Tag Archives: S351

SCALE REPLICA OF 95-0010 MYSTIC S351 SPEEDSTER

From our friend Gil Costa.

1995 Ford Mustang “Mystic” Saleen S351 Speedster

This model represents a “one off” promotional 1995 Mustang Saleen S351 Speedster which was specially created to promote Ford’s new “Mystic” color changing paint and cosponsored by BASF. The finish was accomplished with the use of single stage urethane touchup paint and clear coated with Tamiya TS13. Interior was flocked and dry-brushed. Engine was wired and antennae was added. Undercarriage and engine was detailed with varying shades of metalyzer and alcad paints. A wash was also added to accentuate engine detail and body panels.

[Source: Scale Auto Magazine]

KEVIN HEFFERNAN’S COMPETITION S351 READY FOR GT-P NATION’S CUP SERIES

By: MICHAEL KNOWLING, Pictures: JULIAN EDGAR
Original Article: AUTOSPEED.COM

Ride ’em Cowboy

A Y2K Mustang that’s been breathed on by Saleen to the tune of over 450hp and then fully prep’d for GT-P Nation’s Cup series. Yep, this bucking horse is a real traditional-routes type circuit racer…

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

In a racing world that’s becoming increasingly filled with turbocharged, multivalve, DOHC techno screamers, it’s nice to occasionally see a traditional style grunter out there on the starting grid. Amidst a field of Porsches, Ferraris, a supercharged NSX and a Diablo SVR, Kevin Heffernan’s Ford Mustang is a real standout attraction in the Nation’s Cup series, the elite GT-P class exclusive to high performance exotic cars. This wild horse doesn’t pretend to combine the very best modern suspension design with the most efficient engine – it’s a big thumper of a fast car and that’s that!

Kevin Heffernan’s an experienced tin-top racer, having started off with Minis when he was barely 15, then moving onto a Gemini, Group C Commodore, VL Group A and, finally, VP and VS V8 Touring cars. His decision to step over to GT-P Nation’s Cup series for this year was heavily swayed by the relatively high level of television coverage there is per dollar. We spoke to Kevin at the 2000 Adelaide Clipsal 500 just before the Mustang’s very first competitive outing in the newly formed Nation’s Cup series.

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

Carrying over his existing primary financial backing from Price Attack, Kevin recalls choosing the right car. “A Porsche was out of the question and a Corvette with all the jewellery wasn’t in my direction – but I still wanted a muscle car. Something a bit different.” The rulebook says you must have a manufacturer’s car, which can be tuned by their in-house high performance divisions – but it definitely cannot be just an aftermarket job. So it was the Ford-backed Saleen Mustang that won the ticket. After preparing freight and all the paper work to have a brand-spankers car brought over from the US, it arrived on the wharf like an unclaimed baby. An $84,000 baby.

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

So what exactly is a Saleen Mustang? It’s a US package available to upgrade the average Mustang. And believe it or not, this car left the Santa Margarita Ford dealership powered by a mere six pot – now look at it! It came back from Saleen pepped up with a Vortech V1 supercharged 351 that’s packed with forged pistons, high performance alloy heads, roller rockers, hydraulic roller cam and lifters, Saleen upper and lower intake manifold sections and a 65mm throttle body. A high volume fuel pump and larger injectors are used for the fuel delivery side of things – incidentally, no high octane race fuel is allowed in the Nation’s Cup. Everyday PULP is the regulation brew.

These good bits combine to give “what they say in America is 495hp”, but this one’s actually been dyno’d here at 460 horses. However, it varies slightly from the usual Saleen spec sheet by having a MoTeC M8 programmable management system, which has seen the Saleen 80mm airflow meter replaced by a MAP sensor.

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

The reason for the conversion is that “the MoTeC is more usable here (in Australia) and there’s limited local knowledge about Saleen system,” says Kevin. And other than that, the only other mechanical change post-Saleen is to the exhaust, which is carried on from their beautiful ceramic coated extractors. Having to comply with a regulation noise limit, a dual 3 inch exhaust system is muffled by four custom mufflers (no cats are required).

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

The driveline was beefed up by Saleen through the fitment of a 6-speed Borg Warner gearbox (complete with a short shifter), high performance clutch and pressure plate, custom “whopper” tailshaft and a Detroit 3.27:1 locker diff. Eighteen inch Saleen rims and a full body kit rounded out the cosmetic department. An aluminium radiator and an oil cooler were also fitted at Saleen as calculated safety measures – but the latter has since been beefed up in capacity given the car’s 100% racing role.

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

With the massive Saleen upgrade fitted to the shiny new red Mustang, the Aussie guys then focussed on taking it that little step further. Making it a racecar. The factory suspension design was brought up to level with a Proflex fully adjustable combo. This gives 3 way (slow bump, fast bump and rebound) adjustable dampers complete with external reservoirs and coil springs only slightly softer than those in the V8 Tourers. Kevin chose the Proflex product safe in the knowledge that they’ve performed very well on his Touring Car, his wife Carol’s GT-P (Class E) Honda Civic VTi-R and even a hottie Monaro. Interestingly, he says that the overall suspension set-up of the Mustang actually feels similar to a V8 Touring Car.

After only a couple of brief familiarization laps, he says the car feels workable and has great turn-in – but it does lack a bit mid-corner. “There seems to be a geometry problem in the centre of the corner – which maybe probably something to do with the steering.” Unfortunately, at this early stage, not very much fine-tuning has been able to be done – the car’s barely finished being assembled. But all the right ingredients are there for a good result.

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen MustangKevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

Braking wise, the Mustang holds onto its 4-pot Alcon/Saleen calipers, but the front discs are now up-sized substantially to 14 inches. Gone too are the Ford rear discs, and in their place are 4-pot Brembos biting 13 inch discs. No ABS is fitted. The heavily worked fronts are helped by a pair of fat convoluted ducts that feed cooling air to the eye of the hubs. And another indication that the car is harsh on the front brakes is reflected in the selection of front-to-rear pad materials. Pagid 14s go on the front and cooler temp 9s go on the back. The rules state that normal rubber brake hoses must be kept in service, however fluid is free. This car uses proven Castrol SRF.

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

The ‘Stang is technically allowed to have 18×9 rims at the front and 18x10s at the rear, but it makes do with Saleen 18 by 9s all ’round. “It’s not so bad,” says Kevin, “you don’t really notice the difference.” There’s no control tyre used in Nation’s Cup and Kevin was free to go for Michelin 270/65 slicks all ’round. And, like brake fade, Kevin was unsure if high temperature wear of these soft rubbers was going to be a problem. “It is a bit heavy,” he comes back to once again.

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

Inside the car, there are also regulations that have to be met. A car must retain its full interior, with the exception of the door trims (which enables the installation of a roll cage). The rear seat (if factory fitted) must also be retained. Virtually anything else can go. Kevin’s removed the factory airbags, stereo and the air conditioning system (there’s no compressor or any other part left). The heater is still hooked up for demisting purposes though. Things that went into the cockpit include a Saleen steering wheel (unfortunately there’s no non-airbag boss available) and Saleen knob, drilled pedals, fire extinguisher and a battery kill switch. A data logger (mainly for revs and boost) is also installed so that the scrutineers can keep an eye on what competitors are doing.

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

For added safety inside the Mustang, there’s a Sparco carbon-fibre driver’s seat and a Velo passenger’s pew, plus a Willans harness for each. A full chrome-moly cage protects the whole cabin. Oh, and being from the US, it’s left hand drive too!

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

So how’s the big bill looking now? Well, add about another 20-30 grand and that’d be about right – bringing the grand total up to $104,000-114,000! More than most people’s piggy bank can hold, that’s for sure. Plus then there’s the expense of a huge team truck, racing fees and charges and maintaining the car. Here we’re talking tyres, fuel, pads, etc. In terms of spares, Kevin has only a windscreen, two axles and some replacement lower control arms. He does plan on getting some more parts behind him though, but at the moment there’s a possibility Ford Australia might decide to bring in guards.

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

So you can see why sponsorship is so important. Cost is a killer. It’s actually Price Attack and various other sponsors that really own the car, truck and equipment. And, of course, sponsors want to see their products being paraded around on a top lookin’ car. The Mustang keeps its factory red paint work but it’s now crazed by crisscrossed silver pin-striping, sponsor logos and a black/yellow bonnet.

Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang
Kevin Heffernan’s S351 Saleen Mustang

So if Price Attack owns just about everything, what’s Kevin’s position? He’s the mechanic, truck driver and race driver – that’s what! He’s a very dedicated man. But he’s up against some tough opposition in the Nation’s Cup series. As he puts it, “The Porsches are breeding like rabbits and there’s some incredible cars here.” And when we asked him where on the track he’d like to be running, he jovially replied “hopefully just running on the track!” Kevin’s not expecting to be an outright contender – not just yet anyhow. The near future will see the team develop improved handling, more hp and solve a chronic fuel starvation problem.

Footnote:
While running at the Clipsal Adelaide 500, the Mustang was forced to retire due to it “melting a couple of pistons”. The cause is thought to be related to that dreaded fuel surge, or excessive combustion temps. Either way, Kevin says they’ll probably miss the next round, but they’re aiming to be back for Canberra. That’s racing.

[Source: autospeed]

KEVIN HEFFERNAN MAKES BID FOR GTP NATIONS CUP WITH SALEEN MUSTANG

On February 23, 2000 at 11:45 PM
Original Article: MOTORSPORT.COM

Another hot contender for the new Century Batteries GTP Nations Cup motor racing series has been confirmed with the launch of a supercharged Saleen Ford Mustang for former V8 privateer Kevin Heffernan.

Heffernan unveiled the car at the Gold Coast this week, featuring the familiar red and white livery of his long-time sponsor, hair-care retail group Price Attack. Fudge hair products will provide additional sponsorship .

The Mustang is one of around 25 ultra-high performance production GT cars that series organizer PROCAR Australia expects to have on the grid for the first round in Adelaide on April 9th.

Others include Monarch Motors’ Lamborghini Diablo SVR, which will arrive from Italy this week for driver Paul Stokell, four new competition-specification V10 Dodge Vipers and a Jaguar XK-R under construction in the United States for Queenslanders Mark Trenoweth and Bob Thorn.

Two Porsche 911 GT3s, a Ferrari F360 Modena Challenge, a Chevrolet Corvette C5 and a Toyota Supra RZ already have competed in pre-season races.

Heffernan is confident the Price Attack Mustang, bought new from a California Ford dealer, is a potential front-runner.

“It should have around 500 horsepower and our racing weight will be 1425 kg. It’s got a six-speed gearbox, four-spot front brake calipers and has been ordered with the optional 18 x 9 and 18 x 10 wheels,” he said.

Heffernan mentioned he was looking forward to the eight-round series, which will feature some of the world’s fastest and most desirable production cars. “We thought Nations Cup would be able to give us a good television package for our sponsors.” He continued, “I still love V8 touring cars, but I don’t think we’re stepping back from them so much as side-stepping into an elite car market. I think the fans will relate strongly to a name like Ford Mustang.”

GTP Nations Cup manager Steve Bettes has been advising Andy Kritikos, of AKG Motorsport, in Zion, Illinois, on the specifications required to build Trenoweth’s Jaguar supercharged V8 coupe.

[Source: motorsport.com]

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

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.

MOTOR TREND: 1998 S351 ROAD TEST REVIEW

Car Reviews
Tuners: 1998 Saleen S351

By: JOHN PEARLEY HUFFMAN on May 02, 1998
Original Article: MOTOR TREND

1998 Saleen S351 - Motor Trend
1998 Saleen S351 – Motor Trend

Saleen’s supercharged S351 Mustang would be inexcusable if it weren’t so fast. It’s a fiend with so much brute torque the driver feels as if he could pull both the Titanic and the ocean floor beneath it up out of the North Atlantic. Through corners, it’s as effective and subtle as a leopard clamping his jaw down on a zebra’s femur. The S351 is for fanatics-those few people with $60K to spend who value sheer performance over sophistication, comfort, or the prestige of a luxury nameplate (and who just have to have a Mustang).

Saleen is a small-volume manufacturer, not a tuner, and the S351 is almost a completely un-Ford Mustang. Saleen starts with a base Mustang, rips out the V-6, and replaces it with a version of Ford’s venerable 351-cubic-inch (5.8-liter) OHV V-8. Using TFS “twisted wedge” aluminum heads, the intake manifold from the old Lightning pickup, and a Vortech centrifugal supercharger produces, Saleen claims, 495 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 490 pound-feet of torque at 4500 rpm. Behind that is the Dodge Viper’s Borg-Warner T56 six-speed transmission, and the rearend is packed with a hydraulic Gerodisc differential. The brakes are upgraded to 13-inch-diameter Alcons up front, and the suspension is lowered over a set of 18-inch five-spoke wheels wearing P245/40ZR18 front and P295/35ZR18 rear Michelin Pilot SX tires. The interior gets leather Recaro front seats, white-face gauges (including a 200-mph speedo and a dashtop boost gauge), and body-color trim.

1998 Saleen S351 - Motor Trend
1998 Saleen S351 – Motor Trend

Saleen has done Mustangs long enough to know and apply every trick and subtlety from front camber adjustment plates through a composite hood and on to beefed lower rear control arms. Despite hellacious power, the S351’s chassis is never overwhelmed, which, considering the Mustang’s basic architecture, is amazing. That simple structure does, however, transmit tire noise into the passenger compartment, and bumps aren’t something the suspension subdues peacefully.

Handling is remarkably neutral, and the limits are very high. The rabid blitz through the slalom averaged 70.8 mph, faster than every production car but the Viper GTS, Ferrari F355, and Porsche 911 Turbo. While much credit goes to the splendid Michelins, the differential is equally impressive. The distribution of torque is managed so that the rear end remains composed through every transition and stays planted under acceleration. Unfortunately, by the end of its stay with us, that diff was slipping.

1998 Saleen S351 - Motor Trend
1998 Saleen S351 – Motor Trend

It takes two hands to select reverse in the short-throw shifter and the throttle travel is abrupt for casual cruising about town, but on the track it’s magic. Launched modestly, the S351 ingested the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds at 116.8 mph and barged to 60 in 4.6 seconds. It’s Ferrari-level performance that challenges even the venomous Viper GTS. But it takes a steady hand to extract it.

Even the barbaric Viper, though, seems a garden snake compared to the Saleen’s rude steed. Civilized buyers need not apply.

1998 Saleen S351 Mustang
Base price $56,990
Price as tested $60,000 (est.)
ACCELERATION
0-30 mph 2.1
0-40 mph 3.1
0-50 mph 3.9
0-60 mph 4.6
0-70 mph 5.9
0-80 mph 7.0
0-90 mph 8.3
0-100 mph 10.1
Quarter mile, sec/mph 12.9/116.8
Braking, 60-0 mph, ft 112
Slalom, 600-ft, mph 70.8
Skidpad, 200-ft, lateral g 0.92

[Source: Motor Trend Magazine]

SALEEN S351: PONY EXPRESS

By: PARNELLI JONES on September 23, 1996
Original Article: FORBES FYI, VOL. 158, ISSUE 7

The Saleen Mustang may be street legal, but it feels every inch a race car

I HAD BEEN AT INDIANAPOLIS FOR THE 500. It’s always a great week down on pit row, or sitting up there in the stands watching time trials. But if you’re an old racer like me, you start to get the itch to be out on the track yourself. People still ask me how it feels tearing down that straightaway and into Turn One at Indy, and I always tell them the most apt description I ever heard: it’s like driving down the street at 200 miles an hour and turning left into your driveway. Not for everybody,! suppose. But, for me, a great feeling.

The itch was still pretty bad when! got home to Los Angeles. And that’s when I got a call asking if I’d like to drive up to the Willow Springs race track out near Mojave and try out the new Saleen Mustang on a closed course. It’s a pretty safe track since there’s not much to hit in the desert except sagebrush if you go off the asphalt. Sounded like just the cure to me.

The Saleen Mustang is named after Steve Saleen, himself a former race driver who went on to become a team owner and builder. So he knows something about the serious driver. The car he builds is so tough and fast, even George Foreman has one.

So, what’s a Saleen? Well, basically Steve’s company orders a select number of stock Mustang GT 5.0s each year from the Dearborn plant where they’re made. Then a team of technicians takes each car apart, throwing a lot of the factory parts away and installing custom replacements. Changing one of these Ponies over from top to bottom takes about 120 hours. They’ll add a new camshaft, cylinder heads and intake manifold to the engine, for example. And by the time they’re done, it’s about 75% more powerful than the car that left the Ford factory. (Since they upped the power to about 150 hp, they had to add a new speedometer as well; the new one goes up to 200 mph.)

It was about 103 degrees the day I got out to Willow Springs, two hours north of L.A. I used to run the course years ago, and I also used to scramble trucks and dirt bikes up in the hills around the track, so I know the area pretty well. It’s real scrub country out that way, but I love it.

When I got behind the wheel of the Saleen, the car sure didn’t look or feel like your basic Five-Oh anymore. They’ve added Recaro racing seats–real buckets–that are comfortable and come up high along your butt so you really feel supported in the car. The gear shift has a closer ratio, and the gauge cluster on the dash has a white background that is easier to read than the usual black.

Now, whenever you test a new car it’s always a good idea to inch your way up to speed little by little. So I hit the track at about 100 mph, and then started concentrating on going fast.

Saleen has changed a lot more on this car than just the engine. (Each car is so altered from the machines that come out of the factory, in fact, that Saleen is legally registered as a manufacturer.) The chassis has been pretty well tuned up, and they’ve replaced the springs and struts. They’ve added a sway bar, side skirts, and a rear wing and front spoiler, so at 120 to 130 the ground effects combine to provide good stability on the track. None of the slipping and sliding you’d expect from a street vehicle.

The Willow Springs track has got one long high-speed corner just before you pass the pit area on the straightaway, and it’s in high-speed corners that a car’s true colors will come out (and this car comes in quite a few crazy colors). A lot of people don’t know that handling high-speed curves is the toughest job a race driver has. In fact, they think driving an oval course is just “going around in Circles.” But nothing could be more wrong. Tight, slow curves might look more dramatic because the driver is throwing the car all over the place, but in a high-speed curve you’ve got to hold the car out there on the edge. You make any mistakes and you won’t be easily forgiven. And that’s where the Saleen came through. The model I drove was a 35I, so it had a lot of torque to begin with, and the supercharger gave it even more top end. The harder! got on it, the better it handled.

Coming to the end of that high-speed turn at 110 mph, I down-shifted into third. The gear was a little hard to find–my one complaint about the car–but when I tapped the brakes I knew right away that they were better than anything that came with the Ford stock package. Much better. Saleen will install four-piston calipers with 13-inch disks. Plus, they’ve added big 18-inch wheels and ram-air intakes, which means you get much-needed cooling on each wheel.

All in all, Saleen has put a lot of thought into the car, and it’s really fun to drive. You look at the price range it falls into and, well, it may sound high, but considering what you get it’s not out of sight. There are two basic packages: the 281 engine that starts at about ,29,000, and the 351 engine, the one I drove, for about $43,000. Add-ons here and there can put the price up over *50,000, but to a lot of folks it’ll be worth it, and they’re the same folks who won’t mind putting premium fuel in every trip to the gas station.

You know, race cars are built strictly for that: racing. They’re too ugly to run on the street. The beauty of the Saleen is that it feels like a race car, but once you throttle back it becomes a street car again, smartly laid out and quiet inside. In fact, when I came off the track at Willow Springs, I cranked up the radio and the air conditioning and was ready to head home on the freeway.

But then I decided that I wasn’t quite ready.! had spent the afternoon going clockwise around the track, and since there was plenty of daylight left, I thought I’d spend a little time doing counterclockwise laps. Driving backwards; it’s just another one of those itches some old racers get from time to time.

For dealers: 800-SALEEN-4; or hook up on the ‘Net at www. saleen.com.

MOTOR TREND: 1996 S351 ROAD TEST REVIEW

Car Reviews
A Thundering, Plundering, Viper-Eating Monstrosity

Writer: JEFF KARR; Photographer WESLEY ALLISON on April 02, 1996
Original Article: MOTOR TREND

For the first four seconds, you feel like you’re at the wheel of a dragster with a stuck throttle in a giant pan of cooking oil. Slipping and sluing, the tach builds revs in a needle-blurring burst through first gear, then second. Your toes curl around the top of the gas pedal, trying to feel for traction that isn’t there. You’ve backed off to half throttle, yet both double-wide rear Dunlops churn in a fog of rubber smoke.

Then at about 60 mph, the shift to third puts things right. Finally, the available grip can absorb most of this car’s horsepower. Pulling through 4000 rpm, the pancreas-flattening rush is awesome. Fourth gear is even better. The g’s barely diminished by the rising aerodynamic loads, you’re pinned to the Recaro seatback more forcefully than in anything short of an F-15 in full climb.

Just when you’re ready to scream, through 5500 rpm, the power begins to flatten, but there’s no point in going for fifth this close to the end of the quarter mile. Before you can ponder this any further, you’re shooting past the finish on the high side of 120 mph, then standing hard on the brakes.

You can inhale now. The timing gear displays a 119.3-mph quarter-mile terminal speed, a number that’s difficult to relate to the performance range of normal cars. Muscular production cars, like the Corvette, just crest 100 mph in the quarter mile; really fast ones, like Porsche’s 911 Turbo, can even exceed 110. But tripping the lights at close to 120 mph is a whole other level of thrill. To a driver seasoned in conventional cars, it creates a sensation akin to teleportation. It’s a feeling to which Saleen S351 R drivers first become acclimated, then addicted.

The R-Code Saleen S351 is far from a conventional car, even though it’s based on a production Mustang. Steve Saleen likes it that way. This is a real production vehicle, not a one-off. And you can order one through any Ford dealer, or see it at any of the 75 Team Saleen Ford dealerships that keep the model in stock. Each is an emissions-certified vehicle as easy to buy as an Escort, albeit for a lot more money.

Performance is the single standout feature here. And that’s been Saleen’s obsession since he began tinkering in earnest with Ford’s ponycar in 1984. Today his company offers three different models. On the bottom end is the S281 (coupe, convertible, or Speedster), a modest evolution of the new modular-engined Mustang GT. The next step up is the S351 (around since late ’94), which adds a 5.8-liter/371-horsepower OHV V-8 engine to the mix, among a host of other performance and cosmetic items. Slap the R-Code option on that puppy, and horsepower jumps to a peak of 480. At the pinnacle of the line is the SR, which gives you all the R-Code S351 stuff and less. Less back seat, less cushy civility, and most of all, less weight. Roughly 300 pounds lighter, the SR is the strongest performer in the Saleen line; however, in our estimation it’s too stripped down to serve as a daily driver.

That task is left to the far more civilized S351 R. It begins life as a humble ’96 Mustang V-6, direct from FoMoCo. The unused V-6 is popped out and sold back to Ford, and a Saleen-engineered Ford 351 is dropped in. It breathes through a cast-aluminum manifold and is fed by sequential fuel injection. Saleen-spec TFS aluminum heads cap the iron Ford block. A hydraulic roller cam and roller rockers help cut friction; exhaust is ushered overboard via ceramic-coated headers, stainless converters and exhaust, then finally through a pair of Borla 2.5-inch mufflers. The 351 is mated with a heavy-duty clutch, a Tremec five-speed manual transmission, a special drive shaft, and a heavy-duty rearend with 3.55:1 gearing.

Chassis changes are all-encompassing. Additional structural bracing delivers better chassis rigidity and in turn, wheel control. Saleen/Racecraft struts go up front and mount to adjustable camber/caster plates to allow for new alignment and setup specs. A huge 1.4-inch-diameter front anti-roll bar is fitted, and it rides on firm urethane pivot bushings to further tighten body-roll characteristics.

The Mustang’s live-axle rear suspension carries on with the help of Saleen’s quad-shock system, and another sausage-thick anti-roll bar. Ride height is dropped significantly with the addition of variable-rate coil springs at all four corners. Finally, a set of Saleen-designed 18-inch Speedline magnesium wheels are bolted in place.

On the outside, Saleen wraps the Mustang in new front and rear fascias, bodyside cladding, and a rear wing-which in our experience, combine to create more thumbs-up approval from passers-by than free Duff Beer. The Saleen exudes toughness, without the elitist overtones of the European exotics that approach its performance.

1996 Saleen S351
1996 Saleen S351

The S351 is priced at $42,990. Come forth with another $6244, and you can ante up to the R-Code Package of our test car. Lift the hood of an R-car, and you’ll be greeted by a beautifully polished aluminum Vortech belt-driven supercharger that pumps an extra 109 horsepower out of the engine. Normally aspirated, peak horsepower is 371 at 5100 rpm; with the pressure on, you’re looking at 480 horses at 5500 rpm. Torque is similarly enhanced, swelling from 422 pound-feet to 487 at 3600 rpm. Other R-Code delights include recalibrated engine management electronics and pizza-size 13-inch front brake rotors clenched by huge four-piston calipers.

Settle into the firmly supportive Recaro driver’s seat and turn the key, and the car rocks harder than a Northridge condo sitting squarely on a fault line. But tip into the throttle even a little, and the engine smoothes instantly.

Don’t let this taste of civility mislead, however. Even with only 2000 rpm registering on the tach, a sudden stab of half throttle will fling your Slurpee clear into the back seat. Boost arrives progressively, but by 3000 rpm or so, the intensity of the power delivery demands your full attention. Experience in tamer cars such as the Dodge Viper or Corvette Grand Sport won’t fully prepare you for what this Saleen has to offer.

Nor will they ready you for the Saleen’s race-car-spec handling. With firm spring rates balanced by specially nitrogen-charged dampers, the S351 R has a stiff-legged ride. Stiff, but not often abusive. Snap it into a corner, and the S351 R turns in progressively, staying slot-car flat all the while. The Saleen’s chassis is balanced toward a hint of understeer, which can be teased away with the always accessible power. Squeeze on more, and you can transition to glorious tire-burning, teen-cheering oversteer.

Our slalom testing confirmed the Saleen’s remarkably good transient handling-and sheer speed-with a best run of 69.7 mph. If not for having to test at a track with less grip than our usual venue, it likely would have broken into the 70-mph range. The same slippery, weathered pavement netted a mediocre 0.89 lateral g reading on the skidpad and an unremarkable 127-foot stop from 60 mph. With better test conditions, we expect the S351 R’s figures would improve substantially.

The same goes for acceleration numbers: Tippy-toeing off the line, we were able to get the Saleen down to 5.2 seconds 0-60 mph-only a bit better than the last ’96 Mustang Cobra (5.5 seconds) we tested at another facility, and slower than our recent 5.0-second run in a Viper also tested elsewhere. The Saleen’s quarter-mile elapsed time was 13.4 seconds-0.2 second behind the Viper, but almost a second ahead of the Cobra.

The most telling figure is the Saleen’s terminal speed, which is relatively unaffected by low grip off the line. At 119.3 mph, the S351 R is the fastest production street car (not a tuner special) Motor Trend has ever tested in the quarter mile, outrunning even the Saleen SR prototype we drove last year. At the quarter-mile mark, the Saleen pulls away smartly from the 113.4-mph Viper, and accelerates away from the Mustang Cobra at a rate of 17.6 mph-like Carl Lewis at a full run.

That’s teleportation. That’s the Saleen S351 R.

TECH DATA
Saleen Mustang S351 R
General
Manufacturer Saleen Productions, Inc.,
Irvine, California
Location of final assembly plant Irvine, California
EPA size class Subcompact
Body style 2-door, 4-passenger
Drivetrain layout Front engine, rear drive
Airbag Dual
Base price $42,990
Price as tested $49,879
Options included Supercharger R -Code Package, $6244;
B-pillar chassis brace, $345
Ancillary charges Destination, $300
Typical market competition Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SS,
Corvette Grand Sport, Pontiac Trans Am WS6
Dimensions
Wheelbase, in./mm 101.3/2572
Track, f/r, in./mm 61.6/60.7/1565/1542
Length, in./mm 182.0/4623
Width, in./mm 71.8/1824
Height, in./mm 50.1/1273
Ground clearance, in./mm 3.0/76.2 (est. )
Manufacturer’s base curb weight, lb 3375
Weight distribution, f/r, % 58/42
Cargo capacity, cu ft 10.8
Fuel capacity, gal 15.4
Weight/power ratio, lb/hp 7.0
Engine
Type 90° V-8, liquid-cooled, cast-iron block,
cast-aluminum heads
Bore x stroke, in./mm 4.0 x 3.5
101.6 x 88.9
Displacement, ci/cc 351/5752
Compression ratio 8.8:1
Valve gear OHV, 2 valves/cylinder
Fuel/induction system Sequential EFI, supercharged
Horsepower
hp @ rpm, SAE net 480 @ 5500
Torque
lb-ft @ rpm, SAE net 487 @ 3600
Horsepower/liter 83.5
Redline, rpm 5750
Recommended fuel Premium unleaded
Driveline
Transmission type 5-speed manual
Gear ratios
(1st) 3.27:1
(2nd) 1.98:1
(3rd) 1.34:1
(4th) 1.00:1
(5th) 0.68:1
Axle ratio 3.55:1
Final drive ratio 2.41:1
Engine rpm,
60 mph in top gear 2000
Chassis
Suspension
Front MacPherson struts, lower control arms,
coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear Live axle, four trailing links,
coil springs, anti-roll bar
Steering
Type Rack and pinion, power assist
Ratio 14.7:1
Turns, lock to lock 2.4
Turning circle 38.3
Brakes
Front, type/dia., in. Vented discs/13.0
Rear, type/dia., in. Vented discs/11.7
Anti-lock Standard
Wheels and tires
Wheel size, in. 18 x 8.5/18 x 10.0
Wheel type/material Cast magnesium
Tire size 255/35ZR18/285/35ZR18
Tire mfr. and model Dunlop SP8000
Instrumentation
Instruments 200-mph speedo; 7000-rpm tach;
coolant temp; fuel level;
oil press.; volts;
supercharger boost;
fuel pressure; digital clock
Warning lamps Check engine; battery; brake; belts;
ABS; airbags; low oil
Performance and Test Data
Acceleration, sec
0-30 mph 2.6
0-40 mph 3.7
0-50 mph 4.5
0-60 mph 5.2
0-70 mph 6.6
0-80 mph 7.6
0-90 mph 8.7
0-100 mph 10.5
Standing quarter mile
sec @ mph 13.4 @ 119.3
Braking, ft
30-0 mph 33
60-0 mph 127
Handling
Lateral acceleration, g 0.89
Speed through 600-ft
slalom, mph 69.7
Speedometer error, mph
Indicated Actual
30 29
40 39
50 50
60 60
Fuel Economy
EPA, city/hwy., mpg 15/26
Est. range, city/hwy., miles 231/400
THOUGHTS
Although the blown 5.8-liter V-8 has a loping idle sure to strike fear in stoplight tough guys, it can be as gentle as a pussycat-a 480-horsepower pussycat. Saleen claims a top speed of over 180 mph.
The snug-fit Recaro seats are significantly more bolstered than their stock counterparts. That’s good. But with an as-tested sticker of just over $50,000, this Saleen about doubles the price of a Mustang GT.
Convenience items are standard Mustang fare, which means they work without a fuss. White-face Saleen instrumentation is easy to read in daylight (much less so at night). Fuel pressure and supercharger boost gauges live atop the dash.

[Source: Motor Trend Magazine]

MOTOR TREND: 1994 SALEEN SR ROAD TEST REVIEW

Car Reviews
Just Your Basic 480-Horsepower, Magnesium-Wheeled, Carbon-Fiber-Fortified, Scooped, Spoilered, and Supercharged Mustang

Writer: C. VAN TUNE; Photographer: RANDY LORENTZEN on January 02, 1995
Original Article: MOTOR TREND

It’s as subtle as a 20-megaton bomb in a whoopee cushion. As conventional as Jeffrey Dahmer at a Kiwanis father/son picnic. And about as charming, erudite, and socially responsible as a great white shark in a bloody sea of baby harp seals. Make no mistake, the new Saleen SR is a predator of the highest order: a rapacious, wild-eyed, super-Mustang, purpose-built to feed on the weaknesses of others.

If you’re looking for sensible transportation, look elsewhere. The Saleen SR likes nothing better than to stamp its big steel-toed workboots into the cherubic face of “sensible.” Creator Steve Saleen’s mindset here is one of total world domination-one Corvette, Porsche, or Ferrari at a time. And with a supercharged 5.8-liter Ford V-8 that produces well over twice the horsepower of a new Mustang’s 5.0-liter, this veteran racer/car-constructor’s latest offering is his meanest yet.

Now entering his 11th year of producing modified Mustangs, Saleen dishes up the most vicious ponycar available without a prescription. With a reported 80 more horsepower than the Dodge Viper’s V-10 and 75 more than the Corvette ZR-1’s DOHC V-8, the 480 horses churned out by this pressurized Ford V-8 makes the Saleen SR the most powerful American car sold in dealer showrooms.

Dealer showrooms. That’s the operative phrase here. Saleen’s cars aren’t your typical “aftermarket” buy-by-mail-order concoctions. Rather, this California-based company has been certified by government officials as a “small-volume manufacturer.” Over 3000 Saleen Mustangs have been sold since 1984, and the only way to get a ’95 model is to purchase it from one of the 75 Ford dealers certified as “Team Saleen” members. Each car comes with a full factory warranty and a clean-and-green stamp of low-emissions friendliness.

For ’95, Saleen offers four performance levels of Mustang. The bargain of the group is the V-6 Sport, a muscle-toned insurance-beater. The price for this package is approximately $18,000, but another four grand buys you a Vortech supercharger for the 3.8-liter V-6, a set of ceramic-coated headers, and electronic boost control. With a projected 220 horsepower, performance should at least equal that of the Mustang GT’s 215-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8.

1994 Saleen SR
1994 Saleen SR

Grab the next rung of the performance ladder and clamp down on Saleen’s potent S-351. Stuffed with a 5.8-liter (351-cubic-inch) modified Ford V-8, this $37,000 freeway flyer wears aluminum cylinder heads, a hydraulic roller camshaft, modified upper and lower intake manifold (sectioned and enlarged for improved high-rpm power), a larger-diameter throttle body and mass airflow sensor, higher-flow fuel injectors, ceramic-coated headers, and a low-restriction 2.5-inch-diameter Borla stainless exhaust system. Backed by a well-fortified suspension, 18-inch rolling stock and full-posture bodyshaping, the S-351 is a 371-horsepower gorilla with projected 0-60-mph times in the low 5s.

Pipe a Vortech supercharger onto the intake tract of that angry simian, and prepare to run for your life. Saleen’s literature quotes the mechanicals as being an 8-psi system, but this motor swelled to 11 psi of boost by the recommended 5500-rpm shift point. Dyno sheets from Duttweiler Performance corroborated the internal-combusting muscle living beneath: With 480 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 487 pound-feet of earth-torturing torque at 3600 rpm, the Saleen SR is a nuclear-powered jackhammer-from-hell, capable of pulverizing small-town street toughs into quivering piles of emasculation with just one rap of the throttle. Prices start at $49,990.

An aluminum driveshaft and a four-row radiator are heavy-duty items unique to the SR, but the purpose-built equipment doesn’t stop there. Everywhere you look, touch, or try to sit, Saleen has replaced the “sensible” factory part with an alternate component fashioned by some sort of whacked-out racing groupie. Most of it works quite well.

Regardless of its giant 18×10.0-inch Speedline five-spoke magnesium rear wheels wrapped with juicy 285/35ZR18 Dunlop SP8000 radials, there’s more torque than traction until well past 60 mph. Outfitted with a transplanted Tremec five-speed and tough Auburn Traction Loc rearend with 3.27:1 gearing, the goes-sideways-just-by-looking-at-it Saleen SR requires a talented hand in order to extract 10/10ths performance, but it’s so surprisingly easy to drive at 7/10ths that even Piltdown Man could dust off every new Corvette in town (despite the fact that such a fraud of anthropology couldn’t have properly operated a stick-shift). At a test venue with less than perfect traction, we coaxed the SR from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds and through the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds at 117.0 mph. The last stock Viper we tested ran 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and bludgeoned the quarter mile in 13.2 seconds at 112.1 mph.

Saleen quotes top speed at 186 mph, which is about 40 mph faster than that of a stock Mustang GT. We didn’t get the opportunity to corroborate that claim, but our vintage slide rule attests to the fact such a velocity is technically feasible-albeit careening toward the barrier of mechanical reason given the gearing limitations. Plug in the Viper’s Borg-Warner T56 six-speed, and things could get really interesting.

Slathered in Saleen Racing Yellow paint and affixed with every race-car styling cue created since the era of Ray Harroun’s Marmon Wasp, the SR embodies a look that evokes either mouth-watering stares of wanton lust or scrunched-brow grimaces of dyspepsia. Wearing a carbon-fiber hood with functional air vents, aggressive body side-scoops, and a dual-plane rear wing large enough to lift a vintage Stearman tail-dragger into the sky, this Saleen isn’t a car you’ll easily lose in a Chuck E. Cheese parking lot. The usual assortment of bulging fascias and tape-stripe graphics are included, but you can specify an even more outlandish $5500 “FIA Body Components” option that delivers carbon-fiber laminates in the front fascia, front fenders, and rear deck, plus the fitment of a Lexan rear window. Weight savings for racing use is the obvious sales tactic for this package, though at 3094 pounds, the SR already boasts about 285 pounds less heft than the Saleen S-351.

Part of that weight reduction came from the interior, where an upholstered shelf resides in lieu of a back seat, and thin-shell Recaro racing buckets replace the original Mustang couches. As curvaceous and purposeful as anything you’d find in a Group B rally car, these high-sided body-huggers are, however, nearly unusable by anyone with a wider pelvic girth than that of Macaulay Culkin. Combined with seat tracks that don’t allow enough legroom for six-footers, these pinched-derriere torture chairs diminish much of the car’s long-haul comfort.

The rest of the interior is pretty much standard Mustang in design, except for the addition of boost and fuel-pressure gauges in a dashtop pod (replacing the clock binnacle) and a technoid-looking carbon-fiber shift knob. A four-point chromemoly rollbar (officially referred to as an “internal chassis brace”) is well integrated into the rear area. Adding color to the otherwise all-black cockpit are body-hued panels on the sides and backs of the seats, and inserts on the door panels. Saleen-spec white-faced gauges provide a 200-mph speedo and a classy look during the day, but absolutely abhorrent nighttime illumination that pours a mish-mash of green, red, and orange lumens out of every tiny opening in the cluster. We’ve seen better use of display lighting in a Hot Dog On A Stick menu board.

The car we tested (the first SR built) had been rushed through production to meet our deadline and had not yet received the Saleen serial number plates or safety harnesses. Drilled-aluminum pedal covers had been installed, bringing a wider throttle pad that noticeably aided heel-and-toe downshifts. Unlike the S-351 model, however, the SR isn’t offered with leather upholstery nor as a convertible.

Suspension improvements come in the form of progressive-rate coil springs, gas-pressurized struts/shocks, urethane bushings, and a larger diameter front anti-roll bar (1.38 inch), plus the race-bred tweaks of camber/caster plates, a beefier Panhard rod, rear shock mount bracing, and reinforced rear lower control arms. The front-strut tower brace hadn’t been installed at the time of our test, but chassis flex wasn’t a problem. However, by using staggered-size tires (255/35ZR18s up front and 285/35ZR18s at the rear) aggressive steady-state cornering (such as that produced on a skidpad) lets the rears easily maintain their hold, while the overworked outside front tire gives up the ghost-resulting in understeer. There’s little doubt the Saleen SR’s 0.90 g of lateral grip could be improved upon by fitting same-size tires at all four corners, but it would be no minor challenge to stuff 285-series rubber under the front fenders. The other option, using 255-series tires at the rear, would only make for more impressive burnouts.

In real-world situations, where transient response and squirt-to-the-apex talent is more important than driving around a 200-foot diameter circle, the Saleen is in its element. Rapid steering response, precise turn-in control, excellent balance, and an overall authoritative road manner combine with the Lockheed SR-71 jet firepower to move you ahead in a big hurry. The car’s 66.6-mph average speed through our 600-foot slalom was slower than expected (due to moderate twitchiness in the fast left-right-left maneuvers), but this is only part of the equation. From Mulholland to Malibu, the SR runs with all but the hottest Cafe bikes and makes you the center of attention upon arrival at the Sheriff’s impound yard. Pizza-pan-sized grooved brake rotors (13.0-inch-diameter front; 12.0-inch rear) with Alcon four-piston calipers are standard and halted the rampaging pony from 60 mph in 117 feet, despite their present ABS incompatibility. With computer-modulated assist, that figure could decrease significantly.

Sure, there may be questions as to America’s need for a 480-horsepower Mustang, especially one that tops $55,000 with every magic-bean race ornament installed. And no, we aren’t the types who could live with such a temperamental brute on a daily basis. As a commuter car, the Saleen SR is as ridiculous as a GE turbine engine with a barbed-wire seat and training wheels attached. So take the minivan to pick up Nana for the weekend. To use this car properly, you need ready access to a road-racing track and a gas card with a six-figure limit. Then, it’d be one helluva fun ride.

Tech Data
Saleen Mustang SR
GENERAL/POWERTRAIN
Vehicle configuration 2-door, 2-passenger coupe
Engine configuration 90° V-8, OHV
2 valves/cylinder
Engine displacement, ci/cc 351/5752
Bore x stroke, in./mm 4.0 x 3.5/101.6 x 88.9
Compression ratio 8.8:1
Fuel/induction system Multipoint EFI,
Vortech supercharger
Horsepower,
hp @ rpm, SAE net 480 @ 5500
Torque,
lb-ft @ rpm, SAE net 487 @ 3600
Horsepower per liter 83.4
Redline, rpm 5800
Recommended fuel Premium unleaded
Transmission 5-speed manual
Axle ratio 3.27:1
CHASSIS
Suspension, f/r MacPherson struts/solid axle
Steering Rack and pinion, power assist
Brakes, f/r Vented discs/vented discs
Wheels, f/r 18 x 8.5/18 x 10.0, magnesium
Tires, f/r 255/35ZR18/285/35ZR18, Dunlop SP8000
PERFORMANCE
Acceleration, sec Stock Saleen
0-30 2.4 2.1
0-40 3.5 3.1
0-50 5.0 3.9
0-60 6.7 4.7
0-70 9.2 6.0
0-80 11.7 7.3
0-90 14.7 8.4
0-100 10.0
0-110 11.7
Quarter mile, sec/mph 15.1/92.8 12.9/117.0
Braking, ft
30-0 31 29
60-0 125 117
Slalom, 600-ft, mph 66.8 66.6
Skidpad, 200-ft, lateral g 0.86 0.90
PRICE
Base price $49,990
Price as tested $51,500 (est. )

[Source: Motor Trend Magazine]

SALEEN PERFORMANCE UNVEILS SALEEN SPEEDSTER

For Immediate Release

Saleen S351 Speedster
Saleen S351 Speedster

480 Horsepower, High-Performance Vehicle
Is Latest Edition to Expanding Line of High-performance Mustangs

IRVINE, CA – Saleen Performance, a specialty vehicle manufacturer, has announced the introduction of the Saleen Speedster, one of the latest edition of its expanding line of limited production performance Mustangs. Capable of generating up to 480 HP, the Speedster is the most powerful U.S.-produced automobile.

Speedster standard features include a 351 cubic-inch, 371 HP, Saleen engine with aluminum cylinder heads, Saleen intake manifold, Saleen headers, and a Saleen/Boria stainless steel exhaust system. A Tremec 5-speed transmission, and a custom-balanced drive-shaft upgrade the drive-line, and 18 inch magnesium wheels and tires, 4-piston competition style Saleen/Alcon disc brakes with 13 inch front rotors, a four core radiator, and dual electric fuel
pumps round out the performance enhancements. A Vortech supercharger boosts output to 480 HP, lowering zero to 60 times to 4.7 seconds, and 12.9 seconds in the quarter-mile.

“The Saleen Speedster is our answer to transforming a convertible into a sophisticated high-performance two-seater,” said Steve Saleen, president of Saleen Performance. “We wanted to incorporate certain racing aerodynamics of the Saleen Mustang such as the carbon fiber hood and the Speedster tonneau cover for the convertible model. In addition, we wanted it to be more of an exclusive body style for us.”

Extensive Saleen exterior aerodynamic refinements and a Saleen restyled interior, complete with Saleen sports seating, a white instrument gauge cluster with a 200 mph speedometer, Saleen leather wrapped steering wheel and leather gear shift knob are complemented by the convertible‘s hard cover Speedster tonneau, specially-designed carbon fiber hood and a light bar that attaches from side to side.

Suggested retail price for Saleen’s Speedster is $48,500, available through selected Team Saleen Ford dealerships across the country. For a list of Team Saleen Ford Dealers, contact Saleen Performance at 9 Whatney, Irvine, CA 92718, or call (800) SALEEN-4.

Since the company’s inception in 1984, Saleen has produced nearly 3,500 vehicles, more than any other specialty manufacturer. The company’s line includes Saleen Mustangs and Saleen Performance Parts, the latter a complete line of performance and appearance products for 5.0 liter Mustangs.

Contact: Kim Seguin
JMPR: (818) 992-4353

SALEEN PERFORMANCE CARS
9 WHATNEY
IRVINE, CALIFORNIA 92718
714-597-4900
741-597-0201 FAX