. Under the right conditions, a 13.3 is possible in stock trim.

Ford might be shying away from a Lightning replacement because of the F-150's girth, but that didn't stop the Roush engineers from moving forward with this project. Sitting in the driver seat instantly gives you the perception of big, and it should, as our test vehicle tipped the scales at 5,270 pounds (about 500 pounds heavier than a Lightning with driver). As a comparison, the Gen 2 Lightnings regularly hit the dragstrip weighing 4,700 pounds in stock trim. The overweight situation is even more apparent when you toss the Nitemare into the corners. Handling is improved over stock, but these trucks just don't handle like the older and lighter F-150s.

A Roushcharger blower sits on top of a 5.4 Three-Valve engine. Output is regulated to 445 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque, but we think that with a few basic modifications, this truck will run in the mid-12s.

Making this truck roar is the same 445hp engine that powers the Roush Stage 3 F-150. It's based on the factory 5.4 engine that features three valves per cylinder and variable camshaft timing. Roush added its RoushCharger blower, and those familiar with the Roush Mustangs know the ins and outs of this blower. It's based on an Eaton positive-displacement unit, and Roush fits it to certain applications. One manifold fits the 5.4L engines, while another fits the 4.6. The blower is the same, and the extra power in the Nitemare is due to the larger engine. The blower huffs approximately 5 psi of boost into the engine. An air-to-water intercooler keeps the boosted air chilled before entering the Roush manifold and ultimately the cylinder heads. A cold-air induction system ensures there's plenty of air making its way into the throttle body.

Roush engineers took considerable care to reprogram the factory ECM. The calibrations ensure the engine remains reliable and trouble-free over time. They could have added more power, but it would push the engine past its limit during durability testing. These trucks carry a factory warranty and factory emission standards, making the ECM tune that much more critical. Transmission shifting parameters were enhanced and are much more aggressive than stock. A dual-exit exhaust system whisks away the spent gases. Torque output is a lofty 500 lb-ft to go along with the 445 hp. Top speed has been limited to just 105 mph, so you'll need to figure out something if you want to take this truck to the Autobahn.