Scott Welch
July 14, 2014

New Mexico's Jim Guthrie has competed in three Indy 500s in his racing career and most recently in the ever-popular Formula Drift competition against the likes of Justin Pawlak and Vaughn Gittin Jr.

He owns one of the coolest body shops we've ever seen—Car Crafters in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It has been the primary backer for Jim's motorsports career, which includes multiple Indy car finishes in front of some of the best in the world, a victory at Phoenix International Speedway in 1997, and IRL Rookie of the Year honors the same year.

Jim is now drifting in a purpose-built '11 Mustang GT and he likes his street power, too. He just flat-out loves driving fast cars, not to mention the associated on-track competition. Evidence is all around him, from the previously mentioned 640-rwhp Mustang GT drifter, to a killer performance-enhanced Ford GT that puts 843 hp to the ground, to his custom SVT Lightning monster shown here. Performance is without a doubt, in his blood.

Jim has loved the Ford Lightning since it first came out in 1993 and has owned three along the way. He has had a blast overdriving the blower on his '99, modifying the intake and computer, adding exhaust enhancements, and of course, many personal touches to the exterior and interior.

His seemingly unquenchable fondness for fast trucks has lead him to build this ultra-trick Lightning.

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Jim decided that true Ford Lightning bliss would be a super- or hyper-Lightning. The first task was to find a truck. A red '99 Lightning was eventually found in Chama, New Mexico. The truck was clean, straight, and rust free, but not so nice that he would feel bad about tearing it down and transforming it into his super truck.

Jim and his talented crew at Car Crafters took the SVT Lightning completely apart to start the makeover. Let the games begin.

The design objective was to create a truck that could perform at the dragstrip and the road course, all while blowing minds with stunning looks like a killer street rod—the old "show-n-go" attitude if you will, emphasis on the go.

It sports a flawless custom paint job by Car Crafters in Ferrari Corsa Rosso Red and Ford GT Silver. Jim laid out and shot the lightning bolt graphics himself. The vents on the fenders are one-off pieces that look so good, we're certain to see this done more often.

When you look inside the truck, you know immediately that this machine is about power and style. From the Corbeau racing seats and four point harnesses, to the trick gauges, it all begins to become clear. With all this high-performance equipment and gauges inside, there must be a tiger under the hood.

A twist of the key ignites the 620-plus rwhp from the all-aluminum supercharged V-8 built by Johnny Lightning Performance. JLP started with a strong bottom-end and worked up from there. The motor is loaded with heavy-duty goodies that not only make it strong, but bountifully powerful. The beast is appropriately topped with a polished Kenne Bell intercooled supercharger.

Our first encounter with the Lightning was on a brisk Albuquerque morning at the local speedway near West Mesa. We pulled onto the track and positioned the rig for stills on the backstretch of the half-mile oval. After several still shots, we asked Jim how he felt about doing a smoky burnout. He obliged in drifter fashion and put on a show that proved this truck is a performer.

Then the time came for us to take this sweet hot rod pickup for a drive. We jumped in, buckled up, and soft-peddled the truck around the course to get acquainted for a couple laps.

It's a very comfortable driver with a slightly stiffer feel than a stock Lightning of the same vintage. Out on the road course, we began to put the spurs to her a bit. The downshifts are positive and smooth. Mashing the throttle on the front straight kicked it down a gear, woke up the 600-plus ponies, and had us deciphering the corner in the blink of an eye.

It's easy to see that inexperience or careless behavior with the throttle could bring trouble quickly. One gentle push on the brake pedal quickly reminds you of the giant Wilwood setup. As we eased into Turn 1, we could feel the awesome airbag suspension on this truck. Lastly, it was time to see what the big boy would do on the highway. We eased out onto a clear fast lane and dropped the hammer. The brute downshifted, spun the tires at 70 mph!

No doubt Jim Guthrie has prepared a fine SVT Lighting packed with performance and personalization. Plus it's ready for any show or go situation.