If ever there were created an unmitigated Boy Toy, Ford's new SVT F-150 Lightning pickup must qualify.

Available in any color, as long as it's red, white or black, the $30,000 SVT Lightning is built for a single purpose: Performance. Make no mistake. This is nothing less than a hot rod disguised as a truck, plain and simple. That alone would limit its appeal, as we found out.

She: I was first tempted to say, gee, they finally made the sequel to "Dumb and Dumber." But in fairness to Ford's Special Vehicle Team, a sort of custom shop within the mass manufacturer, I think I'll talk about the Weather Channel. Did you catch that special they did on lightning? The promos all said, "Lightning. An explosive and dangerous phenomenon." Well, the truck lives up to that reputation.

He: You're such a girl.

She: I know there aren't many of those at SVT. It's like they let a bunch of guys who were jacked up on Viagra loose in the design room. And here's what you get.

He: Hey, wait a minute. Let's go back. What do you have against "Dumb and Dumber?" That was one of the great movies of our time. And what guy would ever watch the Weather Channel? And that was also a low blow about the Viagra. Especially when you consider who really is nuts about this truck. At practically every intersection, some teenage kid ....

She: Boy.

He: .... Snaps his neck watching the Lightning go by. It's sure an eye-catcher. Our test Lightning was done up in Oxford White, with such signature styling cues as rocker sill extensions and a unique front fascia that incorporates round driving lamps. There's also the characteristic exhaust rumble - music to any red-blooded American boy - from the massive 5.4-liter V-8. SVT fitted a supercharger and boosted the horsepower to 360.

She: I'm crabby, because I found the Lightning difficult to park and steer at low speeds because of the ridiculous 295/45ZR18 tires. They're way oversized, with almost no sidewalls, so the ride isn't very comfortable either. I thought last year's SVT Contour was so cool because it was so subtle. Here's a sport sedan that didn't have a spoiler. The SVT guys said they "didn't need a spoiler for credentials." Bravo to that. Then they go and make a caricature of a truck like the Lightning. It's a cartoon truck.

He: There are two basic fallacies in your argument. One, the word "subtle" isn't in most guys' vocabulary. And since when did you ever present a "logical" argument? For once, an automaker turns out a vehicle that has strong emotional appeal, only it appeals to the male emotions. You just can't deal with it. Admit it. Just picture a truck that's been fitted with beefy stabilizer bars, stiffer springs and gas-filled shocks. And four-wheel disc brakes. Doesn't that heat up your blood?

She: Well, I'll admit even peering in the window of the Lightning will pique your interest. The split bench seat has been modified to look like twin bucket seats wi th pretty jazzy upholstery. The white-face gauge cluster looks pretty nice, too.

He: I also admired the cockpit, although Ford still hasn't figured out how to close up those unsightly gaps between the edges of the instrument panel and the A-pillars. You're also right about one thing. This isn't exactly your every day practical workhorse truck. The fuel economy around town is a lousy 14 miles per gallon. And I'd hate to throw anything in the bed. If I'm dropping 30 grand on a fancy truck like this, it's going to be used strictly for show and go - no heavy hauling, thank you.

She: I think if I were to talk to a shrink about my problems with the Lightning, it would boil down to: Jealousy. The SVT products are aimed at a primarily male audience. It was true with the SVT Contour, which had 86 percent male ownership in the first nine months, and it's true with the SVT Mustang Cobra. I know Ford gets its female executives and secretaries out to test products in their high heels ut they've yet to commit to the female market, like they have with the Special Vehicle Team and guys. What would they come up with if they were just thinking of us? A convertible minivan? A sport-utility with a fridge and a toilet?

He: If they listened to you, a lighted vanity mirror in the steering wheel and an in-dash TV screen tuned to the Weather Channel.

1999 Ford SVT F-150 Lightning

Anita's rating: subpar

Paul's rating: world class

Type: Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, three-passenger pickup

Price: Base, $29,995; as tested, $30,145 (including $640 destination charge)

Engine: 5.4-liter V-8; 360 hp at 4,750 rpm; 440 lb-ft torque at 3,000 rpm

EPA fuel economy: 14 mpg city/21 mpg highway

12-month insurance cost, according to AAA Michigan*: $892 (Estimate. Rates may be higher or lower, depending on coverage and driving record.)

Where built: Oakville, Ontario

What we liked: Outrageous supercharged engine (Paul); at-the-edge handling and performance (Paul); snazzy cockpit (Paul); sexy exterior treatment (Paul); impressive 5,000-pound towing capacity; a head-turner, especially among teenage boys

What we didn't like: Ridiculous exterior treatment (Anita); doesn't even have a driver's vanity mirror (Anita); still those unsightly gaps in interior trim; lousy fuel economy; hefty sticker price; difficult to park