Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
1993 Ford Lightning - Force Of Nature
Bad Weather Is On the Horizon When This Turbo Lightning Hits the Street
For most folks, going fast in a Ford means sliding behind the wheel of a Mustang.
Others, such as Ryan Wall from Dallas, Georgia, prefer something with a bit more heft. Ryan's choice is a '93 Ford Lightning, but it certainly isn't your run-of-the-mill pickup. His rig features a huge turbocharger, lots of engine mods, and a racing suspension ready for serious abuse.
Ryan is the business development manager at Injected Engineering, a performance shop located in Kennesaw, Georgia, and he's spent hours transforming his Lightning into a killer street truck. He bought it completely stock at age 17. Soon after, he started the long list of modifications by bolting on a set of Edelbrock cylinder heads, and installing an "F" cam and a NOS Big Shot 250hp plate kit.
After growing bored with this combination, Ryan decided on a turbo build and created the combination you see here. Though it certainly has race-inspired details, the Lightning is perfectly happy on the street—although fuel mileage suffers greatly.
When Ryan began the build, he sent the truck to Jimmy Blackmon at Straightline Chassis for a number of rear suspension upgrades. Straightline Chassis ditched the leaf springs and installed Competition Engineering ladder bars, along with a pair of Strange coilovers. The new suspension attaches to an 8.8 rearend housing, which has been narrowed 4 inches and fit with a spool, a 4.10 gear set, and a pair of 35-spline Moser axles.
Traction comes by way of M&H Racemaster drag radials, 390/40R17 and wrapped around the stock Lightning wheels, which have been widened to 12 inches by Weldcraft Wheels. The extra material was added to the backside of the wheels, so the polished rollers have the factory look to match the stock 17x8-inch front wheels.
To get the stance he wanted it, Ryan installed Bell Tech lowering springs and shock absorbers, as well as DJM drop I-beams. In an effort to save weight, Ryan tossed all of the original steering equipment and installed a manual Mustang rack-and-pinion setup, but retained the stock brakes on all four corners.
Horsepower comes from an original '93-model 351 Windsor, but the block is the only remaining part of the equation. Ryan sent the engine to Steve Petty at Pro Line Racing to be assembled. A final bore size of 4.030 inches and the 3.75-inch stroke from the forged Eagle crankshaft results in a displacement of 382 ci.
Other bottom-end goodies include forged H-beam connecting rods, forged dish-top pistons, and a Melling oil pump. The cylinder heads are out-of-the-box Brodix Track 1 aluminum castings, which feature 2.08- and 1.60-inch valves; and a set of Comp Cams Pro Magnum 1.6:1 roller rocker arms, put into motion by a custom-grind solid roller camshaft from Cam Motion.
The heart of the small-block rides just behind the grille. It's a Precision 91mm turbocharger, with custom tubing routed to the Vortech Igloo Mondo Cooler and a huge 5-inch downpipe. Bobby Johnson fabricated the custom headers that lead to the massive turbo. To keep up with 25 pounds of boost, Ryan installed a Weldon 2025 fuel pump, an Aeromotive pressure regulator, and 160-lb/hr injectors. Ignition is handled by an MSD distributor, an MSD Digital 7 ignition box, and an MSD coil, while Taylor 10.4mm plug wires send fire to the Autolite plugs.
When Pro Line wrapped up the engine build, Ryan handed the keys to his good friend and boss Aric Carrion, who tuned the FAST XFI system to help produce 897 hp and 663 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels on VP C-16 racing fuel. Power application is handled by a Powerglide built by Steve Bradshaw at Bradshaw Performance Transmissions. The two-speed features a JW case and bell housing, Kolene steels, and Red Alto race frictions. A Precision Industries torque converter features a stall speed of 3,500 rpm.
As for aesthetics, Ryan took great care to keep his Lightning in pristine condition but had Performance Automotive freshen up the paint job with Dupont materials. A Cervini's fiberglass hood and custom rear roll pan are the only exterior body modifications, but the bed has a few new features, including larger wheeltubs (installed by Bobby Johnson), a recessed aluminum fuel cell, and a recessed Optima Red-Top battery. A Reichard Racing water tank is also recessed into the bed floor, holding fluid for the intercooler.
Inside is a 10-point rollcage installed by Straightline Chassis and a pair of Corbeau Forza racing seats wrapped in the factory cloth material. The seat backs feature custom "Lightning" embroidery, while the custom console is also wrapped in two-tone gray material. Marietta Auto Trim performed the flawless stitch work. Impact Racing harnesses keep Ryan pinned to the seat as he grips the Grant steering wheel and Cheeta SCS shifter. With plans of street driving, Ryan didn't do away with the stereo system, upgrading to Kenwood and Rockford Fosgate equipment.
An interesting fact to Ryan's Lightning buildup is that he did the majority of the work from 2002 to 2004. From there, the truck was put on the backburner, but it's currently fresh on his mind and ready for some action at the track. Ryan only had a few opportunities to test his truck before pushing it to the side, and his best eight-mile e.t. was 6.50 at 115 mph. Now that the truck has his attention once again, you can bet those personal bests will be shattered.
Either way, the truck is an awesome example of big-time horsepower and reasonable driveability. Ryan plans to upgrade the turbocharger and make a little more power, but his main intention is to get it back on the road and see how much bad weather he can stir up.