All posts by Greg Wackett

Saleen Owners and Enthusiasts Club co-founder. Operates the Saleen Locating Service. Saleen historian and memorabilia collector.

SPONSOR LISTING 1989

FORD MOTOR COMPANY will be taking on the challenge again in 1989 with Autosport team. The Saleen Mustangs and Sportrucks will serve to confirm Ford’s performance, endurance, and reliability standards in head to head competition with manufacturers.

GENERAL TIRE is back this year with its General Tire Performance Team. Saleen Autosport carries the team colors as its representative in the GT class of the SCCA Escort Endurance Championship and the Racetruck challenge, where the vehicles will be riding on General’s next generation of high-performance tire, the XP2000.

MONTGOMERY WARD is entering its third year of motorsports involvement in 1989 in its efforts to continually broaden exposure for its 300-plus Auto Express Centers. Montgomery Ward’s sponsorship is a vital part of the General Tire Performance Team.

FORD AUTHORIZED REMANUFACTURERS is a department within Ford Parts and Service Division of Ford Motor Company. With its strong network of remanufactures throughout the country, the department offers numerous factory authorized remanufactured parts of all Ford vehicles.

GNB/CHAMPION BATTERIES is planning another big year with the team to promote its new line of quality high-performance batteries for the street. Champion batteries are standard equipment on the new Saleen SSC.

MONROE FORMULA GP SHOCKS AND STRUTS are engineered with individually selected valve components for precision ride control and feature unique polyurethane bushings for firmness and excellent road feedback. This combination adds up to winning performance handling for the team.

WALKER MUFFLERS is providing it’s support and excellent products for a return to the Saleen’s championship quest in 1989. Its DynoMax muffler enhances performance on all street vehicles as well as the new Saleen SSC.

CHAMPION SPARK PLUG COMPANY, a long-standing supporter of motorsports, will be back again to help put the Saleen Mustangs and Sportrucks in the winner’s circle. Champion will be supplying the race team with plugs, wires, filters and chemicals along with its affiliate, Anco Wiper Blades.

AUBURN GEAR is a high-tech, long-term supplier to the automotive industry. Its high-performance, limited-slip differentials, ring and pinion sets and custom gears and shafts are factory equipment for many major manufacturers and is a supplier to the new Saleen SSC.

VALVOLINE OIL COMPANY has long been synonymous with winning teams in all forms of racing. It is supplying oil products and other chemicals to both the Saleen Mustang and Sportruck teams.

WE ARE BACK

ANAHEIM, CA., February 27, 1989… Saleen Autosport is back and ready for the new year in the SCCA Escort Endurance Showroom Stock Series and the Racetruck Challenge. “Our winter has been very busy but very productive,” said Steve Saleen, President of Saleen Autosport and designer of the Saleen Mustang and Sportruck.

“We have aligned ourselves to take back a championship in the Mustangs in a most dominating fashion this year and set new standards for the Racetruck competition.”

We are also proud to announce a new Team Manager for the SCCA Teams. Peter Magnusson joins us from the Newman/Sharp-organization. His experience ranges from SCCA Trans Am to the IMSA Showroom Stock Series and his will undoubtedly make a great addition to the effort.

Linda Anderson, Marketing Director of the SCCA Teams, will again handle the hospitality, marketing and the on-the-road administration responsibilities for both the Mustang and Sportruck series. Her talents are always evident as the big yellow and white team rolls in to town.

The Saleen Autosport Racing Division has been significantly expanded to include another new facility in Livonia, Michigan which will house the new Saleen Autosport CART/PPG Indy Car Team as well as the engine dyno and R&D facilities. As former Business Manager for Zakspeed/USA, Uli Petersohn has been appointed to that same position for Saleen Autosport’s Racing Division and will be responsible for the administration duties for both the SCCA and CART teams. Petersohn said, “We have not only expanded the Racing Division but at the same time, we are streamlining a great deal to make the entire organization much more effective.”

Pete Evanow, Vice President of Marketing for Saleen Autosport has also brought together again a very prestigious group of sponsors for the SCCA teams. GENERAL TIRE, FORD MOTOR COMPANY, MONTGOMERY WARD AUTO EXPRESS CENTERS, MONROE FORMULA GP SHOCKS, AUBURN GEAR, AMERICAN RACING, GNB/CHAMPION BATTERIES, WALKER MUFFLERS, CHAMPION SPARK PLUGS COMPANY AND GALLERIA AREA FORD are out returning sponsors, and are a part of the championship-winning General Tire Performance Team.

“We are also very excited to announce our new sponsors for 1989,” said Evanow. Those include VALVOLINE OIL COMPANY, which will be featured on the Saleen Mustangs and Sportrucks as well the team’s Indy Car, and are a welcome addition to products and support.

Additionally, FORD AUTHORIZED REMANUFACTURED PARTS will become a very important part of the championship-seeking teams. “We are very pleased to be part of the Saleen organization this year. FAR, aligned with Saleen, will be a great unbeatable combination, ” said Mark Hopkins, Manager of Ford’s Remanufactured Products Department.

We are back and ready to beat the competition.

ESQUIRE: MEN WILL BE BOYS

By: DOUGLAS FRANTZ
Original Article: Esquire

“I was headed out to the Mojave to test the Saleen when I met the Porsche.”
1988 Esquire Saleen Mustang
Man At His Best: ARNOLD ROTH

Headed for the Mojave Desert, the bright red Saleen Mustang came up behind a white Porsche Carrera. The Porsche was cruising at 70 miles per hour when the driver seemed to sense the intruder. Without a glance in the mirror, he eased the Carrera up to 80. The Mustang hung close.

Suddenly the Porsche accelerated, switched lanes sharply, and cut into an opening in the traffic. The Mustang was still on his tail. In the Mustang the driver’s hands tightened on the leather-covered steering wheel. The muscles in his stomach tensed.

I know about those knotted muscles. I was the fool clutching the Mustang’s steering wheel, about to risk life, limb, and a jailable traffic offense.

Shopping for a Mustang GT a couple of weeks earlier, I had come upon my first Saleen Mustang at a Ford dealership in Los Angeles. Now, the Mustang GT is plenty of car straight out of the box, with a 225-horsepower V-8 and sleek styling. But the red fastback with SALEEN MUSTANG across the top of the windshield had the sheen of a handcrafted touring car and the profile of a street brawler.

It made me think of rural Indiana.

When I was growing up there in the 1960s, one object of my many youthful lustings was the Shelby Mustang, a rocket-fast pony car created from a stock Mustang in exotic California by Carroll Shelby. The heir to Shelby’s legend is Steve Saleen, a shy thirty-nine-year-old race driver who began converting Mustangs in a garage in 1984. Since then, his Saleen Autosport has boosted production nearly fifty-fold and moved into a sparkling new plant in Anaheim last June. In 1988, he will turn out about 1,200 special-edition serialized Saleens for sale through some 150 performance-oriented Ford dealers nationwide.

The Saleen starts life as a stock Mustang LX direct from Dearborn. The 5.0 liter V-8 and five-speed transmission are left alone so the Ford power-train warranty remains in effect. But the cars are stripped of their interior, suspension, brakes, wheels, and rear wing. Special Flofit Sport seats are installed along with a leather-covered Italian steering wheel and a six-speaker Pioneer sound system. The aerodynamics are re-worked with a front airdam, molded side skirts, a new rear wing, and a rear valance. These track-developed modifications improve both speed and handling, helping to keep the car squat in corners. Saleen says the valance tucked under the rear end adds 4 mph alone.

The new suspension also reflects Saleen’s racing experience. Shorter, stiffer springs lower the car 1.5 inches to improve handling. Six Monroe Formula GP gas struts and shock absorbers and chassis-stiffening’ steel braces keep the car solid and balanced under the harshest cornering. All four sixteen-inch wheels get Ford SVO disc brakes for firm stopping power, and the four-lug wheels are replaced by ones with five lugs, which are less likely to break off under the stress of a screaming slide through a hairpin turn.

By the time the car is shipped to a Ford dealer, the price has gone from the factory’s $13,000 or so to $21,500. Add four grand for a convertible, and expect to pay more for either model because the limited supply means dealers often charge a premium. What you get, however, is a car that surpasses much pricier models, a Mustang that roars along a twisting mountain road as if it were on rails and boasts a top speed of 149 mph, the same as a Porsche Carrera.

I spent most of a day in a scarlet ’88 Saleen, cruising beach towns in a throaty second gear and plunging down hilly roads. I was headed to the Mojave to test the top-end boast when I crossed paths with the Porsche. Speeding east on the Riverside Freeway, I followed the Porsche onto a two-lane ramp leading to Interstate 15 and San Diego. We hit the ramp side by side at 85 and exited side by side at 115. The Porsche driver smiled, lifted his right hand and pointed jauntily down the highway. My adrenal glands were way past the redline, but the Saleen was glued to the pavement and accelerating. As I wove in and out of sparse traffic at ridiculous speed, the image of a video game called Pole Position flashed into my mind. I always smash up the little electronic cars.

Summoning the courage to take my eyes off the road, I was stunned: 142 mph, 5,600 rpms, holy cow. The Porsche was a couple hundred feet ahead. The Saleen had some left. I did not. As I coasted back to 75, the Porsche drifted alongside. The driver smiled and waved suavely. I took the first available exit.

Physically spent, dripping with sweat, I was giddy, grinning stupidly. As I pulled gingerly back onto the interstate in the other direction, a black-and-white California Highway Patrol car swept past. Suddenly I didn’t feel too suave.

LOYALISTS JUST LOVE STEVE SALEEN’S SLEEK MODIFIED MUSTANG

Steve Saleen
Steve Saleen

By: DOUGLAS FRANTZ on November 10, 1988
Original Article: LOS ANGELES TIMES

Carroll Shelby, meet Steve Saleen.

For those who may not remember, Shelby is the guy who put race-car muscle into Ford’s sporty Mustang more than 20 years ago. He started in a garage outside Los Angeles and rode his famous Shelby Mustang into a multimillion- dollar business that he eventually sold to Ford.

Saleen started in a California garage, too, and the agility and eye- popping speed of his Saleen Mustang have earned it cult status among slightly fanatical driving enthusiasts in just four years.

As heir to the Mustang crown, Saleen transforms assembly-line, V-8-powered Mustangs from Ford into something special, with racing suspensions, aerodynamic alterations and other refinements. The final result, says Car & Driver magazine, “looks like a take-no-prisoners street fighter.”

William Bryant, an actor who loves cars, owns a candy-apple red 1968 Shelby Mustang convertible. He heard about Saleen from other Mustang loyalists and wound up getting a ride from him in one of his cars.

“We entered a freeway on-ramp and came out at 97 miles an hour,” Bryant said. “I said, ‘I’ve got to have one.'”

He wound up with three in the family stable, a 1985 fastback and a 1987 convertible for himself, and an identical ’85 fastback for his daughter. All three cars are black. Bryant has also persuaded 15 friends to buy Saleens.

Saleen has not reached Shelby’s legendary stature. However, Motor Trend magazine recently called him “one of America’s hottest limited-edition automotive designers,” and his business has accelerated faster than a Saleen Mustang. The number of cars turned out has grown more than twenty-fold in four years, and employment has gone from three to 65 people.

In May, the privately held company, Saleen Autosport, moved into a new 45,000-square-foot plant. The company maintains its racing and engineering division in Detroit, close to Ford headquarters. However, Saleen said he doesn’t intend to move design and production out of Southern California. “The trends and the fads really are created here.”

In the sparkling-clean, hangar-like building in Anaheim, Saleen is tapping a trend that started in Southern California, hot conversion trucks. A special- edition Ford Ranger truck, with high-performance additions, is being added to the Saleen line.

In addition, Saleen is refining an ultrafast supercar for the ’89 model year that he promises will outperform a Chevrolet Corvette. A mean-looking prototype sits in a corner of the building; the standard fuel-injected, 225- horsepower, 5-liter Ford V-8 is juiced to 300-plus horsepower and a roll bar arches over the leather interior.

By moving into the growing sport truck market and producing 250 of the supercars, Saleen expects to double production to 2,400 vehicles next year, an optimistic projection but based on an impressive track record that actually started on the track.

At 39, he has been racing professionally since 1975 — and his first win came in a Shelby Mustang. He moved up through Formula Super Vee to Formula Atlantic. Last year, his Mustang racing team won four major championships on the Sports Car Club of America circuit, and Saleen plans his debut in the Indianapolis 500 next year.

It was on the race circuit in 1983 that Saleen met Ford officials and decided to produce his cars with their cooperation.

In 1984, he turned out 50 Saleen Mustangs. The next year output jumped to 180. In 1986, it was 290; in 1987, 400. This year he will turn out 1,100 to 1,200 Mustangs.

The suggested price of $21,500 for a Saleen hardtop, while not in a league with a Corvette or Porsche, is heady for a Mustang. A top-of-the-line stock hardtop Mustang sells for about $13,000 to $15,000. Saleen’s convertibles, which make up about a quarter of the annual run, list for nearly $24,500.

These are not the crude hot rods of mechanics who bolt on parts for pure performance. They are the result of years on the track and race-bred engineering.

The basic car is a Mustang LX, with the 5-liter V-8. Most of the cars have a five-speed transmission, although occasionally a buyer wants an automatic. The car also has luxury options such as power windows and locks and air conditioning.

The process begins when Ford ships the cars by rail to Saleen’s shop, where they are stripped of their interior, suspension, brakes, wheels and many body parts. Saleen does not monkey with the engine or transmission, which means that Ford’s power-train warranty and the emissions-control certification remain in effect.

Workers install special sport seats and matching rear seat upholstery and door panels. A leather-wrapped, three-spoke Italian steering wheel goes in, along with Hurst shifter linkage. An 80-watt, six-speaker stereo cassette system is installed alongside instrumentation that includes a 170-mph speedometer.

RAIN AND MORE RAIN

ANAHEIM, CA., September 9, 1988… The Saleen Mustang team has recently completed a back-to-back confrontation with the rain and the Chevy’s.

Road-America was the first stop on August 27 for an inaugural appearance for the Escort Endurance Championship. Saleen Autosport also welcomed for an inaugural appearance with the team, two very talented drivers from Brazil. Leon Duarte’ and Fabio Greco joined David Hellweg in the #21 Saleen Mustang. Leon and Fabio are very experienced drivers representing Ford of Brazil in the U.S. “We are delighted to have ‘The Boys from Brazil’ join our group. They are not only very talented and aggressive drivers, but every bit the professional,” said Team Owner, Steve Saleen.

The rain soaked three hour race caused a roll-over crash for one of the Chevy’s and the #21 Saleen Mustang. Neither driver was injured. The two remaining Fords driven by Steve Saleen, Pete Halsmer, Desire’ Wilson and Rick Titus finished in a very hotly contested 3rd and 5th place, keeping a 3 point lead for the Championship.

On to more rain the following weekend in Atlanta, Georgia for the Labor Day 3-hour event. Joining Steve Saleen in the #19 car, George Follmer helped lead the car to 3rd place, while Desire’ Wilson and Rick Titus brought #20 home in 4th. The #21 Saleen Mustang of Fabio Greco and David Hellweg suffered an engine failure on lap 19 after challenging for the lead. Still leading the Championship by 1 point going into a 12 hour event at Mid-Ohio on September 24; the team is preparing for their specialty – a real endurance race. The team will be welcoming many representatives of our sponsors this weekend in a special hospitality area. A Saleen Autosport sponsored Mustang Corral is also part of the very special day.

SALEEN AUTOSPORT TO INTRODUCE MUSTANG SSC

August 9, 1988 – Boston, Massachusetts – Saleen Autosport introduces the 1989 Saleen Mustang SSC prototype, the newest edition to an already rare breed. This special limited edition of the Saleen Mustang is backed by approximately 300 HP as well as additional high performance capabilities expected of the Saleen Mustang.

The Saleen Mustang SSC, to be produced in the spring of 1989, is the next phase in the Saleen Mustang’s evolution and brings with it a special quality with its refined handling, high horsepower output, very limited production run of 250 and namesake.

Below listed are some of the features that will be available on the Saleen Mustang SSC.

ENGINE

  • 302 CID MULTI-POINT FUEL INJECTED
  • SVO DESIGNED ROLLER TAPPET CAMSHAFT
  • SALEEN EDITION INTAKE MANIFOLD
  • UNIQUE EEC IV PROCESSOR
  • CALIBRATED AIR FLOW SENSOR
  • FORD MOTORSPORT CAST ALUMINUM VALVE COVERS AND ACCESSORIES
  • WALKER DYNOMAX EXHAUST SYSTEM
  • PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENTS
  • 3:55:1 REAR END RATIO
  • SPECIAL DESIGN LIMITED SLIP DIFFERENTIAL
  • 16” X 8” ALUMINUM 5 SPOKE DP SPORT WHEELS
  • GENERAL XP2000Z TIRES P245/50 ZR16 – Rear
  • GENERAL XP2000Z TIRES P225/50 ZR16 – Front
  • Grooved BRAKE ROTORS
  • MONROE FORMULA GP 3-WAY COCKPIT ADJUSTABLE STRUTS AND SHOCKS

STYLING AND INTERIOR

  • CUSTOM LEATHER FLOFIT SEATS AND MATCHING DOOR PANELS
  • PIONEER STEREO SYSTEM WITH CD PLAYER, 120 WATTS, 4 CHANNELS, GRAPHIC EQUALIZER AND SIX SPEAKERS
  • SALEEN EDITION INTERIOR SUPPORT
  • “SSC” GRAPHICS AND EMBLEMS

THE PEPSI GRAND PRIX

ANAHEIM, CA., July 18,1988… Saleen Autosport brought the whole show to town for the Pepsi Grand Prix at Brainerd International Raceway, July 16 and 17. The three Saleen Mustangs were scheduled for a 3-hour event in the SCCA Escort Endurance Series on Saturday and the two Saleen Sportrucks for the Coors Racetruck on Sunday.

The weather was scorching, as was the competition. The #19 Saleen Mustang driven by Steve Saleen and, newcomer to the Saleen team, Kees Nierop finished in third position just seconds out of the lead. The #20 Saleen was only moments behind in fourth place, expertly handled by Lisa Caceres and Desire’ Wilson. The #21 car suffered very early brake problems that caused the car to finish laps down. Rick Titus and David Hellweg, in his very first professional race, drove a very demanding skillful race to bring their Saleen back through the pack.

The Saleen Ford Ranger Sportrucks had a very difficult race the following day but with consistent finishes this year, Steve Saleen is only 13 points out of the Driver’s Championship Title.

Aside from racing, the weekend also included a Saleen Autosport hosted Mustang Corral attended and supported by the Upper Midwest Region Shelby American Automobile Club. Autograph sessions and give-a-ways were highlights for the Club.

The Northland Ford Dealer Association also gathered for the weekend utilizing Saleen Autosport display racing vehicles. Over 500 dealers from the area joined with other Ford enthusiasts to support the General Tire/Ford sponsored race team.

Lime Rock, Connecticut is the next host for the Coors Racetruck Challenge August 6 and Mosport Park near Toronto, Canada will be the next venue for the Saleen Mustangs in a 24-hour race on August 13 and 14.

PORTLAND TO POTHOLES

ANAHEIM, CA., July 11, 1988… The SCCA Escort Endurance Championship took the Saleen Mustangs to Portland International Raceway for the second race of the season on Saturday, June 11.

The driver line-up included Steve Saleen and Pete Halsmer in the #19; Lisa Caceres and Desire’ Wilson in #20; and Rick Titus and Calvin Fish in #21. The cars qualified in the same order in 4th, 5th and 6th position. After challenging for the lead, the #19 Saleen Mustang was soon sidelined with brake problems that could not be remedied in the pit stops. The #20 and #21 car suffered like problems, which cost the team valuable time off the track during the four-hour race. Finishing 3rd, 5th and 6th still keeps the team in a close battle for championship standings going into the next event at Brainerd, Minnesota, July 16.

Meanwhile, the Saleen Sportrucks were being prepared for another street race. This time over the potholes of Niagara Falls, New York on June 25. The #20 Ranger was driven by George Follmer and, remaining with the team for this event, Pete Halsmer took #21. Steve Saleen’s Ranger suffered through the weekend, but did make the inverted grid pole position with George and Pete side-by-side just two rows back.

On lap 2 of the 31-lap race, the forth-placed competitor in a Mitsubishi drove straight into a wall taking Halsmer and Follmer and three other trucks out of the race, due to a very close bump drafting style of the Racetruck Challenge. When the green flag fell again, Saleen had to ask his Ford Ranger for everything it had and more. Despite significant horsepower disparity, he finished second and was also awarded, for the second time this year, the Timex “Speedtrak Move of the Race”. This event is being televised on Sunday, July 17 on the TNN Network, “American Sports Cavalcade”. Look for the action!

HUNTING SEASON OPENS

BREA, CA., May 10, 1988... The “hunting season” opened for the SCCA Escort Endurance Championship and the Coors Racetruck Challenge on April 23, 1988 at Sears Point International Raceway. Saleen Autosport campaigned three Saleen Mustangs and three Saleen Sportrucks at the opener. After a very competitive start, the #19 Saleen Mustang was sidelined out of first place due to a faulty brake light, Steve Saleen and George Follmer in #19 finished only 25 seconds behind the leader with Desire’ Wilson and Lisa Caceres in #20 in third and Rick Titus and, newcomer to Endurance Racing, Calvin Fish in fourth.

“All three cars led the race at some point during the four hours and all three came back with no damage – a very successful weekend and a great start in the hunt for our second championship”, said Steve Saleen, Team Owner.

Rainy weather aside, the Saleen Autosport sponsored Mustang Corral had a great weekend as well. Classic Mustangs and Saleen Mustang owners from all over Northern California gathered at Sears Point for free prizes, which included a set of General Tires and an Escort Radar Detector provided by Cincinnati Microwave. The group also enjoyed their own parade lap around the racecourse on Saturday afternoon.

The Coors Racetruck Challenge began on Sunday afternoon with the #19 General Tire Ford Ranger driven by Steve Saleen, on the pole. George Follmer and Winston West star, Herschel McGriff drove the #20 and #21 Saleen Sportrucks. With a first lap, first turn crash amongst three trucks, the field bumped and crashed their way for 20 laps. Avoiding the crunch, Steve Saleen was awarded the “Timex Speedtrack Move of the Race Award” and finished fourth. Transmission problems put Follmer in the pits after 11 laps and Herschel McGriff fought a very tough battle to finish 12th.

The trucks move on to the Dallas Grand Prix and Riverside International Raceway right away. The cars will next be seen June 11th at Portland International Raceway for the Rose Cup Week.

SPONSOR LISTING 1988

FORD MOTOR COMPANY is “Racing into the Future” in 1988 with the Saleen Autosport team. The Saleen Mustangs and Ford Rangers will prove Ford’s performance, endurance and reliability standards in “head to head” competition with General Motors, Porsche, Nissan, BMW, Audis and others.

GENERAL TIRE is returning with the Championship winning “General Tire Performance Team” this year. Saleen Autosport will be their representative in the GT Class and Sportruck class. The Saleen Mustangs will be featuring the XP2000Z and the XP2000V will be choice for the Saleen Sportruck, demonstrating General’s new generation of high performance tires.

MONTGOMERY WARD is entering their second year of motorsports in 1988 to broaden their exposure of their “Auto Express Centers”. Their sponsorship includes the entire General Tire Performance Team in both the SCCA Endurance Series as well as the SCORE/HDRA Off-Road Series

HUNTER ENGINEERING is also returning in 1988 to motorsports promotion. Their support of the Performance Team will help to highlight their quality alignment and balancing equipment, which is also used in the production of the Saleen Mustang and Sportruck street models.

MONROE FORMULA GP SHOCKS AND STRUTS are engineered with individually selected valve components for precision control. Gas-charged Formula GP shocks feature polyurethane bushings for a firmer ride with more control, adding up to a winning performance for the Saleen Mustang and Saleen Sportruck on the track and street.

GNB/CHAMPION BATTERIES are planning a big year with the Performance Team with their new line of quality products for performance vehicles.

WALKER DYNOMAX MUFFLERS significantly reduce exhaust backpressure, which increases flow and horsepower. The Super Turbo and Turbo Tube mufflers help the Saleen Mustang and Saleen Sportruck achieve optimum engine output for championship performance again in 1988.

CHAMPION SPARK PLUG COMPANY is joining Saleen Autosport in their efforts to put the Saleen Mustang and Sportrucks in the Winner’s Circle. As a long-standing supporter of motorsports, Champion and their affiliate, Anco Wiper Blades will make the difference.

MUSTANG TIMES is the Mustang Club of America’s monthly magazine. Its purpose is to report on all aspects of the Mustang hobbies, both past and present. The Mustang Times staff members are enthusiastic supporters of Saleen Autosport’s racing efforts and have signed on as official sponsors for 1988.