For the first half-century or so of this sport, trucks were more often than not one-off exceptions. They were unique to see, because not a lot of load-haulers were converted into ass-haulers. The first inklings of a mainstream performance truck popped up in the 1970s, and then in the early-1990s performance trucks were rolling off the production line, forever ingraining them into the street and strip performance scene. In 1999, Ford released the new supercharged SVT lightning that absolutely changed the definition of a factory hot-rod truck. Designed to get up and move, Ford dropped a supercharged 5.4L Modular motor between the frame rails. As you can well imagine, getting 380 ponies from the factory to hook in a vehicle without a lot of weight over the rear tires took some ingenuity from the factory. However, how many enthusiasts do you know that leave the power-making aspect of a performance vehicle unmolested? So that leaves the average second-generation lighting owner with a challenge – if you make more power– which is pretty easy with a factory-supercharged 5.4-liter SOHC engine – how do you get it to the ground in a repeatable, reliable way? Enter Stifflers Performance.
Stifflers, an Innovative Performance Technologies brand, is staffed with performance enthusiasts who have a passion for innovation. Their team decided to come up with a solution to make a stock Lightning chassis into a consistent and competitive platform. Sure there are a number of killer drag trucks out and about, but those have usually spent some time in a chassis shop, and have met with a welding torch or two. For the average enthusiast, not only is that an expensive and time-consuming proposition, but that can also limit the truck’s streetability. To that end, Stifflers designed a line of products which would increase the the rigidity of the stock Lightning frame as well as greatly improve traction off the line. And the best part about the parts, is that you can install everything yourself with a basic set of hand tools, in the driveway, in a half-a-day. Enter the Stifflers’ Long Bar Traction System and Lightning Chassis Stiffening System.
It has long been known in the Mustang world that one of the most important things you can do is tie together the subframe assemblies to eliminate chassis flex and put the power to the ground more efficiently. While the Lightning doesn’t really have subframes to connect, eliminating chassis flex is still an important first step in putting the power to the ground. For this, Stifflers developed their Lightning Chassis Stiffening System. The system acts as a support structure for the chassis via triangulation of braces. The brace installs in a mere 90 minutes with hand tools, and bolts into OEM mounting points—the only excep- tion would be if you have an aftermarket exhaust, in which case you’ll have to drill a single hole. Once installed, the brace will add stiffness and be a stout platform on which to mount the Long Arm Traction Kit.
The main focus of this review is Stifflers Long Bar Traction System. Making it really simple, the Long Bar system essentially functions as half of a ladder bar setup. First and foremost, the Long bar system only requires one hole to be drilled and uses factory mounting points for the rest of the installation. While it can be permanently welded to the rearend housing via welding, it doesn’t need to be to function properly. The standard attachment method uses compression brackets to mount the rear bracket to the housing. The Long Bar system minimizes axle rotation, while maximizing front end lift, helping to plant the power to the pavement. The chromoly bars are adjustable via a six-position mounting bracket, so that you can dial your Lightning in to changing track conditions. The high-strength rod ends react instantly and will stand up to repeated abuse. While the kit will help you tremendously at the racetrack, it’s also a streetable suspension setup. While a bolt-on suspension setup that cures a Lightning’s woes may sound too good to be true, the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and the 2011 Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning champion, Steve Martin, was running the Stifflers Lightning Chassis Stiffening System and was deadly-consistent all year long. Martin will be adding the Long Bar System over the winter—watch out for him in Bradenton!
Innovative Performance Technologies, LLC