Michael Galimi
June 16, 2006

Step By Step

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Mmfs_060064_01_z 2002_ford_f150_harley_davidson_truck Front_view
Johnny Lightning Performance uses this Harley-Davidson F-150 as a rolling testbed for the JLP catalog. When they aren't wearing out the chassis dyno or running 10s at the track, Sue Wiker, wife of Johnny Wiker (otherwise known as Johnny Lightning), is running to the grocery store and driving around town.
Mmfs_060064_02_z 2002_ford_f150_harley_davidson_truck Fender_badgeMmfs_060064_03_z 2002_ford_f150_harley_davidson_truck Jlp_sheet_metal_intakeMmfs_060064_04_z 2002_ford_f150_harley_davidson_truck Rear_viewMmfs_060064_05_z 2002_ford_f150_harley_davidson_truck Side_viewMmfs_060064_07_z 2002_ford_f150_harley_davidson_truck Side_view
Getting a long-wheelbase vehicle to transfer weight in a drag racing scenario is difficult. It's even harder when you're trying to do it with a pickup truck. JLP suspension components were used throughout to help the truck plant the 30x10.5-inch Hoosier radial slicks.

In 2000, Ford Motor Company announced a partnership with one of America's most recognizable brands-Harley-Davidson. At first, this partnership was just about fancy badges on Ford's number one selling vehicle. Ford spruced up the F-150 on the inside and added some sweet wheels. In 2001, a lower suspension setup and 20-inch wheels added more flair and greater interest. There was a major attraction to the truck, but sales were flat. The potential buyer was looking for greater performance. Once the public spoke out, Ford and Harley-Davidson listened.

The goals for the F-150 project changed, and the first priority became adding more excitement. The '02 model was to be way different for buyers. For the first time, mainstream Ford engineering teams had access to the SVT parts bin, and the one item they wanted was the highly touted 5.4L supercharged engine. It ensured this F-150 would have the guts to drag a trailer with a few bikes to Daytona Bike Week. Not only would it haul ass down the highway with ease, but the passengers would also be resting comfortably in a cushy cabin.

There are those who viewed the muscular Harley-Davidson F-150 as a more practical version of the SVT Lightning. Despite having a detuned computer system, which lowered the horsepower rating, and a suspension that wasn't as high-performance oriented as its SVT cousin, the Harley-Davidson F-150 fit the needs of high-performance truck enthusiasts. The truck came in two sizes; crew cab and super crew. That meant hauling more than two passengers was guaranteed, making it more appealing to a different demographic of buyers.

Sue Wiker (aka Mrs. Lightning) described how she got the Harley-Davidson F-150. "Johnny (Johnny Lightning) went to trade in my '99 V-6 (Mustang) for an '03 Cobra. We ended up with an '02 Harley. Johnny said the '03 Cobra would be too much to handle. He only said that because he would buy it for himself a few weeks later!" With the level of performance from Sue's truck, we think she would have been just fine behind the wheel of a Cobra. But, then again, having a 10-second truck isn't so bad, either! Another buying bonus for Johnny was he could use this truck to help develop more parts for their business, Johnny Lightning Performance. It was a great way for him to get hands-on with a Harley-Davidson F-150 and offer a line of parts for this premier performance vehicle. Having a more practical daily driver than a two-seater Lightning or a small Mustang also helped.

First on the list of mods was horsepower, with the goal of getting it back to the Lightning levels. A DiabloSport custom tune-up was in order as well. Johnny fired up the DynoJet chassis dyno one night and fixed the sub-standard computer tune-up. Then, he kept thrashing through the night adding supercharger pulleys, an air-inlet system, and an exhaust system (among other things). By dawn, his wife had a Harley truck that could hang with most Lightnings on the road.

For Sue, diamonds are a lot like drag racing records-they are both forever. With the first set of modifications, her truck was the first Harley-Davidson F-150 to run in the 11s. That accomplishment came rather easy, which then led to the husband and wife team taking a shot at the 10-second barrier a few months later.