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F-150 Lightning Does Away With Ford’s Legendary C-Clamp Headlight Design

The Ford F-150 Lightning is the first battery electric vehicle within the iconic F-Series lineup. Given that they’re derived from the same general vehicle, the F-150 Lightning and the F-150 range with internal combustion engines (ICE) share a lot, including the cab, bed/box, body panels, and a good portion of the frame. However, the duo also has their differences: compared to the ICE F-150 models, the Lightning is set apart by a powerful electric powertrain, a modified frame, a (slightly) revised interior, plus restyled front and rear ends. Let’s take a closer look at one of the key differences in exterior styling between the two trucks.

Light bar active on 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning.

Light bar active on 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

First and foremost, the Lightning doesn’t feature a traditional grille like ICE-powered F-150 models. That should come as no surprise given the EV’s different cooling needs. But what is surprising is that the F-150 Lightning doesn’t feature Ford’s signature C-Clamp headlight design. In fact, the Lighting has seemingly moved away from this design characteristic, moving instead to a light bar-style headlight arrangement.

Ford's signatures C-Clamp headlight design on 2021 Ford F-150.

Ford’s signatures C-Clamp headlight design on 2021 Ford F-150

The C-clamp headlight motif was first introduced on the the 13th-generation Ford F-150, which launched for the 2015 model year before carrying over, in an updated fashion, for the current, 14th-gen truck. As the name implies, the C-clamp headlights feature a C-shaped outline around the headlamp assembly, creating a technical and tough appearance.

Ford's signatures C-Clamp headlight design on 2021 Ford F-150.

Ford’s signatures C-Clamp headlight design on 2021 Ford F-150

And while the F-150 Lightning features a similarly boxy design aesthetic, it removes the horizontal light strip at the bottom of the headlight, while adopting a new horizontal bar at the top of the grille that joins the headlights together. On XLT, Lariat and Platinum trims, this bar lights up, which is not the case on Pro and XLT trims.

Next-gen Ford Mondeo features a light bar.

Next-gen Ford Mondeo features a light bar

It’s currently unclear why Ford decided to move away from its C-Clamp motif for the F-150 Lightning, however it could be argued that adding the bottom of the “C” to the Lightning’s headlights would have created a somewhat odd appearance in the presence of the new light bar, prompting FoMoCo designers to create the open aesthetic across the lower part of the headlight arrangement. In other words, the C-clamp and light bar might not play well together.

Another possibility is that the light bar across the top of the grille is representative of Ford’s new design direction. In fact, the newest Ford models are increasingly implementing a light bar that connects the headlights horizontally across the grille.

2023 Ford Escape also features a light bar.

2023 Ford Escape also features a light bar

This trend can be seen on various 2023 model year Ford vehicles, including the all-new 2023 Ford Mondeo as well as the refreshed 2023 Ford Escape, which we recently caught completely undisguised. Both feature the horizontal light bar treatment on the front fascia.

Which design you prefer? Vote in the poll below, and be sure to subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford F-Series newsFord F-150 newsF-150 Lightning news, and ongoing Ford news coverage.

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Alexandra is a Colorado-based journalist with a passion for all things involving horsepower, be it automotive or equestrian.

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  1. eRock92

    The current gen ICE F-150 kind of already got rid of the C-clamp design as you would need the signature lighting in both the headlamps and fog lights to achieve it. My theory is the ICE F-150 will return to a C-clamp in the next refresh since the all the other new and refreshed trucks and pick-ups will have it by 2024 (that’s when 6G Ranger is expected to be in the US). Doesn’t make sense for the flagship pick-up to look different from the rest of the design language. It’s similar to how the Escape is going back to the Edge/Explorer design language in 2023 after its departure in the 2020.

  2. Larry S.

    Should’ve added a third button..

    1. Rich G

      Why are you here?

  3. Jay

    Legendary? What? Lol

  4. Gary . Virginia.

    Light bar.

  5. Falcon

    Jay, you beat me to the punch! LOL. Legendary, right. F doesn’t straighten out the recall problems they’ve been encountering, their bankruptcy will be legendary. If F can’t build ICE correctly, quality wise, ( they’ve been building engines for only 100 years) what would make me think they’ll prosper building something new to the automotive market, electrified vehicles? I guess F will always have their legendary headlights to be proud of!


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