Frank H. Cicerale
December 1, 2007

Taking a walk through the produce section of your local supermarket yields a myriad of perishables. Stopping in the fruit section can be an exacerbating process of picking out the sweetest, most delectable nectar possible. Color stands out above all else, and inevitably, your eyes settle on those enticing oranges and tangerines. Hidden between the mandarin oranges, Florida oranges, and regular tangerines are small, little orange devils. A glance at the box identifies these little buggers as Clemetines. While a Clementine may be the smallest mandarin in existence, it's really a cross between a sweet orange and a Chinese mandarin-and packs one heck of a tasty wallop.

While Bob Dill's '01 Lightning won't be found on the shelves of your local grocery, it can be found on the streets and drag strips, where it shows off its sweet mix of looks and power in a glorified cloud of tire smoke and spent exhaust gases.

After previously owning a badass Terminator Cobra, Dill dumped the blown snake for a blown special Ford of another breed-his Grabber Orange Shelby GT500. With an eye more towards show with the new stud of the Mustang stable, Dill knew he needed an appropriate tow vehicle for the Shelby, as well as something he could crack the whip on at the track. Suffice it to say, his Lightning gets the job done.

Hailing from Templeton, Pennsylvania, Dill knew that the go-to place for cracking open the rind of his Clementine was as simple as a call to Johnny Lightning Performance in New Providence, Pennsylvania. While on the phone with JLP, Dill went through the JLP catalog front to back, having them ship a host of parts for the 5.4L Triton motor. Once the parts were freighted to his house, friend John Rullo, of Kittanning Auto Service, came by to assemble the modular powerplant. The foundation for this killer revolves around the JLP short-block assembly, which features a forged crank, rods, and pistons. Before the rotating assembly was slung into the block, however, Rullo bored the cylinders 0.020-inch over. Once the short-block was complete and buttoned up, Rullo slapped on a set of JLP Stage 3 heads, complete with a set of the company's Stage 3 camshafts. When done, the engine was dropped into the engine bay of the truck.

Since the Lightning came from the factory with an Eaton supercharger, Dill knew that a blower would top the mod motor. The thing is, Dill wanted to shove more air into the engine than the Eaton could handle efficiently. With that in mind, Dill had Rullo lay a Kenne Bell 2.6L blower on top of the poked Triton. With a 10-pound lower pulley, the blower forces 18 pounds of boosted air into the powerplant via an Accufab 90mm throttle body. The go-juice is supplied by a Walbro 255-lph fuel pump and accompanying 60-pound injectors. Denso plugs light the fire, and the exhaust expenditures are expelled via a set of Dynomax long-tube headers that funnel into a 3-inch exhaust system complete with a pair of Dynatech mufflers.

While the blower combination was good for some serious rear-wheel horsepower, Dill wanted more. To that end, he had Rullo install a Zex wet nitrous system loaded with a 50-shot of the sauce. Coupled with a custom tune, the truck spit out final power numbers totaling 643 rear-wheel-horsepower and 681 rear-wheel-torque while on the jug.

The stock transmission and rear end would turn to pulp if they were subjected to this type of power, so Dill made sure the running gear was fortified to handle all of the grunt. A new 4R100 transmission was procured from Brian's Truck Shop, as well as one of BTS' 2,600-rpm stall converters. An aluminum driveshaft went behind the tranny to link the trans up with the 9.75-inch rear, which now sports a Truetrac differential and a set of 4.10 cogs.

With all of this power on tap, a few changes were needed to get the truck to hook on the track as well as cruise and tow in relative comfort. The stock springs, shocks, and sway bars remained, but Air Ride airbags now raise and lower the hind end. A set of JLP chrome long bars can be found under the truck, as well as a chrome rearend girdle that gives off a bit more flash. The stock braking system still resides on all four corners, and the truck rolls on Status 20x9 rims shod in Kumho 305/50/20 sneakers all around. When it comes time to switch the street shoes for the track cleats, a set of Bogart wheels featuring Mickey Thompson skinnies are up front and Hoosier 30x10x15 gumballs in back. This hauler has a best e.t. of 11.06-seconds at 125 mph.

Since we already mentioned that Dill bought his Shelby with the intent of entering it in a car show or two, you can bet that all the stops were pulled when it came to the truck's looks, both inside and out. Dill bought the truck mostly complete, adding his own little touches. On the outside, the truck's flanks were shot with Bright Tangerine Orange paint. Combined with the shine from the aforementioned Status wheels and blackwall Kumho's, it sets the truck off like a bright orange sunset. Adding some flash to the hue are the billet upper and lower grilles, as well as the billet antenna and the hard bed cover, which is painted to match the rest of the truck. When it comes time to pop the hood, the Nostril hood opens more like a Vette, tilting forward, thanks to a custom tilt kit.

Inside the cabin, the SVT stitching on each seat is now the same orange as the exterior, and Auto Meter boost and fuel pressure gauges grace the A-pillar in their respective housings. An air/fuel gauge has a special home on the steering column, and a Pioneer head unit improves the sound coming out of the speakers. Finally, a custom center console separates the driver and passenger, and the console lid is covered with the same fabric as the seats.

When all is said and done, Bob Dill's '01 Lightning is set and ready to make a statement each time it goes down the track or hauls its blown brethren down the road. Either way, this Clementine fell from the horsepower tree and turns the rest of the competition into pulp.