The Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler AG has a monster pickup truck that looks set to steal some of the thunder from Ford Motor Co.'s SVT Lightning F-150.
The high-performance Lightning, currently powered by a 380-horsepower V-8 engine, has been touted by Ford and truck enthusiasts as the world's baddest and fastest full-size pickup for the past decade.
But at the Chicago Auto Show on Thursday, Chrysler was due to take the wraps off a ground-shaking pickup built with undisputed bragging rights as the king of the road.
Filling the engine bay of the Dodge Ram SRT-10 is the largest engine in any production model pickup -- the 8.3 liter V-10 that powers the Dodge Viper sports car.
Its 500-horsepower rating surpasses any other pickup and virtually every production model sports car on the road today.
The supercharged Lightning can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.8 seconds according to Ford. But Chrysler says the SRT-10, which has a top speed of 150 miles per hour, can reach 60 miles an hour in 5.2 seconds.
That may pale in comparison with the Dodge Tomahawk prototype motorcycle that Chrysler unveiled at the Detroit auto show last month -- an outlandish vehicle also mated to a Viper engine and designed to hit zero-to-60 in about 2.5 seconds.
"By comparison to a Viper motorcycle this thing's mild," said Jim Hall, an industry analyst at AutoPacific Inc.
But Chrysler, which created its Performance Vehicle Organization just over a year ago, can still pride itself on building the fastest full-size pickup ever.
"We set out to build the Viper of trucks and we delivered," Jim Schroer, the Chrysler Group's head of global sales and marketing, said in a statement.
"This is a unique truck," Schroer added. "The Ram SRT-10 simply dominates the road."
No automaker likes to be called environmentally unfriendly. And at a time when federal regulators are threatening to raise fuel economy standards, Ford might be reluctant to say it plans to match the gas-sucking SRT-10's acceleration and power.
But Ford put a 2004 model SVT Lightning concept, with a 500-horsepower supercharged V-8, on display at the Detroit auto show. Ford could announce plans for a production version soon, and build it with anything it takes to overpower the SRT-10.
"What we truthfully don't want to do is get into a war where we're all tweaking horsepower every 10 minutes," Ford spokeswoman Sara Tatchio told Reuters.
She added, however, that speed matters in Detroit's macho and highly profitable world of pickups.
"We're pretty secure that the Lightning is going to continue to be fastest," said Tatchio.
"We created the market and we are pretty serious about maintaining leadership in it.