Tag Archives: Mustang

WILD HORSES: SALEEN S7S, MODIFIED MUSTANGS

By: GERRY MALLOY on August 31, 2002
Original Article: TORONTO STAR (CANADA)

Supercar, Muscle Car Combo Drives Early Racing Success

Steve Saleen stunned the automotive press at the Monterey Historic Races at Laguna Seca when he not only announced that he was going into the supercar business, but unveiled a sleek prototype.

That was two years ago. Much has happened since.

The high-performance, mid-engined supercar is the purest form of the modern automobile.

Exemplified by such exotica as the Ferrari F50, Lamborghini Murcielago and McLaren F1, it is a barely tamed race-car, adapted for use on the street.

Predominantly a product of Europe, the genre has been the subject of numerous North American concept cars. The few attempts that have been made to build and market such cars on this continent have ended in ignominy.

Saleen aims to break that pattern. If anyone outside the Big Three can do it, he is probably the one.

He is already well on his way. When I visited the Saleen assembly plant in Irvine, Calif., his fabricators were working on chassis number 19 in the company’s S7 lineage.

Not only does he have the facilities and expertise to achieve his production goal of 15 to 20 vehicles a year, he has the critical mass to support it; he is also building 20 Saleen Mustangs a week in the same plant.

Total production of those highly modified Mustangs has approached 10,000 units over the 19 years since he began the business.

Saleen himself is a racer at heart. He competed in everything from autocross and Formula Atlantic to Trans-Am and Indy cars.

He is a businessman, with a degree from USC and a flair for promotion. He is the most successful private North American auto manufacturer in modern history.

Because most of his creations are Mustang-based, many regard Saleen as little more than a tuner. But the changes he makes to the Mustangs are such that the cars must be individually certified for both emissions and crash-test performance.

So Saleen’s operations are afforded full-fledged manufacturer status.

Everything about his 14,000-square-metre plant, located in the heart of California’s aerospace and automotive community, supports that designation.

The Mustangs are disassembled as they arrive from Ford, then they go on dollies through a 13-station assembly line, each with its own team and tasks, for reconstruction.

Saleen supplies three body styles: coupe, roadster and speedster for each of three models, designated S281, S281 Supercharged and S281-E.

The number 281 derives from the displacement, in cubic inches, of the Ford 4.6-litre SOHC V8 that serves as a base for modification.

In S281 trim, the Saleen engine is rated at 285 hp. Adding a supercharger bumps that figure to 365, and the E-model raises it again, to 425 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque – which is delivered through a six-speed, quick-ratio manual gearbox.

Suspension, drivetrain, brakes, interior, wiring, front and rear fascias, hoods, and, in some cases, even external body panels, are replaced by Saleen-designed and, in many cases, Saleen-produced components.

Many of the cars are fitted with full roll cages.

A separate finishes-and-composites division, soon to be integrated into the main plant, is responsible for manufacturing many of those parts, and for finishing them and the cars themselves in a range of exclusive and evocatively-named Saleen colours, including Lizstick red, named for his wife.

The combined operations employ more than 150 people, including a support team for Saleen-owners’ many racing efforts.

The success of Saleen’s Mustangs on the track have pushed him and his cars into the limelight, and supported the success of the manufacturing business..

The real excitement these days lies on the other side of the shop in the eight race-car bays where the exotic S7s and S7Rs (the racing versions) are assembled.

Developed with Ray Mallock, a British race- and specialty-car builder of considerable repute, the original protype supercar was as stunning as its Laguna Seca announcement.

Long and low, with the engine amidships and air vents everywhere (every one with a purpose, Saleen says), its silhouette showed the influence of cars such as the Jaguar XK 220 and Lamborghinis and Bugattis.

But it had its own distinctive form.

It remains powered by a 7.0-litre, OHV V8, which had its genesis as a Ford service-parts aluminum racing block, but is now all-Saleen.

The engine is rated at 550 hp at 6400 rpm, and 525 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm – more in racing trim, and more than enough to make it a supercar.

Just as impressive are the rest of its credentials, which resonate pure race car: lightweight tubular-steel space frame with aluminum honeycomb structural panels; carbon-fibre body panels; double-wishbone front-and-rear suspensions; six-speed transaxle; and gigantic Brembo brakes.

Some members of the automotive press, who had seen such hopes raised and dashed before, dismissed the idea as a publicity stunt or a dream.

Saleen made believers by fielding a racing version of the prototype – which showed considerable promise – before the end of the year.

In 2001, an S7R won the 12-hours of Sebring, beating GM’s Corvette C5-Rs, qualified on the GTS class pole and finished on the GTS podium at Le Mans, and propelled lead driver Terry Borcheller to the ALMS GTS driver’s championship, beating out Ron Fellows (who’s dominating this season).

Saleen S7Rs won four separate championships in Europe and North America in their first full year.

Some people, Saleen says, have suggested that he is in the production car business just to support his racing habit – a motivation Enzo Ferrari openly admitted. But he claims it is the other way around; he races to support his production car business.

The production cars reflect this. They have high quality materials throughout, impeccable workmanship and a host of premium features, including a custom-fitted driving seat, an integrated DVD/GPS/TV/NAV-system, and custom-fitted luggage by Mulholland Brothers.

Would you expect less for US$395,000? Automobiles Bugatti of Montreal has been appointed Canadian distributor for the S7, which, Saleen says, will comply with all Canadian regulations, but price and delivery details have yet to be determined.

POWER PASSION DOESN’T GO FOR A SONG

By: ROB GUEST on June 15, 2002
Original Article: HERALD SUN (MELBOURNE)

I LOVE cars. At the last count, I have owned 85 since I began driving in New Zealand at the age of 15. That works out to about two different cars a year.

But I would have to go a long way to beat my latest, a 2001 Saleen Mustang Speedster.

I bought the Mustang, fully imported from the US, on impulse one afternoon while driving around North Sydney.

I just traded in the BMW on the spot, because I loved the Mustang the minute I saw it.

I have owned Jaguars, Porsches, BMWs, a Lotus Esprit and Mercedes but one thing is certain: my passion has cost me a lot of money.

Probably the worst deal I have made was when I bought a black Lotus Esprit Turbo S4. It had been first prize in a raffle. It was worth $215,000 on the road, so I said I would buy it if the highest offer was less than $130,000.

I was doing Phantom of the Opera at the time and my mobile phone rang during the interval to say I had been successful.

I had to sell my Mercedes 500SL Convertible to pay for it and the Lotus proved to be a very unwise investment.

I later sold it for $115,000 with only 3000km on the clock. It was a great car to drive. It would go from nought to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds, but to reach the handbrake I had to rest my head on the windscreen.

My mum has seen at first hand my impulsive nature. I was out with her one day in my black Jaguar XJ6.

I saw a Triumph Stag on a stand at a car dealership. I pulled over, worked out the difference in the changeover, had the stereo moved into the Stag and half an hour later we were off again, in the new car.

The problem is, you never make money on cars. Luxury cars are just that… you never make money on them.

But I just love cars and I always will.

FELLOWS’ WIN BREAKS BAD LUCK SPELL AT SEBRING

By: RICK MATSUMOTO on March 17,2002
Original Article: TORONTO STAR (CANADA)

Ron Fellows has finally captured the elusive 12 Hours of Sebring.

The Mississauga driver brought the Corvette C5-R across the finish line at Florida’s 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway last night at the head of the GTS class.

The victory came in the fourth attempt by Fellows and Corvette Racing to win the Sebring race, which along with the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Daytona, is considered one of the three major endurance events of world sports car racing.

“Finally, we finally did it,” said a relieved Fellows on the victory podium.

While Fellows, who had put the Corvette on the pole in qualifying, started and finished the race, he shared the driving with long-time co-driver Johnny O’Connell and newcomer Oliver Gavin.

Fellows’ car finished ninth overall, after covering 317 laps, 29 laps behind the winning Audi.

Interestingly, Gavin was one of the three drivers in the Saleen Mustang that upset Fellows and Corvette in last year’s Sebring race. This year, the Saleen S7R placed second with 309 laps.

Fellows had been the surprise overall winner of the 2001 24 Hours of Daytona a month earlier and had been the heavy favourite to win at Sebring. However, major mechanical problems allowed the Saleen to take the checkered flag in the GTS class.

This year Corvette Racing decided to pass up the Daytona race and concentrate its efforts on producing a reliable, as well as quicker, car for Sebring.

Audi, with lead driver Johnny Herbert driving the last hour, won the Prototype 900 class and the overall title for the third consecutive year.

PENSKE TOPS IRL: Helio Castroneves, a pilot for the IRL-interloper Marlboro Team Penske, captured pole position for today’s 200-lapper at Phoenix International Raceway by turning in a blistering lap of 20.0124 seconds around the one-mile oval – a speed of 179.888 m.p.h.

Castroneves nipped defending race winner Sam Hornish Jr. by 0.017 of a second to capture his first IRL pole.

TARGA RALLY TALLY A RECORD 150 ENTRANTS

By: N.A. on June 22, 2001
Original Article: WAIKATO TIMES

This year’s Dunlop Targa New Zealand rally will be the largest competitive rally held in this country with 150 entries so far.

The six-day tarmac rally is the seventh to be run and will be held from October 23 to 28.

The 2000 event was taken out by Australia’s Craig Dean in a Saleen Mustang with most of the 11 Australian cars that crossed the Tasman acquitting themselves well.

The 2001 Targa, which runs in central North Island, has a mixture of old and new stages over 600km of closed roads and 1300km of touring.

Since the 1999 event the emphasis of the event has changed away from contemporary 4WD cars (only six are accepted), which has brought out a larger number of interesting cars.

Among the entries there is a 1963 Sayer lightweight E Type Jaguar, two ex-group B MG Metro 6R4s from the 1980s, 10 Ford Escorts, both MK1 and MK2 with two being RS1800s from the 1980s, a Mini Cooper powered Mini Marcos, two 1960s Sunbeam Rapiers, several MGBs and a lone Audi Quattro.

Also entered is Robbie Francevic, the charismatic Kiwi who has been winning national and international events since the 1960s. Francevic won the 1967 national championship for sedans in the Custaxie, the inaugural Wellington street race with a Volvo 240T in 1986, and the following year the 1987 Australian Touring Car Championship.

Francevic is running in a 1969 Pontiac GTO.

In the more modern categories there are four Mazda RX7 Batmobiles, seven Porsches and seven Peugeots, two Nissan Skylines and the latest Ford Mustang Cobra R. There is also a yet-to-be released 2001 Honda Integra Type R.

Ex-Tasman Motorsport Indy Car Team owner Steve Horne has put to one side his normal management role and is driving the Integra.

Some of the more quirky vehicles include a 1955 Chevrolet Pickup with a 5-litre V8, a 1999 Chevrolet Silverado ute, a Subaru Legacy GT Station wagon and a Ford Anglia with Nissan running gear.

Already entered from Australia are a Tasmanian team in an EH Holden and a MGB Roadster from NSW. Andrew Bryson from Western Australia has teamed up with Kiwi Rootes Group specialist Brian Bradshaw in a Hillman Imp. From Queensland there is a 1970s Datsun H510.

HARRY DRIVES ‘EM WILD

By: NEIL DOWLING on March 28,2004
Original Article: SUNDAY TIMES, THE (PERTH)

People lust over this car and for good reason. It’s the only one of its type in the state and costs more than $100,000. Neil Dowling reports on a rare import

Harry Martin is used to people admiring his rare car. One day, at a concourse for Fords in Perth, he returned to his display car and found a woman sitting behind the steering wheel receiving stern words from her husband.

“I can’t get her out,” the husband said, “and she says she won’t leave until she gets one.”

She didn’t get one because there’s just one in WA, possibly only one in Australia, and it cost Harry $110,000 six years ago. So she left.

But that’s the attraction of the rare Saleen Mustang or to give it its full title, the S281 Speedster.

“It always draws a crowd because it is a mix of retro and modern, and people clearly see it’s not a Mustang Cobra, even though it’s based on one,” Harry said.

“Once I reckon I spoke to 600 people at one car show. It was great.”

Harry’s passion for the Saleen goes beyond owning a rare car.

When his car goes on show it collects much-needed donations for the Special Air Services’ resources trust, an organization involved in funding community projects such as mobile work camps. Harry heads the SAS Trusts not-for-profit Administrative Training Services Unit.

When the car is on display the trust holds raffles of rare-model Saleen cars signed by the car’s maker, Steve Saleen, as prizes.

“We’ve raised about $11,000 for the trust through car appearances and raffles,” Harry said.

Harry’s charitable example of an S281 is No. 10 of a limited edition of just 100 cars. It is the most popular model of a seven-car line-up produced by the Californian-based specialist vehicle builder, Saleen.

“It has the smallest engine of the V8s but Saleen has worked on it to produce 213kW (285hp) and a 0-100km/h time of only 5.2 seconds,” Harry said. “It is not only quick but I regularly get 11-litres/100km on standard unleaded petrol.”

“That’s a lot better than a quad-cam Mustang Cobra previously sold here through Tickford.”

To create an S281, Saleen buys Mustangs from Ford’s Dearborn factory at Michigan and strips them back in its Californian workshop in Irvine, Orange County.

Parts replaced range from suspension to brakes, body kits to woodgrain trim, and a new engine, differential and exhaust system.

It is numbered, in Harry’s case 9810 for the year of manufacture and its production number, and has flank graphics to bang the point home that this is no Mustang.

It’s unusual for a Saleen to be exported. Harry’s car was converted to right-hand drive in Australia. The high cost of his convertible is attributed mainly to the handmade components used to change it to right-hand drive and the import and state stamp duties.

His purchase was also influenced by the poor exchange rate in 1998. “It would be a lot cheaper to buy one now,” he said.

“Saleens are hard to get hold of and they’re very scare on the second-hand market in the US.”

They also hold their value. Three US magazines, Road & Track, Car & Driver and Motor Trend, rated the Saleen Mustangs as having the highest resale value of seven sports cars, including the Porsche Boxster, Jaguar XK8, Firebird Trans Am and Corvette.

“In this year, my 1998 model has an 84 per cent retained value. That’s pretty hard to beat for a six-year-old car.” Harry’s car may even be worth more. It recently won gold in its class at this year’s 40th anniversary Mustang show held by the Mustang Owners Club.

It looks, and drives, like brand new. The interior is flawless leather, the chromework is unblemished, the Eagle tyres barely show wear and the Laser Red paint mirrors the devotion given to the car.

That it’s covered just 26,000km since Harry bought it also improves its value and appeal.

“It’s my job,” he said of the low odometer reading. “I’m away 260 days of the year, so I don’t get to drive it as often as I want.”

The mesh-covered intake holes in the front spoiler and on the flanks seem to be for aesthetics.

“No, they’re for real,” Harry says. “The front ones lead to ducting to cool the front brakes and the intakes on the side, behind the doors does the same thing for the rear brakes.”

In the flesh it looks great. Smaller than the specifications indicate but well-balanced and distinctive.

“If it wasn’t as fast as what it is, I’d still have bought it,” he said. “It’s just a great car to drive.”

“At 110km/h that engine is only spinning at 1800rpm in fifth gear. Generally, I’d only use up to third gear, sometimes fourth, on a drive.”

This weekend Harry leaves to again visit the Saleen factory and catch up with a few good Ford guys, including racer and Cobra originator Carroll Shelby.

He may even have a look over the Saleen S7.

“I wouldn’t sell my car. Well, perhaps for an S7,” he says, of the purpose-built Saleen racer. “Maybe an SR. No, no. I’d only sell my car for the S7.”

specs
Saleen S281 Speedster
Price: about $120,000
Engine: 4.6-litre, V8, SOHC, 16-valve
Power: 213kW @ 5100rpm
Torque: 449Nm @ 4100rpm
0-100km/h: 5.2 seconds
Top speed: 260km/h
Fuel: Standard unleaded
Fuel tank: 59 litres
Fuel economy: 11.5-litres/100km
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Drive: Rear
Suspension: Front — MacPherson struts, variable-rate springs; Rear
— live axle, four-link, variable-rate springs on trailing arms,
four gas shocks
Brakes: 4-wheel discs, ABS
Wheels: 17-inch alloys, 245/45R17 tyres
Spare tyre: Full size
Length: 4630mm
Width: 1828mm
Height: 1305mm
Track: Front — 1493mm; Rear — 1538mm
Wheelbase: 2533mm
Weight: 1645kg

ALL-NEW 2000 SALEEN SR PROVIDES ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE

FOR RELEASE AT 3 P.M. PST, JANUARY 7, 2000

SR Blends High Performance With Race Technology

IRVINE, Calif. – There’s a new car from America’s best-known performance car manufacturer. The 2000 SR from Saleen takes “street performance” to its ultimate.

With an energizing 505 horsepower from its 5.8 liter Saleen Centrifugal Supercharged V-8 engine and a Saleen Racecraft designed independent rear suspension, the SR takes curves with the same force as it does straightaways.

“We’ve used our racing experience on the track and adapted this technology in the engineering of the SR to create the ultimate street performance vehicle,” said Steve Saleen, president and founder of Saleen lnc. .“The SR goes frdm 0-60 mph ‘very quickly’ and hits a quarter mile speed ‘very fast.”

The 2000 SR is highlighted by Saleen’s 5.8-liter Ford-based engine producing 505 hp and 500 lbs of torque mated to a Saleen six-speed transmission. A custom Saleen driveshaft leads to an IRS differential system at a gear ratio of 3.55:1. Braking is through 14.4” front rotors with four-piston calipers. Rear brakes are 13.0″ metallic discs with four-piston calipers. Unibody construction features a complete roll cage and suspension reinforcement system. A refined Saleen Racecraft suspension includes independent uneven length double wishbones with Saleen N2 triple adjustable shocks and adjustable sway bars in the front and a Saleen-designed push-pull Independent rear suspension.

The SR also includes power assisted rack and pinion steering. Additional features include race inspired seats and a white instrument gauge cluster with a 200 mph speedometer.

The Saleen SR boasts exterior aerodynamic refinements beyond the base complete body panels of the Saleen S281, including a specially-designed composite hood, composite rear bodywork and underbody tunnel. The SR was wind-tunnel tuned at Lockheed-Martin’s full-size tunnel in Marietta, Georgia. The SR comes standard with 18” wheels and Pirelli P-Zero tires. Every body part is unique to the Saleen SR, with the exception of the windows.

The Saleen SR is available as a coupe only. The retail price for the Saleen SR starts at $150,000. Like all Saleen vehicles, the 2000 SR is available only at Saleen Certified Ford dealers nationwide. For a list of Saleen Certified Ford dealers, contact Saleen at 9 Whatney, lrvine, CA 92618, call 949-457-9100 or go to www.saleen.com.

Saleen manufacturing facilities include complete research, engineering, design and assembly capability. Saleen is certified by the federal government as a specialty vehicle manufacturer. Saleen manufactured vehicles meet all the same Federal government regulations as those of large automobile manufacturers, and come with a full factory warranty.

Since the company’s inception in 1984, Saleen has produced over 7,000 vehicles, more than any other specialty manufacturer. The company’s line includes Saleen S281, S351 sports cars, Saleen XP8 sport utility and Saleen Performance Parts, the latter a complete line of performance and appearance products for Mustangs and Explorers.

Contact: Michael F. Hollander, Pacific Communications Group 310.224.4981

9 Whatney Irvine, CA 92618
t 949 597 4900
f 949 597 0301
www.saleen.com

Click here to participate in the discussion.

SALEEN MUSTANG S281

By: DUTCH MANDEL on November 11, 1999
Original Article: AUTOWEEK, VOL. 49, ISSUE 46

Saleen: the world’s largest tuner or the smallest manufacturer?

350 hp @ 5000 rpm; 410 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
Base price, $29,900; as tested, $40,344

When is a tuner not a tuner, and is instead a manufacturer?

It’s a question not of semantics nor philosophical debate, but of pride. It is also a question Steve Saleen begs to ask. Saleen argues that by definition tuner companies get cars or trucks and bolt onto them go-fast, look-trick, be-pretty parts. On the other hand, Saleen gets a car virtually as a body in white and puts it together from the ground up. In this way the company is able to tune suspension, drivetrain and many other parts-all while maintaining quality control-unequalled in the tuner car world.

That question asked, even the government identifies Saleen as a specialty vehicle manufacturer, which requires the Southern California-based company to build cars under the same strict governmental guidelines for safety, emissions and quality as those that regulate DaimlerChrysler or General Motors.

Saleen has a point. One of the first things you notice in getting behind the wheel of the 2000 model year S281 Mustang is the fit and finish; everything seems to fit and it looks finished, neither of which can be said for fly-by-night jobbers. The white Saleen gauges integrated in the instrument panel match a pair of supercharger boost gauges tucked in a dash-mounted housing that appears to have come from Dearborn. It has not, of course, and this is where Saleen’s argument begins to bear weight.

Take a look at some of the other interior details attributable to Saleen: An extremely close-ratio gearbox moves in shifts that can’t stretch more than four inches, whether from first to second, or second to third. The shifter isn’t fitted with a knob so much as a form-fitted thick stalk which begs to be grabbed and directed. Even the throttle, brake and clutch pedals are cleanly customized with Saleen identification. Subtle Saleen identification.

Which seems another touchstone for tuners: the insistence on making it known to the free world This Car Is Tuned By (Fill In The Blank). Please guys-including you, Saleen-learn a softer, gentler touch. We understand the want to brand a car, but the overuse of over large, bright graphics is closer to scarification. This Saleen would be best with the exterior graphics removed-let the exceptional, almost sinister profile grab attention, and the S281’s mighty performance do the talking.

It is amazing what 350 supercharged horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque will do for the Mustang-even a Mustang without the Cobra’s independent rear suspension. But this suspension works. It’s a hybrid MacPherson strut front with Saleen Racecraft struts and variable rate springs. Keeping the front end locked down is a serious 1.38-inch antiroll bar. In the back is the tried-and-true live axle, this with lower trailing arms, stabilizer bars and a Quadra Shock system, also fitted with Saleen-calibrated units.

The fun is in the driving. And if you need to crank up the fun quotient a bit, find some moist pavement with newly fallen leaves. All we can say, after the heart stops its fibrillation, is thank goodness for traction control and ABS, both of which are on the S281.

When driving the S281 on clean, dry pavement, the car’s mature behavior is immediately noticeable. It doesn’t want to dart and shoot willy-nilly. It sets a track and takes the line. The ride, while not luxury-sedan smooth (nor should it be), is not at all uncomfortable as many high-performance cars can be. The question, of course, is could you own and drive this as a daily commuter?

Sure you could. The likelihood is that for its 25-percent premium over the base Saleen Mustang (the S281 we tested topped out at slightly more than $40,000, which includes dealer destination) you’ll want to keep it in the garage for special cruising. You wouldn’t be alone as in the 16 years since Saleen first plied his trade, he’s produced more than 7000 vehicles. And that’s a far step ahead of where tuner cars-or perhaps better and more accurately said, specialty vehicle manufactured cars-once were.

S351 RATED AMERICA’S FASTEST “STREET-LEGAL” RACE CAR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Top-Of-The-Line Saleen Mustang S351 Smokes The Competition,
Blends Sleek Styling With Ultra-high Performance

“This is a car that does everything the way God intended it to.” AUTOMOBILE MAGAZINE

IRVINE, Calif. – Faster than a speeding bullet, Saleen’s S351 Mustang is a combination of superior engineering and sleek styling, making it the quickest sports car on the road today. Besides speed, the S351 offers optimum handling and comfort.

“We’ve used our racing experience on the track and adapted this technology in the engineering of the 351 to create the ultimate performance vehicle,” said Steve Saleen, president and founder of Saleen Inc. and the Saleen/Allen “RRR” Speedlab. “The S351 goes from 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds and hits a quarter mile speed at more than 122 mph, making it the fastest sports car in America.”

The S351 is highlighted by Saleen’s 351 cu. in. Ford-based engine and six-speed transmission, producing 495 hp and 490 lbs of torque, 13” front brake rotors with four-piston calipers and a refined Saleen Racecraft suspension. Additional features include race inspired seats and a white instrument gauge cluster with a 200 mph speedometer.

The Saleen Mustang S351 boasts exterior aerodynamic refinements from the base Saleen Mustang S281 including a specially-designed composite hood, composite rear wing and rear fascia. The 351 also comes standard with 18” wheels and Pirelli tires.

The Saleen S351 is available as a coupe, convertible or ultra-exotic Speedster. The suggested retail price for the Saleen S351 Mustang starts at $55,990. Saleen vehicles are available at Saleen Certified Ford dealers nationwide. For: list of Saleen Certified Ford dealers, contact Saleen at 9 Whatney, Irvine, CA 92618, call 949-457-9100 or go to www.saleen.com.

Saleen facilities include total research, engineering, design and assembly capability. Saleen is certified by the federal government as a specialty vehicle manufacturer. Since the company’s inception in 1984, Saleen has produced nearly 7,000 vehicles, more than any other specialty manufacturer. The company’s line includes Saleen Mustangs, Saleen Explorers and Saleen Performance Parts, the latter a complete line of performance and appearance products for Mustangs and Explorers.

Contact: Michael F. Hollander, Pacific Communications Group 310.224.4981

9 Whatney Irvine, CA 92618
t 949 597 4900
f 949 597 0301
www.saleen.com

SALEEN / FORD MUSTANG IN RETROSPECT

By: LARRY ROBERTS on October 30, 1998
Original Article: www.theautochannel.com

Sometimes when I get Steve Saleen’s press releases about his Team Saleen endeavors both on the race track and in the showroom, I get the feeling that he was born after his time. He should have been in the business of building specially-built sports cars in the ’60s when Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney and the other Southern California hot-rodders-turned-car-constructors were in their hey-days. They built cars for the SCCA Trans Am series for pony cars and became house-hold names to American road racing fans.

It’s not that Saleen has done badly. Quite the contrary. Starting in ’84 with the “Fox” platform Mustang, he’s built a successful business of modifying Ford Mustangs into Saleen Mustangs that are changed enough cosmetically so that buyers of his slick speedsters won’t have their mounts mistaken for the Dearborn version and souped-up enough so that the drivers of most other cars on the street will only get a view of Saleen tailpipes. And he’s done it with the approval of our federal government, a daunting task in itself.

But the promotional venue that Saleen shines in is his participation in racing. In his early years, Saleen himself drove sports car races in semi-pro SCCA events, branched out into driving Saleen-prepared Ford Rangers in the now defunct SCCA series for mini-pickups and even into an unsuccessful stab at the Indy 500, as I recall.

Saleen’s fortunes took a quantum leap a few years ago when he took in Tim Allen, star of the TV series “Home Improvement,” as a partner and formed Saleen/Allen “RRR” Speedlab to build and campaign Saleen SR351 Mustangs in various road races. Allen himself did some of the driving in these events but it quickly showed that simply enjoying cars and owning part of a racing team doesn’t qualify a person to strap himself into a racer and get into the thick of the action. When I saw Allen drive a Saleen/Mustang at Sears Point Raceway in Northern California a few years ago, he was nine seconds off the pace and the regular Saleen pilots had a task in hand to make up the time. I haven’t heard of Allen driving for a while and I suspect that it dawned on him and his TV producers that a guy can get hurt in professional racing if he’s not up to the pace. He did drive at Grand Rapids, Michigan this year where he placed 14th.

For 1998 Steve Saleen and his Saleen/Allen “RRR” Speedlab team pretty much concentrated on the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) World Challenge T1 series for more-or-less production-based sports cars (as opposed to the purpose-built SCCA Trans Am “tube frame” cars), and to say that Saleen was a big fish in the fairly small pond is an understatement. His star driver, Terry Boscheller, won five of the nine races outright and placed second enough times to win the Manufacturer’s Cup for the Southern California-based company as well as the Driver’s Championship for himself.

Although the World Challenge is considered a Saturday warmer-upper race for Trans Am and other more premium events, the Saleen team won against such classy car-and-driver combinations as Bobby Archer, a long-time Chrysler driver, piloting a Dodge Viper GTS and Peter Cunningham in a factory Acura NSX.

For ’98, Steve Saleen is branching out into other auto fields like videos, jackets and tee-shirts, club memberships and other booster merchandise. He also produces a line of special Saleen/Mustangs for a Budget rental fleet in the Los Angeles area.

On second thought, I think that Steve Saleen is in his correct time frame. He’s too much of a business man to have been able to acclimatize his organization to those wild and loose days of the ’60s.

SPORTS CAR INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE: PONY EXPRESSED

August / September 1998
Original Article: Sports Car International Magazine

Take the traditional muscle car formula and turn it up to 11.
Result: Saleen’s 495 horsepower S-351 Speedster.

It’s no wonder Tim Allen’s such a good comedian. You’d be laughing too if you got to drive a supercharged Saleen everyday, then race one on the weekends. Allen joined forces with Saleen in 1995 to form “RRR Speedlab,” the same year Saleen debuted his supercharged Mustang. In the intervening three years, this team has taken their trick pony to places unimagined until recently. In 1996, Saleen and Allen won the SCCA manufacturer’s championship for FoMoCo, and in 1997, they became the first American team to run a factory Ford at Le Mans since Carroll Shelby turned the trick 30 years ago.

news_1998_01_scim_s351
1998 S351 Speedster

Although Saleen builds a wide variety of Mustangs, and even Explorers for every pocketbook, the pride of the Irvine, California stable goes to the S-351, and its racing cousin, the 351SR. When Ford introduced the latest version of the Mustang in 1994, Saleen was already well into the development phase of his take on the new “modular” block 4.6-liter V8. But the 281 cubic inch engine, rated at 225 hp in Saleen trim, just didn’t have the grunt to capture the imagination of a populace weaned on big block Vettes and muscle cars.

What to do? Dropping a true big block into the Mustang would have caused insurmountable problems in the emissions department. As Bob Mink, Saleen’s Director of R&D says, “It’s extremely difficult for large block engines to meet cold-start emission standards.” A turbo was considered and dismissed because of its indifferent performance at low engine speeds. Mink again: “A turbo is counterproductive because it eliminates the low-end torque. It interferes with the exhaust path, and you lose the grunt. That grunt is why people buy these cars in the first place.”

Saleen has more than a little experience in the art of persuasion, having induced 5000 buyers to purchase his Mustangs since 1984. So the R&D team settled on a Vortech supercharger as the best answer to the high performance/ low good emissions equation. Vortech makes the centrifugal V-1 blower at their facility in Moorpark, California. Erstwhile Trans-Am team sponsor AER manufactures the long-block 351 to Saleen specs in Dallas, Texas and test fires each engine before shipping it to Saleen’s Irvine factory for final assembly and chassis installation.

The goodies on this 500 horse motor include forged pistons and special cylinder heads designed by Saleen and cast from aluminum. The piping to and from the Vortec huffer is brightly polished alloy, while the aluminum valve covers are sedate-looking by comparison in flat silver. Upper and lower intake manifolds are specific to the Vortec’s induction requirements. Ceramic-coated headers dump exhaust gasses into a series of stainless four-way cats that empty into a melifluous Saleen/Borla mufflers with a 2.5 inch pipe orifice. A hydraulic-roller camshaft features roller rockers for improved valve actuation. An entire 65 mm worth of throttle body controls air flow to an 80 mm mass-air sensor. Once the tweaked engines arrive at Irvine from AER, Saleen technicians install special 36 lb/hr fuel injectors and a bright red Saleen wire loom to fire the NGK spark plugs.

While AER is busy building engines for this project, Saleen’s staff of 30 employees transform production V6 Mustangs into S-351s. They strip each base model ponycar of its drivetrain and suspension, then add the, 5.8 liter V8 that Bob Mink calls “the big block for today’s world.” The suspension is bound together like pages in the Saleen parts catalogue. There’s a quartet of progressive rate “”Racecraft”” springs which lower the chassis by over an inch. But as Saleen says, compared with an F355, we’re about ten feet higher than the Ferrari.” But that’s okay by Steve, because he wants to build real world cars that his customers can drive everyday.

Saleen worked closely with Bilstein to perfect the valving on the “”N2″” nitrogen gas shocks front and rear. The addition of a machined adjustable upper front camber plate allows Saleen to dial additional negative camber into the front end when performing his “performance alignment” on the tuned chassis. Strangely absent from the engine bay is a front strut tower crossbrace – probably the victim of supercharger-reduced hood clearance. A 1.38 inch Racecraft front sway bar pivots in urethane bushings. In the rear, Racecraft N2 axle dampeners try to keep the live axle four-bar rear suspension from acting out. But the Achilles heel of the car remains its solid rear axle. When reminded of its shortcomings, R&D guy Mink scowls, “You can get rid of it if you want to pay an extra $10,000. We’ll build you an independent rear with aluminum control arms, and dual four-arm lateral links.” Ford initially conceived this upgrade, but dismissed the technology as too expensive for the market to subsidize.

Some of the biggest changes to this Mustang are those you can’t see. Buried behind the 5-spoke front wheels are 4-piston calipers clamping 13-inch vented brake discs, grooved for water dispersion. Rear discs, also vented and grooved, are 10.5 inches in diameter. The upgraded brakes stop the S-351 in 110 feet from 60 mph. And instead of the conventional 5-speed manual gearbox , a 6-speed T-56 transmits 490 pound-feet of torque to the 8.8 inch rear end through 3.27:1 gears and a Torsen differential. A 3.55:1 rear gear set is optionally available for $812. That’s right, there’s a Borg-Warner gearbox lurking under the still-canted Mustang-style shift lever, and the reason you’ll find a (horrors) GM cog driving this ultimate Ford is the availability of that sixth gear.

From a technology standpoint, the toughest part of the entire S-351 project was getting the supercharged motor to meet emissions requirements and produce good top end horsepower. One goal or the other was easy to accomplish, but in order to achieve both, the drivetrain required a six-speed box, something Ford does not make. Mink explains: “Technologically, the most advanced thing about this car are its emissions numbers. Putting together the whole package was hard-getting the cats set, making it cold start properly.” Ford helped design catalysts with the proper thermal profiles that would last for 100,000 miles. Don’t forget that Saleen is not just a tuning outfit, but a certified manufacturer of proprietary models which must meet manufacturer requirements for emissions and longevity. In this case, the warranty on drivetrain parts is seven years or 70,000 miles. That’s a lot to ask of a small company, but they do it to the letter.

The S-351 is equipped as standard with 18-inch wheels made on Saleen-owned tools by Speedline in Italy. Standard issue for those five-spoke 18 inch rims (8.5″ front and rear) are BFG Comp T/As size 245/40 ZR 18. But a wise option for the 500 hp supercharged S-351 is the optional Michelin Pilot MXX3, which ups skidpad performance to .94g. Front tires remain bump up to 265/35s, while rears increase to 295/35s on wider-than-stock 10 inch wide rims. This option adds $1375 to the coupe’s base price of $54,355. The convertible, called the “Speedster,” costs an extra $4,000. When I asked Saleen if Porsche had any problems with him using the name “Speedster,” he replied “absolutely not,” continuing: “In fact we ourselves have all kinds of problems with people copying our names and products. Especially Racecraft parts.”

Steve Saleen stresses that his company makes and owns all their tools, dies and molds. They may subcontract companies like Speedline to fabricate parts, but the engineering and tooling belong to Saleen, insuring that the company maintains strict control over the design of every part on a project Mustang. The composite hood, for example, and all the dramatically revised bits (urethane front fascia, side skirts, rear fascia, wing and taillight panel) are the sole inspiration of Saleen, who has long been responsible for his idiosyncratic aero-look. Once the molds are prepared in the Saleen shops, the parts are farmed out to various concerns, mostly in Orange County and Southern California, for construction.

Whether or not the parts are self-made or not is irrelevant. There are, after all, more than 2000 changes in part specification from the Ford-built Mustang to the S-351, and one could hardly expect such a sea-change in design to be accomplished in house. Rather, Saleen’s strength seems to be in his ability to subcontract with exemplary vendors like AER and Speedline to get just what he wants, when he needs it, for his project cars. The efficiency of Saleen’s operation can be judged by the fact that construction of an S-351 takes only two weeks from start to finish. Saleen plans on building 40 or 50 this year, plus 75 of the less powerful S-281 modular block Mustangs. Add a few dozen Explorers into the mix, and you’ve got plenty to keep those 30 employees hopping annually.

So the question here is not so much who makes the parts but how well they work together in the S-351 to produce a memorable sports car. If my one-day test hop in a Saleen Speedster is any indication, you definitely get your money’s worth in the S-351. For about the price of a decently optioned Porsche Boxster or Corvette Convertible, you’ve got a Mustang that will run circles around either of those competitors. Saleen’s entire premise for this supercharged Mustang was to build the fastest accelerating car sold in America through normal dealer channels. Since the S-351 is available through a network of 70 separate dealers, you can buy this car almost anywhere in the USA. And since the S-351 will crank consistent 12.6s in the quarter mile at 120-125mph, you can also call it the fastest accelerating production car available through conventional dealer channels. The Viper comes close, but Saleen feels his Mustang owns the edge over the substantially more expensive, marginally slower Viper.

Finished in white with black graphics and interior, ’98 Saleen Speedster SN 98000 112 983 came off the assembly line in October 1997. The most noticeable aspect of the convertible package is the fluted slipstream-style Speedster hard-shell tonneau. This combing covers the area behind the front seats with a twin headrest nacelle that feeds into the cockpit via a Corvette-like waterfall between the front seats. The tonneau reduces interior wind noise to an entirely acceptable level for long periods of top-down driving.

Saleen has replaced the indifferent Mustang front seats with a pair of splendid sports seats that proved the perfect match for long distance driving. Finished in a nubby black fabric, and embroidered on the headrest “Saleen by Recaro,” these buckets support your thighs, lower back and shoulders. They enable you to remain planted during G-loaded maneuvers without resorting to a death grip on the steering wheel. Both the wheel and the shift-knob sport striking carbon fiber inserts. The upper and lower strand bands on the face of the wheel are a bit disconcerting at first, but feel better upon longer acquaintance. Both doors feature white plastic inserts beneath the window and door lock controls. These panels dovetail nicely with the design and color of the Speedster tonneau.

news_1998_02_scim_s351
1998 S351 Speedster

Proper instrumentation is a strong point of the S-351, with highly legible white faced gauges that include the expected (fuel, ammeter) and the unexpected (oil temp, 200 mph speedo recalibrated by Phillips). That redone speedo isn’t optimistic by much, as the S-351 will post 172 mph in top gear at redline of 5700 rpm. There’s also a fuel pressure gauge and a boost gauge contained in a central pod appended, Shelby-Mustang style, to the top of the dash surface. Unless you’re well into the vices of the Vortec, the boost dial reads in the negative (at about -15 HgPSI). Although Saleen says maximum boost will reach +8 on occasion, the most I saw on the gauge was +6 PSI. Fuel pressure to those 36 Ib/hr injectors ranged from 35 psi at idle to 45 psi at full boost. The redone dash presents a comforting rest stop on the information super highway.

Steering is rather heavily boosted for a sports car, but still offers good positional feedback. Compared to the in-your-ear communication level of the new Porsche 996’s steering, the yakety-yak Saleen rates about a seven on a ten-scale. Shifting the ergonomic Momo knob was usually a positive experience, with short, decisive throws between gears. Early in the game, though, I missed the fourth to third downshift and selected first (didn’t let the clutch out, Steve) then slid over to fifth (did let the clutch out). For awhile, that fluff appeared to be an anomaly until the incident repeated itself several more times during the course of the day. Either the slots for 1-2 and 5-6 are too close to the 3-4 gate, or I’m a ham-fist when it comes to the T-56 tranny. But be forewarned, this may happen to you, so tread lightly before you drop the clutch.

The level of adhesion in cornering is so high that when you finally lose control of this car, you’re bound to be in for a very serious incident. Surfing the apexes on Ortega Highway between San Juan Capistrano and Lake Elsinore, I came to trust implicitly the instincts of this admittedly heavy cruiser. Despite its weight of 3378 pounds, the S-351 felt more nimble than a Corvette in turns. Certainly the ride of the Saleen has a leg up on the C5 Vette, and with the optional Michelin steamrollers, you have to do something really stupid to loop this car. The four-pot front binders snag the Speedster every bit as quick as the spec sheet promises they will. I never came close to smoking the pie-plate brakes in my enforced death march over Ortega summit. Structural rigidity proved surprisingly good with the top down, and I never once heard a squeak or groan from the dash or felt a shudder through the steering wheel. The wingfoil-shaped black padded roll bar behind your head gives an added boost to your confidence level when driving hard.

But let’s face it, nobody buys this car for the brakes, the seats, the roll bar, or even the outrageous looks. Well, maybe some do sucker for those looks, but the majority of customers willing to pay $60,000 for a car that started life at $30,000 do so for the promise of unbridled speed. And that’s just what they get with this one. So what’s it like to uncork 495 horses stabled under the composite hood of just one ponycar? It’s like spinning the rheostat to max revs on a Dremel MotoTool. Your ears buzz, your teeth chatter, and your head buries itself in the gilt embroidery of that Recaro headrest. Before I left the Irvine shop, I asked Saleenwhether the ignition system was equipped with an electronic cut-out at redline of 5700rpm. He confirmed that it was, but then mentioned that he hoped I wouldn’t go finding it very often.

Well, it’s just about impossible to squirt this car in any gear without slamming up against that rev-limiter instantaneously. That’s because the T-56’s gears are spaced relatively closely, and a blast on the throttle in any gear save sixth puts you into the red on the tech so fast you barely have time to slam the lever into the next slot. The Vortec supercharger harnesses and magnifies the already abundant torque of the 5.8 liter Mustang V8 so quickly that keeping up with its sprints to redline is like chasing mercury balls around a tile floor. This kind of performance in first or second gear might be expected, but what really sets you on your duff is the relentless surge in the upper gears. Be sure your cleared for takeoff before pinning back the ears of a supercharged Saleen.

If this isn’t a Boss Mustang, I don’t know what is. And if Steve Saleen isn’t the Mustang Boss, I don’t know who is. He’s covering so much of the same ground that Carroll Shelby tilled in the ’60s that comparisons between the two men are inevitable. Like Shelby in years past, Saleen is coming off a good showing (2nd place in GT2) at this year’s Sebring 12 hour endurance race. Like Shelby in his day, Saleen too went to Le Mans last year and acquitted himself well. And like Shelby, Saleen has had notable successes in winning manufacturer’s championships for himself and Ford. In fact, the pride-of-place podium in Saleen’s Irvine lobby currently displays an SCCA Manufacturer’s trophy won by Lou Gigliotti aboard a Saleen Mustang. And this year, Saleen, like Shelby before him, announced a rental car tie-in to make his Mustang available to the masses. For only $89 a day, you can rent a mod-block S-281 from Thrifty. When I asked Saleen whether his rent-a-racers would be black with gold stripes, a la Shelby’s Hertz GT350s, he just smiled impishly.

But the historical connection between Saleen and Shelby, both Ford loyalists to the end, bears further investigation. It’s rare to get a second chance to do anything you missed the first time around. So if you passed up that GT350 back in the ’60s, here’s your chance to rectify your mistake in the ’90s. Because the S-351 is nothing short of the same crazy horse, born again some 30 years down the road.