test car
test car

2003 Lightning test vehicle


A few weeks after RPM OUTLET purchased this 03 Lightning the first thing we did was to get the s/c F-150 to “look the part”. We started with the Eibach lowering kit which gives the lightning the aggressive stance we were looking to create. This along with the Competition Engineering rear adjustable sway bar end link kit helped eliminate the body roll. Because we were counting on serious horsepower levels, we installed a new pair of Nitto’s drag radials on the factory polished lightning wheels. The awesome Competition Engineering 3-way adjustable shocks and the Slide-a-link traction bars were installed to keep the traction where it belongs; on the ground not up in smoke!


The next up-grade was obvious. We needed to replace that nasty and very restrictive factory air system. Check this out. We removed the skinny stock upper intake plenum, and replaced it with C&L’s new upper intake plenum. On a stock lightning, this can add as much as 14hp & 24 ft lbs torque. Yes! You guessed it! Next was ACCUFAB’S huge 1696 cfm throttle body, a polished inlet pipe from AEM w/98mm maf tube. To compliment the rest of air system, we decided that this vehicle deserves what we feel is the cold air system on the market; the MOTOBLUE cold air kit w/the S&B FILTER!

Now that the lightning is getting plenty of air, it’s time for the exhaust up-grade. We installed a set of gorgeous stainless steel long-tube headers and a catted mid-pipe from Dynatech. We had tried numerous cat-backs before deciding on the Dynatech cat-back. With the all stainless steel construction, its t-304 stainless polished 3 ½" tips and high scavenging x-pipe, these headers gave us the tone and the looks we were after.

It was now time for the engine bolt-ons. Before we made any pulley swaps, we installed an electric water pump from Meziere and a dual fan kit from Flex-a-Lite. We didn’t forget about the wimpy stock heat exchanger. Check out this Afco heat exchanger! It has all aluminum construction, 16 fins per inch, and double the cooling capability. This thing awesome! Not to mention that it requires no modification to install. We achieved a firm 34 rwhp, just from combining these three parts.

2003 Lightning test vehicle

Next it was time to up the boost level. First, the boost by-pass was completed on the Lightning from which we gained two free pounds of boost without getting out the tool box. MOTOBLUE's 6 psi quick change crank pulley set was installed next. A set of NGK spark plugs and a run threw the Diablo Predator flash tuner and we are off to the track! Out of the box, our Lightning runs a solid ET of 12.51 and 111 mph. The second and third passes were not too shabby either. They ran 12.53 & 12.55 ET’s and 110 & 111 mph respectively.

Finally we decided that we were going to press our luck and we installed a 2.80" s/c pulley just to see what the factory internals could handle. Another run threw with the Diablo Predator and we are heading back to the track. Well, a couple of floggs from some stop lights and we noticed that the Lighting was running quite rough. We gave it a little throttle only to hear the rod making a loud noise before it finally came apart. WHOOPS!

2003 Lightning test vehicle

We pushed our luck a little too far, but now we know what the stock bottom end can handle. We jumped on the disassembly of our injured 03 Lightning. It was time to stop messing around. RPM OUTLET’S short-block assembly is the BADDEST! With JE blower pistons, Manley h-beam connecting rods and ARP studs threw out the rest of the engine, we finally have a “bullet proof” foundation. Over-size intake and exhaust valves from Mod Max and a killer set of stage III Crower Cams will deliver the big horsepower we have been looking for. Since we had the engine out and the rest of the Lighting apart, we installed one of Precision Industries torque converters with a 2800 rpm stall speed. This will help us deliver the horsepower to the wheels.

2003 Lightning test vehicleWith bigger cams, this new monster is going to need a lot more fuel. We added 60lbs. injectors from Seimens and MOTOBLUE supplied us with their new HP SERIES fuel rail kit. This kit is huge! The 5/8" fuel rails, MOTOBLUE's own fuel pressure regulator, and the fuel line kit made the install a breeze.

By the time we got everything just about buttoned up, MOTOBLUE came threw again with their New Zero Slip Cog Belt System. We removed the previous pulley set-up we were using and install the cog set-up. This system includes upper and lower pulleys, a specially designed tensioner pulley, and idler pulley. Not only will this kit create boost, but it will stay at a constant level threw out the entire rpm range without ANY Belt slipage . We can’t wait for the DYNO results on this LIGHTNING!!

Our list of specifications as of March 2006 follows:

Computer Tuner
  • Diablosport Predator
  • Diablosport MAF.ia
  • 98mm inlet pipe/meter housing

  • Flex-A-Lite Electric Fan Kit
  • Vortech Heat Exchanger Tank
  • Canton Expansion Tanks
  • AFCO PRO Series Heat Exchanger

    Drive Train
  • Comp Eng. Slid-link Traction Bars
  • Kenny Brown X-Brace
  • Precision multi-disc 2800rpm lock up converter

    Engine Specs
  • Block - Stock Standard Bore and Stroke Ford 5.4L SOHC
  • Crank - FMS Stock Steel
  • JE 8.20 to 1 Blower pistons
  • Bolts - ARP Cranks Shaft and Head
  • Cams - CROWER stage III camshaft, springs/titanium retainers
  • Heads - Patriot Romeo Stage II Ported
  • Rods - CROWER H-beam

  • Dynatech Stainless Long Tube Headers
  • Dynatech 2 Cat Mid-Pipe
  • BORLA Cat-Back
  • Fuel
  • 2 Focus fuel pumps
  • Siemens 60 lbs injectors
  • MOTOBLUE Fuel Rail Kit

  • AEM Wide-Band 02
  • Auto-meter Boost/Fuel Pressure
  • Dual A-Pillar Pod

  • Intake - WHIPPLE
  • Custom MOTOBLUE Cold Air Kit with S&B Cone
  • WHIPPLE SuperCharger

  • NGK Plugs v-power
  • Ignition Solutions Plazma Booster

  • WHIPPLE 3.50 Compressor Pulley
  • MOTOBLUE 8.50 Crank Pulley Kit

  • Eibach Lowering Springs PRO KIT
  • Comp Eng. Slid-link Traction Bars
  • Comp Eng. Drive-shaft Safety Loop
  • Comp Eng. Sway-bar End links