All posts by Jim Dvorak

Managing Director of SOEC since 2005. Veteran of the Southern California automotive scene. Involvement with Saleen dates back to the mid 1990s.

EXIDE TECHNOLOGIES NAMED EXCLUSIVE BATTERY SUPPLIER FOR SALEEN S7

EXIDE SELECT ORBITAL THE BATTERY OF CHOICE FOR AMERICAN SUPERCAR

PRINCETON, N.J., June 15 /PRNewswire/ — Exide Technologies (NYSE: EX), the global leader in stored electrical energy solutions, has signed an agreement to supply Exide Select Orbital(R) batteries to Saleen, Inc. Based in Irvine, California, Saleen specializes in the manufacture of high-performance vehicles for street and track; produces and markets a broad line of performance parts; and provides design, engineering and certification services. As a battery supplier to Saleen, Exide Technologies will provide the original-equipment batteries for all Saleen S7 street and racing vehicles.

The agreement calls for Exide Technologies to supply the Exide Select Orbital(R) — the world’s only original-equipment approved spiral-wound lead-acid battery — for use in Saleen’s top-of-the-line vehicles, including the Saleen S7, an American supercar, and the Saleen S7R, the racing version of the S7. Further, Exide Technologies will be an associate sponsor of the Saleen/Allen Speedlab race team starting with the prestigious 24 Hours of LeMans event on June 16 and 17. And Saleen will specify the Exide Select Orbital(R) as the preferred replacement battery for all Saleen S7 vehicles.

Saleen offers a full line of consumer vehicles as well as a wide array of parts and accessories designed for improving performance. Saleen’s S281 naturally-aspirated and supercharged models, available as coupes, convertibles or speedsters; the XP8 Performance Utility Vehicle; and the race-bred SR coupe are mainstays of the company’s high-performance vehicle line.

The crown jewel of Saleen’s vehicle lineup is the 2001 S7 supercar, one of the most exotic supercars in the world, capable of speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour, with a zero-to-60 time of under four seconds. The Saleen S7 redefines high-tech and modern racing technology with its 7-liter V-8 engine, advanced suspension system and aerodynamic design.

“We chose the Exide Select Orbital(R) because it is the only spiral-wound, sealed, absorbed glass mat lead-acid battery that has withstood the rigors required for original-equipment certification,” said Steve Saleen, Founder and President of Saleen. “In addition, Exide Technologies supports its products with a high-quality global service network.”

The Exide Select Orbital(R) features a highly efficient design and construction of tightly wound plates that provide unparalleled power among conventional automotive batteries. It holds its charge longer — and has a shelf life three times longer — than conventional batteries. The battery can be recharged in a fraction of the time, has greater power output and resists vibration better than any other lead-acid battery. Because the Exide Select Orbital(R) is completely sealed, it eliminates leaks and spills. It is extremely resistant to vibration, heat and cold and offers greater safety because it contains no free liquid electrolyte and does not produce gas.

“The Saleen signature on a vehicle signifies the state-of-the-art in design, performance, engineering and manufacturing,” said Craig Muhlhauser, President and Chief Operating Officer of Exide Technologies. “The Exide Select Orbital(R) is the only spiral-wound, sealed, absorbed glass mat lead-acid battery in the world that can meet these exacting, high-performance criteria for the Saleen vehicle line.”

Note:
Exide Technologies is the global leader in providing electrical energy storage solutions. The company has operations in 89 countries, serving the industrial and transportation markets.

Industrial applications include network-power batteries for telecommunications systems, fuel-cell load leveling, electric utilities, railroads, photovoltaic (solar-power related) and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) markets; and motive-power batteries for a broad range of equipment uses, including lift trucks, mining vehicles and commercial vehicles.

Transportation uses include automotive, heavy-duty truck, agricultural, marine and other batteries, as well as new technologies being developed for hybrid vehicles and new 42-volt automotive applications. The company supplies both aftermarket and original-equipment transportation customers.

Further information about Exide Technologies, its financial results and other information can be found at www.exide.com .

Media contact: Tim Yost, 734-827-3282; tyost@exideworld.com
Investor contact: Thomas J. Smith, 609-919-4946, tsmith@exideworld.com.

Certain statements in this press release may constitute forward-looking statements as defined by the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. As such, they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results of the company to be materially different from any results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These are enumerated in further detail in the company’s Form 10-K.

MEDIA CONTACTS at LeMans:
Frederic Guyonneau for Exide: 678-361-7321
Jack Gerkin for Saleen: 714-814-9901

MEDIA CONTACTS in U.S.:
James Chew for Exide: 610-698-4458
Tim Yost for Exide: 734-827-3282

INVESTOR CONTACT:
Thomas J. Smith for Exide: 609-919-4946

[SOURCE: Exide Technologies]

FELLOWS PRAISES PIT CREW

By: N.A. on May 29, 2001
Original Article: TORONTO STAR (CANADA)

The Saleens were faster in the pre-qualifying session for next month’s 24 Hours of LeMans. But when it comes to the famed twice-around-the-clock race, Ron Fellows is confident his pit crew will carry the day for Corvette Racing.

“We were a couple of seconds faster than we were last year,” said Fellows, who will be honoured on June 7 as Mississauga’s athlete of the year. “But the Saleens were two seconds faster than us.”

“I’m not that worried, though. I think the Corvette is a faster car. And in the race we’ll have a far superior race team. At (the 12 Hours of) Sebring I think we would have been faster than the Saleens if it were not for the starter motor problems. We were 10 seconds faster than them in our pit stops and that’s a huge edge.”

Fellows will share the wheel with Johnny O’Connell and Scott Pruett. Pruett, a former CART driver who had an ill-fated, one-year run in NASCAR’s Winston Cup series last season, replaces Chris Kneifel, who retired as an active driver to become CART’s chief steward.

ASARO THIRD:
Unionville’s Billy Asaro, who won three consecutive U.S. Formula 2000 series races, settled for a third-place finish in Sunday’s rain-delayed “Night Before The Indy” event at Indianapolis Raceway Park, not to be confused with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Asaro, who qualified seventh, managed to work his way up to third place and a spot on the podium for the fourth consecutive race, but was unable to catch Mexico’s Piero Rodate, who took his first checkered flag. Tommy Constantine of Greece was second.

BURTON CONFIDENT:
“I don’t want to sound facetious or cocky, but it felt normal,” NASCAR driver Jeff Burton said after Sunday’s win in the Coca-Cola 600. “Winning is what Roush Racing is all about.” Burton’s teammates Mark Martin and Kurt Busch were fourth and 12th respectively in the race.

TRIPLE HEADER?
When asked about second-place 600 finisher Kevin Harvick’s tongue-in-cheek plan to run 1,400 miles next Memorial Day weekend (the Grand National race at the speedway Saturday, then the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday), Tony Stewart said Harvick was fit enough to do so. “They just need to keep him out of bars,” Stewart quipped.

INDY FOLLOW-UP:
When Team Penske duo Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran finished 1-2 in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 it marked only the third time teammates have crossed the finish line in that order. The last time was in 1999 when Arie Luwendyk won and Treadway Racing teammate Scott Goodyear, the Toronto native, was second. . . . Castroneves’ victory, following last year’s win by Juan Montoya, marked only the second time in race history that rookies have won in back-to-back years. . . . Scott Sharp was the fifth pole-sitter to finish last. Greg Ray ended up last a year ago after taking the pole. . . . Sharp was only the second pole-sitter not to complete even a lap of the race. The other was Roberto Guerrero. . . . Michael Andretti, who finished third but led briefly, became the only driver to lead the 500 in three different decades.

NEXT FOR CART:
Helio Castroneves and the five other CART drivers who raced in the Indy 500 return to the CART series this weekend with Sunday’s event at the Milwaukee Mile.

NASCAR TOPS:
NASCAR dominated a new ESPN poll measuring fan response to the favourite type of auto racing in the U.S.A. NASCAR won 55 per cent of votes while drag racing, with 12.2 per cent, outdistanced both open wheel (CART – 9.1 per cent) and F1 (3.9 per cent). Drag racing makes its only Canadian national event stop this weekend when the International Hot Rod Association tour visits the Grand Bend Motorplex. More than 30,000 attended the three-day event’s Canadian debut last June.

FELLOWS HOPES CORVETTE TAKES REVENGE AT LE MANS

By: N.A. on March 20, 2001
Original Article: TORONTO STAR (CANADA)

Ron Fellows wants another shot at the competition he calls “the thing” and this time with a healthy Corvette C5-R.

But he’ll have to wait until June 16-17 when he crosses the pond to France for the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The “thing” is the U.S.-funded, British-built Saleen S7R, a newcomer to the American Le Mans series, which will also contest the event, after which the U.S. series run by Don Panoz is named.

The Saleen beat the Corvettes for the first time this season in the 12 Hours of Sebring (Fla.) to capture the GTS class. A prototype Audi won the overall race.

While he concedes that the Saleen is “pretty fast,” Fellows doesn’t believe it belongs in the GTS class.

“But it’s there and so we have to figure out a way to beat it,” said the Mississauga native. “There’s nothing like a challenge.”

Fellows attempt to beat the Saleen at Sebring was hampered by a faulty starter motor which had to be changed twice during the race and cost the team 10 laps.

Fellows knows both he and the second Corvette, which finished second in the class at Sebring while Fellows was third, will have their work cut out for them at Le Mans.

“It’ll have a big advantage at Le Mans because it’s narrower and lower and it’s a proper race car,” he said. “It looks a lot like the Porsche GT1. It sure looked like it in my rearview mirror and following it, too.”

CYCLING FATALITY:
The auto racing world is mourning the death of champion driver Bob Wollek who was killed when he was struck while riding his bicycle near Sebring International Raceway last Friday.

He was in Sebring for the 24-hour endurance race on Saturday, which he won in 1985.

The 57-year-old native of Strasbourg, France, won the 24 Hours of Daytona four times and two class wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Last year, he won five American Le Mans Series events.

Wollek was riding his bike near the track late in the afternoon when he was hit from behind by a car. The accident is still under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.

RETIREMENT SUPPORTED:
Readers of the U.S. racing publication AutoWeek 69 per cent in favour of NASCAR breaking with tradition and retiring the No. 3 of legendary Winston Cup driver Dale Earnhardt, who was killed in a crash during last month’s Daytona 500.

Even many among the 31 per cent opposed to retiring the number expressed the view that removing the number from view on the track would cause people to eventually forget Earnhardt’s contributions.

SUPER SUB:
Oakville’s Kenny Wilden, substituting for injured American driver Leighton Reese, finished a strong third in Trans-Am Series 100, a support event of the 12 Hours of Sebring, this past weekend.

Wilden, driving the Banner Engineering Chevrolet Corvette, passed Johnny Miller’s Jaguar XKR on lap 26 to gain a spot on the podium behind winner Boris Said and runner-up Paul Gentilozzi.

CART GRADS:
Brazilian Tarso Marques, whose top finish in 17 CART races last year for Gerald Forsythe Racing was seventh in the final race of the 2000 season on the California Speedway super oval, finished 14th in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Two former CART champions, Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Montoya, both failed to finish the race.

SALEEN S7 SUPERCAR TO USE NEWTECH’S HIGH-PERFORMANCE BRAKE SYSTEM AS ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT

DETROIT, March 6 /PRNewswire/ — NewTech Group International today announced that its revolutionary new full-contact brake system will be installed as original equipment on the 2002 Saleen S7 supercar, making Saleen, Inc. the brake company’s first OE customer. The system will also be available as an option on the high-performance 2002 special edition Saleen Mustangs (S281 and SR). The announcement was made at the 2001 SAE World Congress in Detroit.

The full-contact brake system, fully developed by NewTech and its French affiliates, is composed of sensors and an Intelligent Braking System (IBS) and a radically different single, circular pad that distributes pressure over the full 360-degree surface of the disc. Compared to conventional brakes that use pads to apply pressure to only a small percentage of the disc, the NewTech brake is much higher performing, virtually fade-free, costs less to install and produce and is much more durable. NewTech’s technology can even enable the automotive industry to offer lifetime warranties on the product.

Under the agreement, Saleen will handle the certification process by conducting an extensive road-testing program. NewTech, meanwhile, will continue to develop its braking system to meet the needs of its customers, to whom it sells the system under licensing agreement.

The 200+ mph Saleen S7 is the first true American supercar, a category that includes Ferrari and Lamborghini models. Saleen expects to build 400 S7 vehicles over the next four years.

More than 1,000 Saleen Mustangs were sold in 2000. The California-based manufacturer is aiming to boost its 2001 sales by 20%.

NewTech/Saleen

About NewTech:
NewTech Group International is an independent Quebec-based company offering a full range of research and development, design and full-contact brakes to the automotive and heavy truck industries. NewTech’s mission is to develop the best brake system in the world.

To this end, the company has hired 50 of the top researchers and engineers from Europe, Asia and North America. Including technicians, communication personnel and administrators, NewTech employs about 120 full-time staff.

About Saleen, Inc.
Saleen, Inc. was founded by Steve Saleen in 1983. The company, which recently marked its 18th year of operation, specializes in designing and producing high-performance sports cars. Saleen is the largest American manufacturer of specialty cars. The company’s goal is to build the highest-performing cars, at the most competitive price, in its category.

The Saleen partnership is the first automobile original equipment supply contract that NewTech has signed with a car manufacturer, and second with a vehicle manufacturer. Four months ago, NewTech signed a deal to supply Renault’s truck division with a brake system adapted to its Class 8 heavy-duty vehicles.

SOURCE: NewTech Group International

ENGINEERING AN AMERICAN SUPERCAR

By: AMY HIGGINS on March 1, 2001
Original Article: MACHINE DESIGN, VOL. 73, ISSUE 5

A space-age chassis and an engine fit for both racing and street cruising take Saleen’s “supercar” to new levels.

Zero to 60 in under 4 sec. A top speed North of 200 mph. Ground effects that would let the car cruise at 160 mph — upside down. Suffice it to say, the new S7 super car from specialty carmaker Saleen Inc., Irvine, Calif., would surely blow the doors off Herbie. Throw in sleek lines, smooth curves, and Delorean-style doors, and you’ve got one fine-looking ride that gives “supercar” a new meaning.

Incredibly, Saleen’s new beauty was designed, engineered, manufactured, and ready for delivery in just 18 months. But development wasn’t a one-man gig. Saleen worked closely with OEMs from around the globe including Italian brake manufacturer Brembo, British racing house, Ray Mallock Ltd. (RML), and a host of other specialty suppliers.

“Niche manufacturing is about using the best available from the world’s high-quality suppliers,” explains Steve Saleen, president and founder of Saleen Inc., “It’s a nontraditional way to build a car, but for small-volume manufacturing, it’s the most effective and efficient method to bring a quality car to market with minimal cost.”

In designing the supercar, the objective was straightforward: Design a vehicle that could easily compete with the fastest, most luxurious, and best-handling grand touring cars in the world, yet comfortably tool around on highways, autobahns, or country roads. The first step–a chassis and suspension fit for racing and street cruising.

Space-age chassis
Saleen tapped RML’s expertise in designing and engineering the S7’s futuristic chassis, suspension system, and overall look. RML built the preproduction chassis and body in Wellingborough, England, while the final prototype was assembled at Saleen’s plant in Irvine, Calif.

A lightweight steel, space-frame chassis is reinforced with a honeycomb-composite-carbon fiber that cuts weight but adds stiffness. Fully independent unequal-length “A” arms and lightweight aluminum dampers with coilover springs make up the basic suspension. Special CNC-machined aluminum uprights with a spider weblike structure direct cooling air to the brakes and wheel bearings.

Other components include specially tuned Brembo-supplied aluminum brakes: six-piston, 15-in. ventilated discs on the front, and 14-in. in the rear. Center hub-mounted wheels are shod with Pirelli P-Zero Rossa tires, size 275×30-19 upfront and 355×25-19 in back.

The S7 has a relatively large footprint with a 106-in. wheelbase and 68.75-in. front track. According to Saleen, the car’s presence is “amazing.” It stretches to 188 in. long and just over 78 in. wide. In true sportscar fashion, the S7 rides low, its body perched just 4 in. above the ground. At 41 in. high, it sits 3 in. lower than a Lamborghini Diablo, and at 2,750 lb, weighs 650 lb less. “We wanted a ‘form-follows-function’ look, but also one that was beautiful,” says Saleen. “I’d say we succeeded.”

Engineers also made safety a high priority. For starters, the S7 fuel tank sits at chassis center. This reduces changes to the car’s handling with fuel load, and improves overall packaging, says Saleen. A front-suspension antiroll bar, carbon-fiber rocker panels and doors, and three-point seat belts with automatic pretensioners add to the mix. Aluminum honeycomb panels add strength to the steel chassis and absorb impact. The same material makes up the front crush structure and rear crumple zones.

Built for speed
Powering the supercar is a 7-liter (427 in.3), normally aspirated, aluminum V-8 that generates 550 hp at 6,400 rpm and 520 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Torque transfers to the rear wheels through a new-generation, six-speed transaxle.

Interestingly, the huge powerplant is just slightly over-square in that the stroke length is actually shorter than the bore size. Over-square engines are typically used in racing because they develop more power at higher rpm. On the other hand, they tend to lack torque at lower speed, which makes them less suitable for cruising down the highway. The S7 spans both worlds with a 4.125-in. bore and 4-in. stroke.

Though the S7 engine block is cast according to a traditional Ford design, Saleen completely reengineered it 8 in. shorter than the original block. A compact front engine accessory drive system with a side-mounted water pump streamlines the engine and helps distribute weight.

Further improving weight distribution and CG is a midchassis-mounted engine. This arrangement also allows for an especially tall “true” downdraft induction system. Here, air flows through a carbon-fiber air box leading to a magnesium throttle body and intake manifolds. Fuel feeds through matched trumpets in a straight shot to the intake ports.

The use of space-age materials makes engine components lighter and more reliable. Take the high-strength piston rods, for example. They are forged from a new EN40B billet steel. Beryllium exhaust valve seats effectively transfer heat away from the all-aluminum, CNC-machined cylinder heads. Stainless-steel valves and titanium retainers toughen the valve train. And a specially designed crankshaft is crafted from 4340 forged billet steel.

Yet another performance feature is Saleen’s dry-pump, oil-delivery system. The system cuts power-robbing viscous friction, improves ground clearance, and thwarts oil starvation in hard cornering. Innovation doesn’t end there. The S7’s huge muffler has a twofold purpose: It cuts noise and acts as part of the rear impact crumple zone. Surprisingly, the supercar meets all federal and California emission-control standards as a transitional low-emissions vehicle.

A true drag diffuser
Advantages gained in the wind tunnel are priceless, something not lost on S7 designers. They spent considerable time at Scotland’s University of Glasgow wind-tunnel facilities refining drag-to-lift ratio, center of gravity, drag coefficient, and downforce. With the S7, what you see is not all you get. Full underside body sculpting helps cut underbody turbulence and boost overall stability at high speeds.

Gills and fascia openings add to the S7’s exotic beauty while serving a functional purpose. For example, side scoops let air move through the vehicle to cool the transmission while split radiators exhaust under and to the sides of the car to produce downforce. A roof intake system supplies additional air to the engine, while a nose scoop helps ventilate the cabin.

Moving inside, creature comforts are as impressive as the exterior. Connolly leather upholstered seats and surfaces, air-conditioning, adjustable pedals, and a six-disc CD player are just a few of the features.

Tall drivers might find the S7 incredibly considerate to their plight with the removable steering wheel for easier entry, as well as an asymmetrical cockpit. Here, drivers sit more toward the center of the cabin than passengers, improving both visibility and weight distribution.

The supercar also sports a special, live-video rear-view “mirror” that uses a video camera concealed in the rear of the car and an LCD mounted where a traditional rearview mirror would sit. Analog gauges and a center-mounted tachometer are highlighted with brushed aluminum and body-color accents adding to the S7’s elegance.

Car enthusiasts lucky enough to get their hands on a 2001 Saleen S7 will pay handsomely. The supercar retails for $385,000. However, all hope is not lost for those with less dough. Saleen says it will build a less-expensive, higher-volume model to meet its goal of selling 300 to 400 cars worldwide through the S7’s four-year production run.

SALEEN SPEEDS AHEAD ON S7 PROJECT

By: AMY WILSON on December 11, 2000
Original Article: AUTOMOTIVE NEWS, VOL. 75, ISSUE 5907

Steve Saleen is a speed merchant.

Until now his primary business has been to supply Ford dealers with something they couldn’t get from the factory — a high-performance car that’s capable of going toe to toe with sports cars such as the Chevrolet Cor- vette. This year Saleen Inc. expects to sell more than 1,000 copies of the S281, a modified version of the Ford Mustang, at an average price of about $41,000.

Now Saleen, with the financial backing of partner Tony Johnson of Hidden Creek Industries, has set his sights on producing a limited-volume, high-performance supercar — the Saleen S7.

The step puts Saleen in company with another noted automotive industry figure, former Chrysler Corp. executive Robert Lutz and his plan to produce a powerful touring car under the auspices of Cunningham Motor Co.

Different routes
But while Saleen and Lutz have much the same dream — to build a small number of unique, high-priced vehicles — their business plans are different.

Lutz, president of battery supplier Exide Corp., envisions a virtual car company where engineering, manufacturing and assembly would be outsourced to a major supplier such as a Visteon or Delphi. The Lutz-Cunningham group aims to have a driveable prototype by mid-2001.

The fruits of his project, however, likely would not compete directly against the Saleen S7. The Cunningham car would be a 2+2 grand touring car with a 550-hp V-12 engine. Capable of speeds of more than 200 mph, that vehicle would cost more than $200,000. Saleen and his boutique firm plan to launch a performance-oriented supercar engineered, sourced and assembled almost completely under the auspices of the Saleen organization.

That greater oversight on the Saleen project is necessary to ensure high-speed performance and a car that leaves the production line ready for the racetrack, said Saleen, founder and president of Saleen Inc., a company that made its name tuning high-performance Ford Mustangs.

Pricey performance
The Saleen S7 — a 555-hp supercar with a price tag of $385,000 — is set to begin shipping to customers next June.

Already, nine people have made $100,000 deposits. Saleen still has to get the vehicle through government certification; at least two of the supercars will be crash-tested in the process.

Saleen plans to build 100 of the cars a year for the next four years, though the program’s break-even point will come with the sale of 80 to 100 vehicles, Saleen said.

The S7 project has the backing of Johnson, head of Hidden Creek Industries, a $6.5 billion enterprise with interests in major automotive suppliers, including:

  • Dura Automotive Systems Inc., a maker of controls such as gear shifts with sales to North American automakers of $1.25 billion last year, ranking it No. 35 on the Automotive News list of top 150 suppliers.
  • Tower Automotive Inc., a maker of suspension components and truck frames with sales to North American automakers of $2.04 billion last year, ranking it No. 19 on the top 150 list.

Those companies have little involvement in the S7 project, though Saleen certainly uses such suppliers for its custom vehicles.

Saleen COO Don Cuzzocrea said: “We manufacture either all of our own parts ourselves or they’re custom built for us by well-known Tier 1 suppliers. But anything we get is a proprietary design.”

The S7’s 7.0-liter V-8 engine is based on a Ford-cast all-aluminum engine block re-engineered by Saleen. British racing house Ray Mallock Ltd. assisted with the design and build of the space-frame chassis and packaging of the suspension system. Saleen also procured brakes from Italian maker Brembo and numerous high-tech pieces from companies in the Midlands area of England. Dura Automotive is supplying Saleen-specified foot pedals. Though a few commodity mechanisms — pieces such as levers and latches — are on the S7, virtually every part involved in driving the car or visible to the driver was designed and/or produced by Saleen, the company’s president said.

Saleen officials intend to position the S7 against pricier vehicles. Among them: the McLaren F1, the Porsche GT1 and the Jaguar 220, all of which retail for more than $1 million.

Saleen S7
Manufacturer: Saleen Inc., Irvine, Calif.
Engine: 555-hp, 7.0-liter V-8 based on a Ford block
Speed: 200-plus mph
Planned production: 400 cars
Price: $385,000

IRVINE, CALIF., AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURER HOPES TO ENTER LUXURY CAR MARKET

By: CHRIS KNAP on Aug 20, 2000
Original Article: ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, THE (SANTA ANA, CA)

Aug. 20–Specialty-vehicle builder Steve Saleen will expand his business next year with the production of a $375,000 supercar intended to challenge Ferrari, Lamborghini and Jaguar.

Saleen was to unveil the prototype of the Saleen S7 at the Monterey Historic Races Saturday.

He eventually hopes to build 100 of the 550-horsepower road rockets each year at a new factory in Irvine.

“Part of the American dream for every kid is to build your own car. I’m fortunate in that I’m in a position to realize that dream,” Saleen said in an interview.

Some might call him a tuner, but Saleen prefers the term manufacturer. In the past 17 years, he has built more than 7,000 high-performance Mustangs. He does this by stripping factory-fresh cars and reconstructing them with bigger brakes, more powerful engines and race suspensions, among other improvements. The Saleen Mustangs sell for $33,000 to $75,000.

The S7 is a quantum leap forward.

The car will be based on a Saleen-built chassis with a body built of carbon fiber, an aerospace material similar to, but many times stronger than, fiberglass.

The engine will be a 7.0-liter aluminum V-8 mounted behind the driver mid-engine in sports-car parlance. The car will feature leather on every interior surface and a built-in camera and video screen for better rear vision.

“We are basically building our own car from the ground up,” Saleen said. Building your own supercar is a risky and expensive venture, a lesson many automotive entrepreneurs have learned the hard way.

Gerry Wiegert, builder of the much-heralded 600-horsepower Vector sports car, ran out of capital in the 1980s after building fewer than 15 cars.

Even Carroll Shelby, who built the legendary Cobra sports cars of the 1960s, has run into trouble with his latest project, an Oldsmobile V8-powered supercar called the Shelby Series 1.

After taking deposits from dozens of buyers, Shelby had to tell them the car would be months later than expected and cost $25,000 more than first promised. Saleen has one asset these other builders didn’t have: a substantial line of capital from his silent partner, auto-parts millionaire Tony Johnson, who is the chairman of Dura Automotive Systems and Hidden Creek Industries of Minneapolis. “Saleen certainly has the financing behind him to make this project happen,” said Gordon Wangers, managing partner of Automotive Marketing Consultants Inc. of Vista.

“With the strength of the automotive market and the enthusiast market, they might have a chance of doing it. “But at $375,000, it better be a true supercar.”

Saleen promises it will be. With a weight estimated at 2,700 pounds, Saleen promises that the car will accelerate to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds and complete a quarter-mile in 11 seconds. The cars will be sold through the 75 Ford franchises already certified as Saleen dealers, plus 15 new exotic-car dealers that Saleen is recruiting. Saleen, whose 150 employees are headquartered in Irvine, plans to move to a larger factory by early next year.

SALEEN’S S7: A WORLD CLASS SUPERCAR WITH WORLD CLASS SUPPLIERS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Small Volume Manufacturer Pioneers New Methods

IRVINE, Calif. — The Saleen S7, unveiled at the 2000 Monterey Historic Races, is an American supercar. Like most things American, the S7 has its roots in other parts of the world, as the internationally known specialty vehicle manufacturer searched the world over for top components for its new vehicle.

“Niche manufacturing is about using the best available from the world’s high-quality suppliers,” said Steve Saleen, president and founder of Saleen, Inc. “It’s a non-traditional way to build a car, but for small-volume manufacturing it’s the most effective and efficient method to bring a quality car to market quickly and with minimal cost. And I can tell you the big car companies are watching us very closely.”

For example, the 2001 S7 utilizes world leading Brembo supplied brakes from Italy, a Ray Mallock, Ltd (RML) chassis, and numerous elements from suppliers in the Midlands area of the United Kingdom, a region that is to motorsports what the Silicon Valley is to the world of computers. Adding to the international flavor, the S7 was wind tunnel tested at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

“The S7 reflects a “best-in-practice” philosophy,” said Saleen. “We handpicked the top OEMs [Original Equipment Manufacturers] from around the globe to produce the best vehicle possible.”

Saleen selected RML to assist with engineering and design work for the Saleen S7, the first joint venture between the companies, because of their outstanding chassis and suspension reputation. The pre-production chassis and body were constructed at RML’s facilities in Wellingborough, England, while the final assembly of the prototype car took place at Saleen’s facility in Irvine, Calif. The two companies have entered into an agreement to work together on the development of cars for both street and race use.

“As we expand our product line, having the talents and expertise of RML available to augment our own design and engineering staff will create even better vehicles,” said Saleen. “The automotive world is rapidly evolving and Saleen is evolving to continue to offer enthusiasts and racing teams the ultimate in performance, technology and value.”

The Saleen S7 is certified for sale in both the United States and United Kingdom. Designed and built at Saleen’s Irvine, California manufacturing facility, the S7 is sold in the U.S. through select Saleen Certified Ford dealers and other newly added Saleen Certified dealers specializing in exotic automobiles. Vehicles for Europe and the Middle East will be produced at a satellite facility in conjunction with RML located in England. Worldwide volume is projected to be 300-400 cars over the estimated four-year production run. Work has begun on a less-expensive, higher volume model that will help achieve sales goals.

The Saleen S7 went on sale at its introduction at the famed Monterey Historic Races on August 19, 2000. First vehicles will be delivered to customers in the second quarter of 2001. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is $375,000.

The 2001 Saleen S7 is a proof of concept for what Saleen, Inc. has been building for 17 years. As a federally certified specialty vehicle manufacturer, Saleen has produced over 7000 vehicles – using and perfecting the efficient Niche Manufacturing process, which is now being studied and adopted by the world’s major automakers as they strive to quickly and economically bring small volume products to market.

Saleen, Inc. facilities include total research, design, engineering, and manufacturing capabilities. The company’s line also includes the Saleen S281 Mustang, Saleen XP8 Explorer, the SR Widebody, Saleen Performance Parts, and Saleen Engineering and Certification Service.

Contact:
Michael F. Hollander, Pacific Communications Group – 310.224.4981

S7 Release, S7 Chassis, S7 Engine, S7 Body and Design, S7 Features, S7 Manufacturing

SALEEN S7 FEATURES EVERY COMFORT FOR THE HIGH-PERFORMANCE DRIVER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Performance, Luxury, & Style Co-exist In S7 Interior

IRVINE, Calif. — The S7, built by Saleen, internationally known specialty vehicle manufacturer, features blinding performance, attention-grabbing exterior design, and space-age aerodynamics. That same flair is evident in the S7’s interior, mixing luxury with functionality in the driver-friendly cockpit.

From its plush Connolly leather covered interior surfaces, to adjustable pedals and a removable steering wheel, driver comfort is a priority of the S7. The movable pedals and detachable steering wheel make the S7 more suitable for taller drivers than other supercars, and allow for easier entry and exit from the vehicle.

In the asymmetrical cockpit, the driver’s seat is subtly moved toward the center of the cabin, enough to increase the driver’s position and visibility. This enhanced seat position contributes to an improved center of gravity and better weight distribution.

Weight distribution is also a factor in the storage compartments. With a mid-chassis engine location, the S7 features a trunk in the front and rear of the vehicle. The S7 comes equipped with custom-fit luggage for use on long trips.

The culmination of the interior sophistication is a unique video rearview “mirror,” utilizing a rear-mounted video camera and liquid crystal display (LCD) located where a traditional rearview mirror would be, near the top-center of the windshield. The powered side mirrors are mounted on pillars.

Traditional creature comforts included on the S7 are power windows and locks, as well as air conditioning. An AM/FM audio system with 6-disc CD player is standard. The instrument panel features easy-to-read analog gauges and center-mounted tachometer. Interior accents are brushed aluminum with body-color highlights.

The Saleen S7 is certified for sale in both the United States and United Kingdom. Designed and built at Saleen’s Irvine, California manufacturing facility, the S7 is sold in the U.S. through select Saleen Certified Ford dealers and other newly added Saleen Certified dealers specializing in exotic automobiles. Vehicles for Europe and the Middle East will be produced at a satellite facility in conjunction with RML located in England. Worldwide volume is projected to be 300-400 cars over the estimated four-year production run. Work has begun on a less-expensive, higher volume model that will help achieve sales goals.

The Saleen S7 went on sale at its introduction at the famed Monterey Historic Races on August 19, 2000. First vehicles will be delivered to customers in the second quarter of 2001. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is $375,000.

The 2001 Saleen S7 is a proof of concept for what Saleen, Inc. has been building for 17 years. As a federally certified specialty vehicle manufacturer, Saleen has produced over 7000 vehicles – using and perfecting the efficient Niche Manufacturing process, which is now being studied and adopted by the world’s major automakers as they strive to quickly and economically bring small volume products to market.

Saleen, Inc. facilities include total research, design, engineering, and manufacturing capabilities. The company’s line also includes the Saleen S281 Mustang, Saleen XP8 Explorer, the SR Widebody, Saleen Performance Parts, and Saleen Engineering and Certification Service.

Contact:
Michael F. Hollander, Pacific Communications Group – 310.224.4981

S7 Release, S7 Chassis, S7 Engine, S7 Body and Design, S7 Features, S7 Manufacturing

SALEEN S7 BLENDS BEAST AND BEAUTY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Slinky Shape Refined In Wind Tunnel

IRVINE, Calif. — There’s something about a supercar that’s different – sensuous lines, scoops and wings, an aerodynamic purposefulness that sets these cars apart. Supercar design traits must combine form and function in order to permit stable speeds in excess of 200 mph while also pleasing the eye. The all-new Saleen S7 meets both challenges.

Phil Frank, a long-time design consultant with Saleen, penned the S7’s body, using computer-aided drawing techniques. Saleen, Inc. and famed British racing house Ray Mallock, Ltd. used extensive work in a wind tunnel to add superior aerodynamics to the finished skin. The S7’s shape says “supercar” but the overall design is distinctive and not derivative of any other car.

The drag to lift ratio, center of gravity, co-efficient of drag and the downforce generated by the S7’s body were all considered as part of the refinements produced in the wind tunnel. Full underside aerodynamics help reduce turbulence below the body and improve overall stability at high speed. Traditional Saleen design signatures – like functional gills and fascia openings –provide cooling and are integrated to also provide superior airflow around, through and under the car. Example: Side scoops help cool the transmission while split radiators exhaust under the car and to the sides to create additional down force. The Saleen S7’s shape provides arguably the best overall aerodynamics of any production car ever built.

The team selected an autoclaved composite body over a space frame chassis with honeycomb reinforcement. By using the carbon-fiber composite, a significant weight reduction was possible while providing increased strength over steel.

“The carbon fiber body is so beautiful, we hated to paint it,” said Steve Saleen. “But the BASF paint we’ve selected provides smoothness and a beauty of its own.”

The body houses trunks front and rear and provides through the rear window a unique view of the engine – a feature mandated from the beginning to help define the S7’s supercar status. Steve Saleen describes it as, “American V8 under glass!”

The S7’s doors open up and away from the body, another distinctive feature designed into the car as part of its supercar pedigree. A unique and functional roof intake system feeds air to the engine, while a nose scoop supplies high volume flow-through cabin ventilation.

Electrically controlled side mirrors extend on pillars to provide optimum utility. Covered projector beam headlights meet worldwide regulations.

The Saleen S7 is certified for sale in both the United States and United Kingdom. Designed and built at Saleen’s Irvine, California manufacturing facility, the S7 is sold in the U.S. through select Saleen Certified Ford dealers and other newly added Saleen Certified dealers specializing in exotic automobiles. Vehicles for Europe and the Middle East will be produced at a satellite facility in conjunction with RML located in England. Worldwide volume is projected to be 300-400 cars over the estimated four-year production run. Work has begun on a less-expensive, higher volume model that will help achieve sales goals.

The Saleen S7 went on sale at its introduction at the famed Monterey Historic Races on August 19, 2000. First vehicles will be delivered to customers in the second quarter of 2001. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is $375,000.

The 2001 Saleen S7 is a proof of concept for what Saleen, Inc. has been building for 17 years. As a federally certified specialty vehicle manufacturer, Saleen has produced over 7000 vehicles – using and perfecting the efficient Niche Manufacturing process, which is now being studied and adopted by the world’s major automakers as they strive to quickly and economically bring small volume products to market.

Saleen, Inc. facilities include total research, design, engineering, and manufacturing capabilities. The company’s line also includes the Saleen S281 Mustang, Saleen XP8 Explorer, the SR Widebody, Saleen Performance Parts, and Saleen Engineering and Certification Service.

Contact:
Michael F. Hollander, Pacific Communications Group – 310.224.4981

S7 Release, S7 Chassis, S7 Engine, S7 Body and Design, S7 Features, S7 Manufacturing