Has Ford begun a testing program for a new-generation follow-up to its SVT Lightning performance truck? New mules caught running the streets of Dearborn strongly hint at the possibility. In addition to mules that are clearly progenitors for the ’17 SVT Raptor, a new style of mule has now appeared suggesting a similar SVT-tuned powerplant, but without the Raptor's familiar wide-body packaging.
Same Exhaust Setup, Same (Or Similar) Engines Likely
The SVT mules both have dual-exhaust tips exiting straight back through makeshift cut-outs in the rear bumper. The exhaust setups mimic the height and placement found on the Liquid Blue ’17 Raptor introduced at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. This suggests that both trucks are testing similar high-performance powertrains, likely based on the twin-turbocharged 3.5L V6 promised in the show truck. It's worth noting that the Raptor mule had a sticker on the fuel door specifying the use of 103-octane fuel.
A Body With No Raptor Overtones
Where things get interesting is in the body styles and key details that are displayed on the two, distinct mules. One mule clearly displays the Fox Racing suspension and the wider front and rear tracks for which Ford's Raptor truck is known. The other mule is clearly based on a normal-width F-150, which looks more like a typical street truck without the Baja-busting pretense—something much more in keeping with the configuration that would be found on a follow-up to the Ford Lightning. It's true that the new mule still seems to be outfitted with the same wheels found on the Raptor mule, and not exactly high-performance tires as of yet, but it appears that they're early in their gestation, so they could be dipping into the SVT parts bin until things get further sorted out.
Lest there be any doubt as to the SVT roots of the two mules, KGP shooters followed both of them right to Ford's SVT workshop, which is shared with the high-performance arm of Roush Industries. The non-Raptor mule can be seen driving right into the SVT/Roush entrance.
Will Lightning Strike?
Ford hasn't announced any performance trucks beyond the next Raptor, but the company has promised a big wave of high-performance models to hit showrooms by 2020. With that in mind, the evidence on the streets should be taken seriously. SVT clearly appears to be testing some other form of performance-minded F-150 that does not follow the Raptor's recipe, which could mean a resurrection of something like the SVT Lightning pickup might be in the works.
Photo credit: KGP Photography