SUPERSONIC – Ford Lightning

From day one, Jason Lippi liked to do things a little differently with cars. He could have simply bought an Aussie built Ford and made life easy for himself, but he wanted something a little more unique, something that made the challenge of going fast a little harder too. Enter his first Ford Lightning that he bought back in 2007.

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“There were none kicking around over here back then, and I loved the big look of the truck. They had a heap of attitude and were equipped with everything – air cond; cruise control, power steering, pin code entry, massively pumped rear guards and even factory fitted side pipes. They were just cool trucks. I watched a few videos about them and saw what was possible and jumped on the bandwagon. Over in the US, the blown Ford scene is huge, and there are a few specialists in the pickup field too. One particular guy, Johnny Lightning, runs his own performance shop (JLP) and had a truck like mine that ran low 8s at the time. His knowledge is unbeatable. After talking to him and emailing back and forth too, I decided to just listen to him, have him prepare the parts list for the build on that car, and then use my mate Simon Birch from XFT to build the engine and tune the car,” explained Jason.

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The result – a 10.90 @ 125mph from the Kenne Bell supercharged, 330ci Modular motor. A 10-second street car is a win in anyone’s books, but the result is even more impressive when you find out the car tips the scales at 2.4 tonnes! The old girl was no lightweight, and that was part of the problem in the end. “I could have started cutting that car up and putting big tyres on it and then pulling weight out of it, but that would have just ruined it. It was and still is, a killer street car that is awesome to drive. After plenty of thinking I decided to build a whole new car.”

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After establishing such a good rapport with Johnny Lightning, Jason decided to get him involved in the new build. “Honestly, it was the easiest decision to ever make. Johnny had already built another four serious Lightnings by now, and his own car was now in the 7s. He just knew how to set them up and make them go fast. It was a no brainer. I found a streetcar in Providence, like my white one, and sent that to him and he built the whole car for me.” Johnny got busy by stripping the car, and then the cutting started. The whole front end was removed and replaced with a one-piece fibreglass item that simply unclips. At the same time, the front chassis was tubed out and set up with Strange suspension and brake components.

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Running towards the back of the car, the doors were replaced with fibreglass versions, and the rear was set up with a 4-link, wheel tubs and Strange components too. The 9.75-inch differential is equipped with a Truetrac centre and 4.11 gears. “When it came time to paint the car, I asked for the Sonic Blue colour. It was a factory colour that was only used on 1,000 units. I thought that was a nice touch. I reckon the effort applied on the front of the truck is pretty neat too.” The big rig rolls on 16-inch America Racing wheels shod with Hoosier race rubber. The finished product, in race form, is around 1 tonne lighter than the white car – a huge difference!

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“I had Johnny set the car up with a very subtle engine combo, and it was good for high 9s. Nothing too over the top compared to what I had planned. Once again, I went with Simon Birch from Xtreme Ford Tuning (XFT) and let him go for broke on the car. It is all of his development and tuning in the car.” Simon started with a brand new 5.8-litre motor – an alloy, Ford Racing block was grouted and fitted with Darton sleeves. The Ford Racing crank wears Manly rods and pistons. The GT500 Super Cobrajet heads have had a tickle here and there and a set of custom camshafts have been slotted in too. The 4-litre Whipple Supercharger is a serious bit of kit, as is the billet, 180mm oval-shaped throttle body.

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The fuel system consists of 2 Weldon Racing pumps, ID 2000 injectors and braided, stainless steel lines. Nick Crouch from The Exhaust Centre created the custom headers that feed the system that exits each side of the truck. Previously in the States, Johnny set up the Big Stuff 3 ECU in the cabin and here in Perth, Jason and his good mate Alby set up the data logger, the RPM solenoid shift and some other gear in the race-ready cabin. Other features inside the truck are – the Kirkey race seat, the custom console, the Grant wheel and a host of Autometer gauges.

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“It took a bit of work to get the new motor in. We had to modify the firewall, create new engine mounts and modify the steering rack. After making so many mods, I called Jerry Bickel over in the US and asked for his advice on the set up for the front end. He gave me some angles to try, and when we ran some test passes, the car went arrow straight. I was pumped!” As for quarter mile times, with the limited testing the Jason has had, the 1,140hp car has already racked up an 8.70 @ 164mph. “I would love to get the car down into the low 8s, and that is more than possible. I am so impressed with the car, and I can just get it in it and do my thing. No dramas and no pain. Johnny and Simon have given me the ultimate Lightning. I mean seriously, running 8s in a truck, that’s pretty cool.”

Shot at the Perth Motorplex WA Grand Finals

PHOTO COURTESY OF https://www.highoctanephotos.com/index

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