The current Ford F-150 Lightning is the first production electric pickup to come out of Detroit. Even so, the Blue Oval is preparing a second generation for 2025, which will switch to a dedicated electric platform that should help it overcome some of the current model’s limitations, such as towing depleting the battery at dizzying rates. Then again, the Lighting was never that focused on hardcore truck stuff, as this badge used to be reserved for performance road pickups. Alas, no big automaker still offers asphalt-biased trucks these days, with the aftermarket and, in cases like that of the 2023 Ford F-150 Lighting Flareside, digital artists, stepping in to remedy that.
Truth be told, now that electrification is depriving performance vehicle drivers of the enticing noise and vibrations generated by internal combustion engines, the kind of truck that used to be defined by the Lighting badge (we’ll get back to this) wouldn’t make sense, as the extra size and weight (compared to a car) would only affect the range, while the all-terrain abilities would naturally be impacted.
And this is why digital artist Oscar Vargas (aka wb.artist20) based his Lighting Flareside rendering not on the said EV truck, but on its ICE-powered platform mate. And since going fast is all this 3D proposal cares about, the regular cab, short bed version was selected.
More power for less truck, but with extra style
There are two main ingredients that make up this virtual build, with the first involving the quadruple tailpipes at the back. And while the pixel master doesn’t mention this, the 2023 F-150 Raptor R‘s Shelby GT500-borrowed supercharged 5.2L V8 (700 hp, 640 lb-ft of torque) would be the natural choice. After all, you wouldn’t want to make some serious noise only to get smoked by the electric Lightning, which is good for mid-12s quarter-mile times.
Then there’s the Fleetside bit, which takes us back all the way to 1957. Until then, all big players on the U.S. truck market offered pickups with rear fenders outside the bed. However, for the said year, Ford introduced the option of flush bedsides, with the wheel wells sitting inside the cargo box. The new form was labeled Styleside, while the then-conventional cargo box featuring prominent fenders became known as Flareside for clear differentiation.
The two bed styles have different names depending on the automaker they come from. So, before the end of that decade, Chevy went with Fleetside (fenders in) and Stepside (fenders out), GMC chose Wideside (in) and Fenderside (out), while Dodge offered Sweptline and Utiline, respectively.
Now, since the Flareside approach eats up more room in the cargo box, F-150s haven’t offered this in quite a while. Interestingly, the switch from the first-gen (1993-1995) SVT Lighting and the second iteration of the model (the one that came before the original Raptor of 2009) not only saw the road devil offering a serious boost in the performance department, but also involved a return to the Stepside form. So it was only natural for the artist to revive the feature here.
This artist dreamt up similar offerings from Chevy and Dodge/Ram
For the record, when Ford first tasked the former SVT skunkworks with creating the original Lighting, it did so in response to the Chevy 454 SS (1990-1994). And it’s worth mentioning that, in an effort to portray a blacktop-oriented performance pickup from each of Detroit’s Big Three, Oscar has also brought us a modern-day incarnation of the said toy. However, the pixel wizard transformed this into the Chevy 632 SS, digitally integrating the 1,000 hp ZZ632 mother of crate engines that Chevy currently offers.
His third 3D work? A no-longer-rugged-terrain-prepped Ram TRX “shortie” that would act as a spiritual successor to the Viper-engined Ram SRT-10, of course.