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.

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

SALEEN S7’S DRIVETRAIN PUSHES TECHNOLOGY ENVELOPE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Aerospace Materials And Advanced Engineering Used Extensively

IRVINE, Calif. — The Saleen S7’s 7-liter engine is a technical tour de force, producing 550 horsepower at 6400 rpm. Based on a Ford form factor, the Saleen-massaged all-aluminum V-8 follows traditional American cam-in-block design to produce significant horsepower and torque with high reliability. The engine generates 520 foot-pounds of torque at 4000 rpm, transferred to the rear wheels through a new generation six-speed transaxle.

Although the casting is based on a traditional Ford design, it was completely re-engineered by Saleen to be eight inches shorter than the block on which it was based. This Front Engine Accessory Drive (FEAD) system permits the use of a Saleen-designed, side-mounted water pump to help improve weight distribution and packaging.

Air flows into the engine through a carbon fiber induction system leading to a magnesium throttle body and intake manifolds. Induction is through a true downdraft port fuel injection system directly to the intake ports. Intake trumpets are matched to each cylinder.

The S7 engine uses materials and engineering from aerospace to reduce weight and improve reliability. The all-aluminum Saleen cylinder heads are created using Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) lathes. Beryllium exhaust valve seats allow more efficiency by transferring heat away from the cylinders. Stainless steel valves and titanium retainers are used for durability. Forged pistons reduce reciprocating weight while providing improved strength. Piston rods are made of the latest material, EN40B billet steel. Saleen designed its own crankshaft for the S7, using 4340 forged billet steel.

A Saleen dry sump oil delivery system ensures reduced friction while providing enhanced lubrication to the reciprocating parts. This allows for improved ground clearance and more importantly, in hard or sustained cornering, prevents oil starvation.

Engine placement in the S7 was a consideration as part of the complete engine design process. The mid-engine placement allows the engine to be tall. This design also provides advantageous placement for the induction and exhaust plenums. The camshaft is belt driven to provide more accurate valve placement and reduce noise compared to a chain drive.

The S7’s Saleen-designed muffler is enormous, reducing unwanted noise, and acting as part of the rear impact crumple zone. The exhaust exits through catalytic converters, as the S7 engine is designed to meet all Federal and California emission-control standards as a transitional low-emissions vehicle (TLEV). A Ford EEC V engine management system with direct ignition and OPD II helps the S7 meet the requirements.

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 CHASSIS RACE-BRED FOR ULTIMATE ROAD PERFORMANCE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

2001 S7 Mixes Sophisticated Materials And Track Proven Technology

IRVINE, Calif. — Saleen, Inc., internationally known specialty vehicle manufacturer and racecar builder, has created the first true American supercar with the launch of the 2001 S7. The S7 is designed to compete with the most exclusive high performance cars in the world, while providing a distinctly American driving experience. Top speed, quickness, and racecar handling are combined with luxury and everyday road dynamics.

The S7 chassis and suspension is the result of Saleen’s years of racetrack and racecar experience. As part of their industry leading Niche Manufacturing process, which uses best-in-practice original equipment (O.E). support from around the world, famed British racing house Ray Mallock, Ltd. (RML), was enlisted to assist in developing the S7’s advanced chassis, suspension system and overall packaging.

The S7 architecture begins with a space frame chassis to which honeycomb composite reinforcing is grafted. Suspension is fully independent unequal length “A” arms. Distinctive CNC machined billet aluminum spider web-like uprights allow airflow to brakes and wheel bearings, which facilitates cooling and increases durability. Lightweight aluminum dampers with coil over springs are used on all four corners.

With a 106-inch wheelbase and 68.75-inch front track, the S7 has a relatively big footprint. This works to enhance stability. Overall the Saleen S7 is 188 inches long and 78.3 inches wide. The car is only 41 inches high, three inches lower than a Lamborghini Diablo, and tips the scales at about 2750 pounds, again besting the Diablo by 650 pounds.

Brakes are Saleen engineered/Brembo-supplied with 6-piston 15-inch ventilated discs in front and 14-inch for the rear. Wheels are center hub-mounted units specially engineered for the S7. The car is fitted with Pirelli P-Zero Rossa tires, with fronts being 275×30-19 and the rears 355×25-19.

The S7 fuel tank is in the center of the car, which allows for better overall packaging, increased safety and less handling deviation between full and light fuel loads.

In designing the S7, Saleen put drivability on a wide variety of road surfaces high on the list of objectives. And, while the S7 would be at home on any racetrack, it is also a car that can be driven with pleasure on highways, autobahns and back roads. The Saleen S7 hit its engineering target of providing best-in-class performance with great driving pleasure.

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 BRINGS SUPERCAR CROWN TO AMERICA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

2001 Model Takes On Most Exclusive Cars In The World

IRVINE, Calif. — Saleen, Inc., a specialty vehicle manufacturer for 17 years, has created the first true American supercar with the launch of the Saleen S7. The S7 is designed to compete with the fastest, quickest, best handling, most luxurious grand touring cars in the world, while providing a distinctly American driving experience for the fortunate few who will own one.

Designed, engineered, certified, manufactured and marketed by Saleen, the S7 was conceived to combine the performance of a track-only racecar with the driving pleasure of a road car. Working with some of the world’s most respected and technologically advanced automotive suppliers, the Saleen S7 will have gone from concept to first customer deliveries in just 18 months.

A true supercar, the Saleen is S7 is capable of over 200 miles per hour. Zero-to-60 time is under four seconds. With its extreme ground effects engineering, at 160 mph the car could be driven upside down and still stay attached to the road.

When designing the S7, Saleen put drivability on a wide variety of road conditions high on the list of objectives. And, while the S7 would be at home on any racetrack, it is also a car that can be driven with pleasure on highways, autobahns and back roads.

The Saleen S7 architecture begins with a space frame chassis to which honeycomb composite reinforcing is grafted. Suspension is fully independent unequal length “A” arms. The S7 chassis and suspension are the result of Saleen’s years of racing, racecar building and high performance road car manufacturing experience. Famed British racing house Ray Mallock, Ltd. (RML) was enlisted to assist with the design and building of the chassis and packaging of the S7’s advanced suspension system.

The S7 engine and drive train are Saleen designed and incorporate modern racing motor technology and engineering. Saleen/Allen Speedlab race team engine builder, Bill Tally, is the engine’s designer. Based on a Ford-cast all aluminum block re-engineered by Saleen, the cam-in-block 7-liter motor generates 550 horsepower at 6400 rpm. Redline is 7000 rpm. The motor delivers 520 foot-pounds of torque at 4000 rpm. Space age materials and engineering are used throughout: magnesium throttle body and intake manifolds, carbon fiber induction system, stainless steel values, titanium retainers, beryllium exhaust valve seats, ceramic coated stainless steel exhaust system, and race-derived all-aluminum CNC machined Saleen designed heads.

An exclusive Saleen-designed Front Engine Accessory Drive (FEAD) system results in an extremely compact motor, allowing for better packaging and overall weight distribution. The motor incorporates a unique Saleen-designed side mounted water pump, extremely accurate belt-driven camshaft drive, and a Saleen-engineered dry sump oil delivery system.

The engine’s mid-chassis placement optimizes weight distribution and center of gravity, making room for an unusually tall engine that allows for a very efficient plenum arrangement. With true “downdraft” induction, fuel is fed through matched trumpets in a straight shot to the ports.

A Saleen PowerFlash control system computer handles engine management. The ignition system is integrated coil-on-plug.

A new generation longitudinally mounted six-speed transaxle, with unique Saleen bell housing, transfers power to the wheels. The clutch is a metallic 5.5 inch, four plate unit with hydraulic actuation.

The S7’s shape was “designed” by the wind. Optimal aerodynamics and no compromise top speed performance objectives were achieved with extensive wind tunnel work. Targets were high co-efficient of drag, optimum drag-to-lift ratio, and extreme down force. The S7 has “full tray” body sculpting underneath.

With the performance targets met, longtime Saleen design consultant Phil Frank then personalized and refined the aesthetics of the S7 with the addition of signature Saleen elements. The gill-like ducting is, of course, fully functional. The autoclave carbon fiber body panels beautifully incorporate the advanced aerodynamics and include: integrated split-channel air flow throughout the car, full underside air management, advanced front tray and side skirt designs, and integrated full body wing.

As much care has been given to the creature comforts of the Saleen S7 as to its performance. Great attention was given to seating position. The car features asymmetrical seating, with the driver position moved slightly more to the center than the passenger. This improves the driver’s ergonomics, improves the weight distribution, and allows the passenger side to have a narrower threshold. The S7 is unusually accommodating of tall drivers.

Upholstery is covered with Connolly leathers and suedes. Accents are brushed aluminum and painted body-color highlights. Air conditioning, power windows, adjustable pedals, and a 6-disc CD player are all standard. The Saleen S7 has two unique interior features. The first is a live video rear view “mirror” – there is a small video camera inconspicuously mounted in the rear of the car – and the second is a steering wheel that can be removed if wished to ease ingress and egress.

The mid-engine Saleen S7 has front and rear trunks and comes with fitted luggage. In true supercar style, the doors open up and away from the body.

“The car, when seen in person, has an amazing presence,” says Steve Saleen, founder and president of Saleen, Inc. “It is quite long and wide, and only 41 inches high, which adds to its exotic appearance. We wanted a ‘form-follows-function’ look, but also one that was beautiful. I’d say we succeeded!”

While the S7 is an American supercar, the vehicle itself reflects a “best-in-practice” philosophy, where Saleen has incorporated superior components from around the globe in order to manufacture the best vehicle possible. For example, the 2001 Saleen S7 utilizes Brembo brakes from Italy as well as numerous high technology pieces from companies located in the Midlands area of the United Kingdom, a region that is to motorsports what the Silicon Valley is to computers. The S7 was wind tunnel tested at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

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:
David Boulé, Pacific Communications Group – 310.224.4959
Michael Hollander, Pacific Communications Group – 310.224.4981

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

NORTHWEST’S LARGEST AUTO COMPANY EXPANDS WITH MERGER

Damerow Ford Joins Thomason Auto Group Under Asbury Auto Group Banner

PORTLAND, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jan. 14, 1999–Damerow Beaverton Ford, the Pacific Northwest’s largest Ford dealer, has announced a merger with Asbury Automotive LLC (Asbury), whose headquarters is located near Philadelphia.

In May, 1998, Thomason Auto Group of Portland, the largest automobile multi-dealership in the Pacific Northwest also merged with Asbury and formed Asbury Oregon Automotive (Asbury Oregon).

Scott Thomason said the two local dealerships, operating under the Asbury umbrella, will have sales nearing $1 billion by the year 2000.

With the addition of Damerow to its other 90 franchises, Asbury becomes the third largest auto retailer in the nation with 1998 annualized revenues of $3.2 billion.

When the merger is completed, Thomason Auto Group and Damerow will hold the number one local market sales position in every one of the following brand categories: Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota.

Thomason is president and chief executive officer of Asbury Oregon. Roderick Livesay is chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Asbury Oregon. They will work with John Francis who remains as senior vice president and general manager of Damerow Beaverton Ford. Francis also will be responsible for the Ford Motor Company relationship for Asbury Oregon.

Thomason said the merger will strengthen the position of Thomason and Damerow, giving customers greater selection, lower costs and better service.

Damerow executives George R. (Randy) Francis, long-time president of the company, and his son, John Francis, were instrumental in the merger decision. Financial terms were not disclosed regarding the merger, which should be completed by March 31, 1999.

Damerow’s 1998 sales were nearly $175 million, making it the leader among Ford dealerships in the Pacific Northwest. The company employs 280 and occupies 15 acres of property at its various dealership sites in Beaverton. The Damerow dealership headquarters is located at 12325 S.W. Canyon Road in Beaverton.

Asbury Oregon Shows Significant Growth

Together with Thomason Auto Group, Asbury Oregon projects $850 million in sales in 1999. The combined companies will have approximately 1,200 employees.

“The goal of the merger is to provide customers with lower prices and better service,” said John Francis.

“In addition to advantages for our customers, it will bring more opportunities for many of our employees,” Francis continued.

Thomason said, “Our merger with Asbury Auto Group gave us the capital needed for expansion. This is the first step in our expansion plans and we are very excited about it.”

“Consolidation is occurring in the auto sales industry,” Thomason said. “We can offer our customers economies of scale and we can maintain strong local sales, marketing and services with less threat of domination by an outside force.”

In addition to strengthening Asbury’s position in the Northwest, the Damerow acquisition also provides Asbury with a major entry into the growing Beaverton market.

Damerow: Beaverton Success Story

The Francis family has been involved in the automobile sales and service business since 1913 when the Francis Motor Company opened its doors on Grand Avenue in northeast Portland. The company was founded by Randy Francis’s uncle, C.E. Francis. Randy’s father, George L. Francis, later joined his brother and became general manager. The company eventually grew into one of the largest Ford dealerships in the nation.

In 1952, Herb Damerow was awarded the Ford franchise in Beaverton and asked Randy to join him. The Damerow location appeared to offer a better career opportunity and Randy accepted a management position there in 1955. Herb Damerow died in 1958 and Randy Francis purchased the dealership.

“It’s been my life. I’ve always been fond of the industry and it has always fascinated me, even in the beginning when I was involved as a race car driver,” Randy Francis said.

John Francis has been in the auto sales and service business for 31 years. He graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in business and returned to the family’s dealership to advance from assistant new car manager to new car manager. He then joined a business partner to purchase Gresham Ford and they sold that business to Brian Bickmore in 1989. Francis returned to Damerow to become a partner, senior vice president and general manager.

Thomason Ranks Nationally

Thomason Auto Group began as a single Ford dealership that Scott Thomason purchased from his father. Since that time, the company has entered the top tier of dealerships in the nation. Last year, the company sold over 27,500 vehicles. Net annual sales have climbed from $240 million in 1993 to approximately $545 million in 1998. Thomason ranked number 32 among the nation’s 22,000 dealerships in 1997.

[Source: Business Wire]