By: GREG MIGLIORE on May 8, 2014 at 4:56 am
Original Article: AUTOWEEK, VOL. 59 ISSUE 23
Saleen is poised for a comeback with a potent Mustang
Saleen traditionally has been about speed-specifically, frenetic Mustangs. But lately, it’s been more about controversy. And lawsuits. And piles of other stuff, none of which translates well to fast cars.
But now that it has been absorbed by a group of Michigan-based auto-parts companies, Saleen Performance Vehicles is trying to shift the conversation back to sheetmetal. It’s rolling out a new, souped-up ‘Stang with more power and some subtle styling cues that should help put the speed shop back on enthusiasts’ radars-for the right reasons.
We recently tested Saleen’s new creation, the 435S, in the backwoods of Michigan, and it’s an enjoyable, fairly minimalistic take on the iconic Mustang, with some pure sports-car ethos. The most significant modification is under the hood, where the Saleen Series VI supercharger boosts output to 435 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque. The pull is strong, particularly as the revs build, and the short-throw five-speed manual gearbox returns quick, proficient shifts.
The 435S is fitted with a Racecraft suspension, and ride height is lowered about an inch and a quarter. The car feels fast in corners, definitely sporty when you push it, but it’s comfortable enough not to be abusive over gravelly roads or choppy pavement.
There are relatively few cosmetic changes inside and out. The exterior is dressed up with hood and windshield graphics, chevrons, an optional rear spoiler, a blacked-out Saleen panel in the back and, of course, badging. The cockpit gets some minor stitching on the headrests and slightly modified gauges. Our test cars wore 19-inch, five-spoke wheels; optional 20-inchers and the base 18s also are available. Otherwise, it’s a stock Ford Mustang GT, though even at a glance, there’s obviously something special about this steed.
Saleen is looking to sell a modest 300 units of the 435S for the 2010 model year, and it’s really the entry-level model in Saleen’s new lineup. The S281, revealed at the SEMA show, features even more power, gaudier styling and perhaps a return to the lofty “American exotic” status Saleen once strived for.
Steve Saleen is gone; his new speed shop actually competes with his former company. But if the 435S and the S281 can conjure the emotions and visceral appeal of their forerunners, this new (old) Saleen may pull off an improbable comeback.
2010 Saleen 435S Ford Mustang
ON SALE: Now
BASE PRICE: $39,940
DRIVETRAIN: 4.6-liter, 435-hp, 425 lb-ft supercharged V8; RWD, five-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 3,535 lb
0-60 MPH: 4.6 sec (mfr)
FUEL ECONOMY: 17 mpg (mfr)
“In these difficult economic times we wanted our first vehicle to deliver a lot for an affordable price,” — Mike Shields, CEO of Saleen Performance Vehicles.
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C., July 24, 2009 – Saleen Performance Vehicles today unveiled its first 2010 product, the Saleen 435S, based on the new 2010 Ford Mustang. The introduction took place as part of the Special Vehicle Team Owners Association’s annual “Mustang Week” event. The 435S is the first vehicle launched under Saleen’s new ownership, following the purchase of Saleen Inc. earlier this year.
This car continues the Saleen tradition of offering limited-edition, high-performance vehicles for enthusiasts who are looking for an exhilarating driving experience, with refined drivability for real-world road conditions.
The 435S is designed to provide affordable, high-value performance.
“In these difficult economic times we wanted our first vehicle to deliver a lot for an affordable price,” said Mike Shields, CEO of Saleen Performance Vehicles. “It was created much more for ‘go’ than for show. We focused on power and handling, and it’s a great platform to build on if a customer wants to take it farther later on.”
The heart of the car’s performance is its 4.6-liter, 3-valve SOHC V8 engine, complete with a Saleen Series VI twin-screw supercharger and two-stage intercooler. This engine produces a vigorous 435 horsepower and 425 lb.-ft. of torque, is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, and has a 3.73:1 rear axle ratio with limited-slip differential.
The car rides 1.5 inches lower than a Mustang GT, thanks to its Saleen Racecraft performance suspension. The system is designed to reduce body roll, provide nimble, precise handling and improve traction, while retaining the compliant ride of a good daily driver. The suspension package includes springs, a stiffer front stabilizer bar, and nitrogen-pressurized shock absorbers tuned exclusively for the 435S.
The vented brake rotors, front and rear, are slotted and cross-drilled for improved feel and stopping performance. Larger, 14-inch slotted front rotors with 4-piston calipers are available as an option.
The 435S has the Saleen-signature long, low, sleek looks and aggressive stance that have distinguished the company’s previous cars. Traditional Saleen styling cues include an understated trim panel between the taillights with “Saleen” in raised lettering, mesh covers over the fog lights in the grille, and the Saleen name and chevrons as graphic elements placed low on each side. An optional Aero Package includes a lightweight chin splitter and rear spoiler for improved aerodynamics.
Other exterior highlights include unique, 18-inch, 5-spoke alloy wheels (19- and 20-inch wheels are available), and “435S” lettered on each side of the hood’s power dome.
Inside, the modifications are designed to enhance the driving experience and to express the car’s character. These include a new, short-throw shifter for quick, precise gear-changing performance, and new, driver-oriented gauges. These uniquely styled gauges retain Mustang’s MyColor™ capabilities that allow the owner to select from more than 125 custom colors for the instrument cluster. The car’s identity is highlighted by a Saleen logo embroidered on the headrests.
“All in all, we believe the 435S is the right car at the right time,” said Shields. “It’s a terrific performance value that we’re proud to offer. And this is just the first of many great Saleen vehicles we’ll be launching in the future.”