Ford has a long history of making special versions of its pickup trucks. Today, you can order the 2022 F-150 as a Tremor, Raptor or Platinum, and the 2022 Ford Ranger as a Tremor or a Splash, and with several trim packages that take them from work truck to boulevard cruisers.
The 2023 Rattler is the hot ticket right now. It will be a base XL F-150, but with some of the lighter-duty off-road goodies from the FX4 package, including the skid plates and locking rear differential. The 2022 Ranger Splash is an appearance package that includes body molding and special wheels, while the Ranger Tremor package is a more serious off-road setup that includes skid plates and a heavy-duty off-road suspension.
Here’s five special Ford Trucks that you probably forgot about:
The original Ford Tremor was boomin’
In the early 2000s a boomin’ stereo was more important than a big motor, and Ford heard the call. For 2002 and 2003, you could get a Ranger Tremor that was designed to shake and kick holes in the ground with its factory stereo. The only clue, if you couldn’t hear Sir Mix a Lot bumping in the back, that the 2002 and 2003 Ranger Tremor was a special truck was the small Tremor decal on the bed.
Ford only made a few thousand Ranger Tremors. While today’s Tremor is an off-road beast, yesterday’s Tremor was a boulevard cruiser designed to get you curbside attention. Its special feature was its 485-watt Pioneer CD sound system with a 10-inch subwoofer in the back and special speakers in the dash and doors. Other than that, it was a basic two-wheel-drive Styleside truck with a basic 154-hp V6. It could only be ordered black Sonic Blue, or Chrome Yellow.
All show: the F-150 NASCAR edition
In 1998 Ford was riding high on its sponsorship of NASCAR and the F-150 was “The official truck of NASCAR.” So, of course, Ford launched a NASCAR edition of the F-150 that aped the look of racing trucks and specifically the 1998 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series pickups.
Unlike the racing trucks, the F-150 NASCAR was nothing more than an appearance package that made it look like it was just a roll cage away from your local half-mile track. It was a regular two-door, two-wheel-drive, XL truck, with the standard 4.6-liter V8. To make it look quicker, it had a Roush-tipped side-exit exhaust and fancy Goodyear tires with yellow trim and a checkered flag decal on the bed, as well as a lower air dam.
Forget the Lightning, find a Thunderbolt
In a 2020 review, PBS’s Motor Week called the 2002 Ford Ranger SLP Thunderbolt “macho aggressive,” and they weren’t wrong. Ford resurrected the Thunderbolt name it used in the 1960s and slapped it on the bed of a Ranger that was adorned with a giant wing. Ford gave it a special 4-liter V6 with 222 hp. The little truck was quick for the day, hitting 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and rounding out the quarter mile in 14.9 at 95 mph.
This truck was designed for streetlight racing, not hauling. The handling was improved with front and rear stabilizer bars and 15-inch performance tires that made it at the time one of the best street trucks on the market.
Ford has used the Thunderbolt name on a few cars and trucks since the 1960s. Could the company resurrect the name with an EV version of the Ranger?
The blacked-out F-150 Nite edition
In 2020 Ford launched the 650-hp Nitemare F-150. It looked good and with the Roush mods it was seriously quick. But it wasn’t the first time Ford used the Nite name. In 1991 and 1992 ford took a regular F-150, painted it black, added a purple stripe, and called it the Nite edition. You could get it with a variety of V8 motors and in two- or four-wheel drive, and in regular cab or SuperCab models.
Later, we’d call these all-black trucks “murdered out,” but that term hadn’t been coined yet in 1992. While the F-150 Nite was popular, Ford also made a Bronco in Nite trim that is a rare site, indeed. Recently, a Nite edition sold for $17,500 on BringaTrailer.com.
The four-door Lightning
For several years Ford teamed with Harley-Davidson to create a variety of special edition trucks. Some had giant supercharged V8s, others simply had decals on the bed and special interiors. But the most iconic has to be the 2002 Harley-Davidson F-150. The 2002 Harley truck capitalized on the chopper trend of the day, but brought the goods with the same supercharged V8 you could get in the Lightning, and it had flames all over the interior vinyl. The version you had to have in ’02 was painted black on Harley orange, and it was was the perfect compliment to your Fat Boy or Road Glide.
The 2002 Harley-Davidson F-150 was a four-door Lightning that could storm to 60 mph in about 6 seconds. At the time it was nearly as quick as many Mustangs, but it could tow 4,500 pounds and seat four. Yes, only four. Ford ditched the rear bench of the standard truck and instead slotted in two bucket seats. The seats were separated by a very early-2000s plastic armrest covered in black vinyl with flames that would compliment a barbed-wire tattoo.
Related: You Just Might Want to Collect the 2022 Ford Ranger Splash Limited Edition