Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
2003 Ford Lightning - Shifty Business
Ed Weschler's '03 Lightning Shows That Being Different Is Good.
The most difficult part of the swap was tuning the ECM for the manual transmission. "By far, tuning the computer was the hardest part of it all," Bob comments. "The Lightning has a 3D Matrix computer system, which made it difficult for us to get things to work at first. We had to tell the computer a lot of lies to get it to work. We had to loop in something like four or five sensors in a different way, along with eliminating some entirely to finally get things moving. For instance, we had to set the rear gear ratio at 1.51:1 to get the vehicle speed sensor to work correctly."
In addition to having a do-it-yourself gearbox, he also wanted it to handle well. After all, the guy does own a few Ferraris. To satisfy Ed's wishes, Bob and the boys picked up the Ground Force catalog and ordered a bevy of suspension components. The front springs were swapped out for Ground Force items, along with a pair of the company's nitrogen struts and bumpstops. The same style shocks are found under the bed, along with Ground Force's rear bumpstops and shackle kit. The suspension components served to lower the truck, as well as enhance its handling characteristics. "We actually got one of the first packages for these trucks from Ground Force," Bennett admits. "The kit softened up the truck, making it ride more like a larger touring car than a truck." Rounding out the truck's modifications are the wheel and tire combo, which not only add to the handling improvement of the truck, but throws in a bit of a cool factor as well. A set of Boyd Coddington II 20-inch rims can be found on all four corners. The five-spoke shoes are dressed in BFGoodrich G-Force TAs sized 295/45R20.
While Bob says Ed has a blast driving around in his truck, it was he who gave us the best impression of what it's like to drive a six-speed supercharged Lightning truck. "The truck is a blast," he says. "Without the mufflers on it, it sounds like a Cup car. After we got done putting the finishing touches on it, there were three Lightning owners who saw the truck, and there were mixed emotions about it. One guy thought it was cool, another couldn't have cared less, and the last guy didn't like it at all. I gave all three of them rides, and came back with a two out of three approval rating. The guy who didn't like it was pretty mad when I got done because I slid him around pretty good in it. Overall though, it's a great truck. The first three gears are especially fun."
Thanks to Bob Bennett, Ed's truck is certainly different. It takes some shifty business to come up with something this cool. After all, it is a six-speed Lightning.