Ford’s Special Vehicles Team (SVT) went to work on the 5.8-liter small block V-8 and managed to squeeze 240 horsepower out of it. A lowered suspension, new shocks, anti-roll bars and 17-inch tires put that power to the road and made the Lighting a great handling truck in addition to being a speed demon. The Lightning cranked up to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds and blazed through the quarter mile in 15.6 seconds. The biggest complaint about the Lightning was that it gulped down gasoline.
The Chevy El Camino is probably the best-known example in this category but the Ranchero was the first and is a pretty cool car/truck. The Ranchero was introduced in 1957 and was in production until 1979. A total of 508,355 units were produced and while we like the early models, they are all pretty sweet.
Let’s start with the 9.1:1 compression, which means you can run this on pump gas. Add in a cast aluminum block, titanium valves, and a forged steel crank attached to forged titanium rods attached to forged aluminum pistons. Top that off with hydraulic roller cams, aluminum heads, and a high-helix supercharger pushing 10.5psi of boost.
The Chrysler Town & Country is basically a rebadged Dodge Grand Caravan with some added tech and comfort. Even in its lowest trim level, the Town & Country offers more refinement than a Dodge Grand Caravan. Still, as used minivans go, there are better models on the market today.
While we still like the look of the original Bronco best (see the Baja further down the list), the second generation is more practical for most people, especially if you have toys to tow. This is what a pickup should look like, rugged, tall and bursting with attitude. This truck could handle 35-inch tires without lifting the suspension.
A removable top made the Bronco a perfect choice for sunny days and a retractable rear window that disappeared into the tailgate was added for this generation. A folding rear bench seat ups the cargo space so you could easily haul plenty of gear into the wild.
Another party trick of the 488 is its ability to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum (LPG) in addition to regular pump gasoline. That’s thanks to the stainless valves and hardened valve seats. A forged crank, rods, pistons, full-length cooling jackets, and cast-iron head and block ensure maximum durability and longevity even in high-stress situations. Just add your choice of intake manifold, carb, and all the regular bolt-ons we talked about earlier, and you’re good to go.
In fact, at highway speeds, the Grand Caravan is one of the noisiest used minivans around. The engine and transmission noise in the cabin can drive you insane if you ride long enough. When you throw in the wind and road noise that join the cacophony, you can see why this used minivan should never leave town.
This is one of the best old Ford trucks as far as we are concerned, but they can be hard to come by. Restored versions tend to be pricey but it’s a great choice if you can get ahold of one.
There’s nothing like a quick and dirty slapdash lift job with some pucks to get the lifted look. However, this won’t hold up when push comes to shove on choppy surfaces or hard slopes. You will need suspension travel as well as flexibility and rigidness at the right times. When starting your Jeep mods, hard plastic pucks won’t give you the response and dependability you need.
Speaking of tires, they do absolutely no good if side to side movement with low pressure causes them to slip off the rim. Being in the middle of nowhere with rubber out of place and no way to change it is an awful situation. However, there are already bead lock rims on the market to prevent this exact problem.
In addition to their beauty, they were pretty powerful for their day. In 1954, Ford dropped in an overhead valve V-8 that put out 130 horsepower. By 1956, it was up to almost 180. In addition, 1953 was the first year that an automatic transmission was put into a Ford pickup.
That didn’t stop this shop from stuffing the lower-compression street version into a 2012 GMC Sierra single cab truck, a vehicle which, as you may know, has almost no weight over the rear wheels. That must be a hoot to drive.