Daylight was waning as Johnny Lightning fired up his Kenne Bell-blown orange Lightning for one last shot at the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park quarter-mile. The track was sticky, the air was great, and he was ready to let it all hang out. After all, he couldn't let the Lightning be outdone by the venerable Terminator Cobra and the new darling child of the SVT camp, the GT500.
As his Lightning rolled into the burnout box, everyone knew something big was going to happen, either good or bad. The truck tortured the rear tires, building a copious amount of heat for the utmost in stickiness and need for traction. Then Lightning inched towards the stage beam ever so carefully, getting in as shallow as he could for the greatest amount of rollout, and a bigger running start. The switch was flipped, and just after he brought the rpm up to the desired level for launch, Lightning matted the loud pedal. The truck squatted, then lurched forward and hiked the front end hard. At the 60-foot mark, the tone of the blown mod mill changed from mean to downright angry, and the orange hauler took off like a rocket. The truck wandered a bit at half-track, but Lightning never pulled his foot off of the throttle. He was going for broke, determined to either light up the scoreboards or blow it up in the process. As the truck streaked through the finish line cones, the boards lit up--9.56 at 141 mph.
Johnny Lightning's "hero" pass was just one of many story lines at the first-ever SVT Supercharged Shootout. Throw in a 9.43-second GT500, a bunch of wicked-quick Cobras, and one fragged 5.4L GT500 powerplant, and the day was filled with excitement, quick times, blazingly fast speeds, and high-octane fueled fun.
We put the call out for the baddest '03-'04 Cobras, '07-and-up GT500s, and '99-'04 Lightnings. Each car (or truck) was required to have the stock-style suspension, a complete interior, and an original-style engine. That meant the Cobras had to have a Four-Valve 4.6L mod motor, the GT500s the 5.4L Four-Valve behemoth, and a Two-Valve 5.4L Triton motor in the Lightnings. Only Roots or twin-screw blowers were allowed, any transmission was allowed, and the vehicles had to be street appearing.
Before we check out the results, let's glance at the lineup for the three teams invited to knock the ball out of the proverbial park.
Before you get your shorts in a knot, we are putting the GT500 first just because it's the newest addition to the SVT stable. As is common knowledge, the GT500 showcases a 5.4L Four-Valve mod mill that is topped with an Eaton Roots-style supercharger. While a hefty car to move, the extra valves and cubic inches help the GT500 knock down serious elapsed times in spite of the weight. Of the three GT500's that came to our shootout, one went with an aftermarket overdrive transmission, while the other two were banging gears. The blower choice was spread between a stock Eaton supercharger (that ran very well we might add) to a pair of large-by-huge Whipple 3.4L blowers. Even though some serious power would be transferred down the driveline, only one of the GT500 competitors chose to swap out the stock 8.8-inch rear for a beefier 9-inch. One thing that was prevalent was the willingness by these GT500 owners to cut up their brand new cars and install a full-on rollbar to make them NHRA legal. All told, the GT500 group ran as we expected--fast.