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By Frank S. Washington / Special to Autos Insider

DETROIT -- Ford capped off the debut of its 2004 F-150 pickup truck by introducing the SVT F-150 Lightning concept vehicle Monday at the North American International Auto Show.

"We're going to get a new Lightning and this is similar to what we will do," said Philip Martens, vice president of Ford Blue Oval Programs.

The SVT F-150 Lightning is powered by a 5.4-liter supercharged V8 that is similar to the engine of the Ford GT40.

The long-bloc V8 produces 500 pound-feet of torque, sports four valves per cylinder and in the concept it is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. It is the same transmission used in the SVT Mustang Cobra.

John Coletti, director of Ford's SVT programs, said the engine could also be mated to a five-speed automatic.

The SVT F-150 Lightning rides on 22-inch tires, front and rear, and it has an independent rear suspension.

A patented technology called "SuperCooler" boosts the SVT's output by as much as 50 horsepower for 30 to 45 seconds when it is activated. It will regenerate within two minutes.

"DCX said they would turn the Lightning into a gentle rain (with the Dodge Ram SRT-10); I don't think so," said Coletti.

Martens said that the a new SVT F-150 will be produced from 12 to 24 months after the 2004 F-150 goes into production.

The 2004 F-150 will begin rolling off the assembly lines at two assembly plants Kansas City and Norfolk, VA, next summer and they will be joined by a third plant in 2004.

"Even die-hear Chevy owners will have to come take a look at the new F-150," said Steve Lyons, president of Ford Division. But, Ford will target current with F-150 owners with the new truck first.

Lyons said there are currently 10 million F-150s on the road.

"It will be the biggest launch for any vehicle, anywhere, anytime," said Lyons. "These are the crown jewels," he said referring to the five models of the 2004 F-150.

Lyons said the advertising campaign for the 2004 F-150 will begin in September.


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