Steeda Delivers A Supercharged F-150 Classic Lightning Fans Crave

Steeda Delivers A Supercharged F-150 Classic Lightning Fans Crave

A flash cleaves through the air searing its path to five times the temperature of the surface of the sun. As the bolt passes, the air cools and a sound wave echoes across the sky. In 5 seconds that sound covers a mile. If that sound hits your ears in less than 30 seconds after you see the flash, it is close enough to put you in danger.

You won’t have that long to wait before this truck puts a few bed lengths between itself and an unsuspecting rival. This is no regular, short-bed F-150. It is the latest creation from Steeda Performance Vehicles.

Steeda

Rounding the corner in Steeda’s Valdosta, Georgia warehouse, your scribe first laid eyes on the Steeda Thunder. Immediately the look of the overall package struck a chord, and that is thanks in part to Steeda removing all the chrome in favor of paint matching and adding nice touches like aftermarket headlamps, a bed cover, and a rear wing. However, the stance, delivered by the Steeda and IHC Performance Suspension System, which provides a 3-inch drop in front, really drives home its sleek looks, which are backed up by the power lurking underneath. (Photo Credit: Author, static, and Chris Cervenka/Steeda, action)

“We always thought that the current generation of the F-150 was particularly well suited for performance enhancements — especially with the 5.0-liter V8 and the 10-speed automatic transmission,” Bob Adams, President of Steeda Performance Vehicles, explains. “Knowing our expertise in the Mustang arena, our customer base has also been asking us for our modern-day version of the supercharged Ford F-150 Lightning for quite some time. With those two motivational factors in mind, we embarked on the plan to build the very best street performance truck we could — leaving nothing on the table for the diehard performance enthusiast.”

We wanted the styling to be aggressive and modern, yet also retain some styling cues that pay homage to the last generation of supercharged Lightning. –Bob Adams, President of Steeda Performance Vehicles

Unlike the latest EV Lightning-named pickup, which is quick and stealthy, the Steeda Thunder features the signature hallmarks of the SVT heritage, including a V8 and rumbling exhaust note, along with a few styling cues that harken back to the Lightning legacy.

“While we are most certainly known for our performance Mustangs and other cars, we have been building F-150-based trucks for clients for many years,” Adams says. “The most common truck that we modify is the Ford F-150 Raptor — we take that to an entirely higher level of performance and appearance with our EcoBoost powertrain modifications, off-road lighting, suspension, wheels and tires, and robust bumper applications.”

Under the hood, Steeda imbues the Thunder with electrifying horsepower courtesy of a Whipple Gen5x twin-screw supercharger that generates more than 775 horsepower and 685 lb-ft of torque under the sway of a CARB-certified calibration.

With a strong contingent of enthusiasts still wishing for a gas-powered sport truck from the Blue Oval, it seemed only natural for Steeda to combine its experience modding Mustangs and Ford trucks to create a modern F-150 that delivers that thunderclap of performance to follow the silent strike of Ford’s latest Lightning.

“This is an all-new creation,” Adams says. “All of the performance parts and upgrades we specifically designed, engineered, and manufactured for the current generation of the F-150 with the goal of maximum performance.”

Upon hearing of a Steeda Thunder under construction at the company’s facilities, your author took a road trip to give it a quick spin on the street and snap some photos for your enjoyment. After sitting in the driver’s seat, I slid the key in (yup, no push-button start since its platform is a base, two-door, short-bed truck) into the ignition. It was old-school as I cranked it up and the Thunder burbled to life and the Whipple-supercharged Coyote growled through the side-exit exhaust.

Out back the Steeda/IHC Performance Suspension System lowers the truck by 5 inches. The double-adjustable QA1 rear shocks are performance-matched to the front coilovers for a balanced system that plants the Whipple power with ease, especially if you remember to engage the factory locking differential. (Photo Credit: Chris Cervenka/Steeda, suspension detail)

At the first hint of a clear path, I drop the hammer. It takes a moment for the big Whipple to spool up, but the Steeda/IHG rear suspension does its job planting the power with a hint of squealing complaint from the rear Nittos. As the boost builds and the Coyote howls, the truck rockets forward and I soon have to make the sad, but wise decision to reel things in before the speed gets out of hand.

In regular driving, the truck delivers a comfortable ride that is more communicative of the road than stock, but just by a slight margin. Its handling and traction responsiveness is elevated. It’s a familiar balance of ride and performance that has long been a hallmark of Steeda machines.

“We knew we needed to deliver a suspension system that is without equal and one that can put the power down perfectly,” Adams explains. “By working with IHC Suspension, we were able to have a setup that far exceeded our expectations and is perfect for this truck.”

Several tasteful upgrades include, Steeda badging, a bed cover, a rear wing, and a leather interior (which had yet to be installed on this truck at the time of our photoshoot) set the F-150 Thunder apart from its factory cousins.

That suspension is dampened by QA1 shocks offering adjustability should you need to tune in the ride quality or sharpen the handling for a competitive environment. In total it works to make the most of the power created by a Coyote 5.0-liter topped by the proven Whipple Supercharger Gen 5x Stage 2 Supercharger System. This easily pushes the Coyote output beyond 775 ponies under the control of an emissions-friendly, CARB-certified calibration.

“Whipple provides the biggest power gains with the least parasitic loss of any supercharger on the market today,” Adams says. “Additionally, their calibration is perfect for maximum power and reliability. When you mate that with the highest quality in the industry — Whipple is the only logical choice.”

While the charged-up performance is expected on a truck of this caliber, it might be the appearance of the truck that steals the show. It has the performance to back up its aggressive looks, but with the ride height sitting just right over Velgen wheels that recall the factory units on the second-generation Lightning, the Thunder strikes the center of the target for a tasteful yet sharpened visage.

Steeda

The upgrade that drives home that classic Lightning energy is the addition of Velgen DDR VFT6 forged aluminum wheels with a gloss-black powdercoat finish. Measuring 22×10-inch up front and in back, their design recalls the factory rims on the second-get SVT Lightning. Steeda wraps these attractive wheels in Nitto NT420 high-performance tires measuring 305/40R22 at all four corners.

“We wanted the styling to be aggressive, modern, yet also retain some styling cues that pay homage to the last generation of supercharged Lightning,” Adams said. “The result is what you see — we crafted specific badging for the truck series, added a special, color-matched paint package, subtle aerodynamic enhancements, and then a wheel and tire package that has an aggressive performance stance.”

As your scribe made his way back to Steeda’s campus, it was hard not to smile while driving a truck that is both a bewitching brawler and a seductive sleeper. For one last time, I stood on the loud pedal and felt the boost build, and it transported me back to the first time I drove the second-generation Lightning. The Steeda Thunder is faster and arguably more refined, but still elicits those same feelings that a truck has no right to perform like this — yet it does.

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If you’ve been yearning for a boosted sport truck from the Blue Oval, the Steeda Thunder is sure to electrify your senses. While the two-door, short-bed looks the part, it is also available in all cab configurations — including Regular, Crew, or SuperCab — starting at $34,000 on top of the price of the base F-150. You can order one via the Steeda Performance Vehicles site right here if the Thunder strikes your fancy.

Steeda Thunder F-150 Package

Powertrain Upgrades

  • Steeda/Whipple 5.0L Gen 5x Stage 2 supercharger system
  • Steeda/Whipple high-performance engine calibration, CARB-Certified
  • MBRP side-exit exhaust

Exterior Upgrades

  • Extang Exceed tonneau cover
  • BedRug bed protector
  • Steeda Thunder graphic package
  • Color-matched paint package (bumpers, mirror caps, door handles, fender vents, grill)
  • Steeda aero package (rooftop spoiler, rear tailgate spoiler, hood scoop)
  • Tinted windows

Suspension Upgrades

  • Double-adjustable front QA1 coilovers with 4-inch-OD springs
  • Fully adjustable tubular front upper control arms
  • High-performance Delrin front bushings
  • Rear shock relocation kit
  • Performance rear leaf springs
  • Double-adjustable QA1 rear shocks
  • Adjustable traction bars

Wheel & Tire Package

  • Velgen DDR VFT6 forged aluminum wheels with gloss black powdercoat finish (22×10-inch front and rear)
  • Nitto NT420V 305/40R22 high-performance tires

Options

  • AlphaRex black LED projector headlight upgrade
  • Katzkin custom leather interior with Steeda embroidery
  • Wilwood TX6R big brake truck front brake kit includes: six-piston calipers, two-piece slotted rotors, steel braided brake lines, and performance brake pads
  • Steeda Performance fiberglass cowl hood, 4-inch rise
  • Steeda Performance fiberglass ram air hood
  • BedRug Impact bed liner, full coverage upgrade

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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