Tag Archives: Saleen

SALEEN S7 BRINGS SUPERCAR CROWN TO AMERICA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

2001 Model Takes On Most Exclusive Cars In The World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LATE RACING NEWS

By: N.A. on March 6, 2000
Original Article: AUTOWEEK, VOL. 50, ISSUE 11

MICHELIN ON TRACK
Michelin will start testing its Formula One tires on a Williams-BMW next month. The French tiremaker will re-enter Formula One in 2001 (AW, Dec. 27, 1999) and has already signed Williams and, when it enters, Toyota. A Williams test team will do the tire development this year at several F1 tracks.

BRUNETTI REPLACES HORNE
Tony Brunetti has been named Forsythe Championship Racing vice president and general manager, more or less replacing Steve Horne, who resigned (AW, Feb. 28). Brunetti joined Forsythe in 1993. And where’s Horne going? Hottest rumor has him about to land a full-time job at CART, overseeing all racing activities.

NEW FERRARI GT RACER
The Turin race car and prototype specialist Italtechnica is building a limited run of Ferrari 550 Maranellos called the Millenio, for the Le Mans 24 Hour and the FIA GT Champion-ship. It is a purely privateer venture with no backing, either financial or technical, from Ferrari. The project is backed by a group of wealthy investors under the title GT Racing Development. They include Swiss sports car racer Jean-Denis Deletraz, whose FIRST Racing team will enter up to three Millenios in the FIA series.

SALEEN LINKS WITH BTCC TEAM
Ford tuner Steve Saleen has linked up with last year’s British Touring Car Championship team Ray Mallock Limited to develop its next-generation Mustang GTS. The deal means that the British team will be involved in both the road and the race car. The British-built Saleen RS should make its race debut toward the end of the American Le Mans Series schedule. Saleen’s U.S. team, Saleen-Allen, will run the Grand-Am series, starting with round two at Phoenix in April. Ray Mallock Limited is still in the running to become Opel’s fourth team in Germany’s DTM 2000 series.

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

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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.

MW: 4th ANNUAL SALEEN SHOW AND OPEN HOUSE

Editor Note… From our friends at MustangWorld.com.

TEXT: MUSTANGWORLD
PHOTOS: GLENN MOLLER

Buckle your seat belts! There were some amazing stangs at the ’99 Saleen show. We got some pics from different sections of the show including a supercharged 2000 Saleen Mustang! Let’s cut to the chase and check out the pics:-)

The show took place at Saleen Headquarters in Irvine CA.

[Source: MustangWorld.com]

LEADER OF THE PACK

By: DAVID CZURAK on May 10, 1999
Original Article: GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL, VOL. 17, ISSUE 19

Keller Picks Up Speed With Vehicle Line, Pace Car

It was a match made in Gasoline Alley. Well, not really, but close enough. Keller Ford and Saleen Performance Cars inked their deal after bumping into each other in the grease- and oil-stained paddock area of the West Michigan Grand Prix after last summer’s inaugural race. Now Keller Ford is an exclusive seller of two of Saleen’s high-performance Fords, with another beefed-up model on the way.

Saleen Performance Cars, based in Irvine, Calif., has carved out a niche for itself in the specialty manufacturing field by taking showroom vehicles and turning them into road runners, sporty cars with more style, power and range than the production models. Sports Car Club of America driver Steve Saleen started the business in 1984. Today Saleen has five divisions, including design and engineering, and a national network of dealers. In between, the firm has converted over 6,000 vehicles.

Keller Ford, on Alpine Avenue NW, became one of those dealers last fall. The Walker dealership has two thumpers for sale; the Saleen XP8 Explorer and the Saleen S281 Mustang. The Mustang, a sleek and shiny black machine with hot-pink piping that was co-designed by Saleen and Keller Ford, is the official pace car for the second running of this summer’s Grand Prix. A pumped-up Saleen F-Series pickup truck will arrive at Keller later.

Going back to July, Keller Ford provided all the cars and trucks for last summer’s Grand Prix. Saleen was there, too. His firm is a partner with TV star Tim Allen, who raced a Saleen Mustang here last summer. After the racing was done, the two companies met.

“Steve was very impressed with the job that we did. He approached us after the race and wanted to know if we wanted to be one of the exclusive Saleen dealers in West Michigan and we accepted,” said Rob Keller, owner of Keller Ford. “They’re considered a very specialty vehicle manufacturer that converts models into more of a high-performance vehicle.”

The Saleen 281 Mustang comes with a standard 4.6 liter-engine – capable of producing up to 285 horsepower – racing suspension and 18-inch wheels. Add a Saleen “Roots” Supercharger and the horsepower jumps to 350, and 19-inch wheels also are available. The “standard” model starts at $28,590.

If that’s not enough Mustang, there is the Saleen S351 that does 0-to-60 in 4.6 seconds and reaches 122 miles-per-hour in a quarter-mile run. The S351 can crank out 495 horsepower and comes as a coupe, convertible or speedster. Prices start at $50,445.

“With Saleen’s experience racing in the world’s premier motorsports events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, we have truly created the fastest vehicle on the ground,” Saleen said. The Mustang was bred at the Saleen/Allen “RRR” Speedlab, a partnership between the racer and “Home Improvement” star.

Saleen also offers an Explorer XP8 at Keller’s, a bulkier version of the popular Ford sports utility vehicle. The XP8 has a standard 5.0 liter V-8 with 222 horses that can be souped up to 286 horsepower. It has a special carbon fiber hood and racing brakes with 13-inch discs. The XP8 sells for about $37,000.

Once again, Keller Ford is providing the track trucks and pace car, 14 vehicles in all, for the race, which runs from Aug. 27-29.

“All of the vehicles are for sale,” said Keller. “Some, like the pace car and a few of the other Saleens, have commitments made on them. But there are others available.”

Besides Keller Ford, Grand Prix sponsors include the Gainey Corp., Meijer Inc., Pepsi, CenturyTel, Speedway gas stations, Johnson Controls, Country Fresh, MichCon, Budweiser, Purple East, Michigan National Bank and BF Goodrich.

The early corporate response to Grand Prix II has pleased race officials, especially West Michigan Grand Prix Association President Sam Cummings. “We believe that through our awesome partners and sponsorship sales, we will see a strong interest in early ticket sales,” said Cummings. Race tickets are on sale now.

The Business Journal honored last summer’s three-day event by presenting Cummings and WMGPA Chairman Dan DeVos with its annual Newsmaker-of-the-Year Award in March.

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

INTRODUCING: SALEEN POWERFLASH

The quickest, most effective performance improvement for Mustangs is now available from Saleen. PowerFlash, the first and only automotive performance computer, provides immediate improvements in horsepower and torque for your Mustang. The PowerFlash does what no “chip” can do because it’s not a chip. PowerFlash is a completely new program for your Mustang, which is loaded directly into your vehicle’s PCM computer. It doesn’t try to modify the stock code within the PCM computer; it replaces it with new performance programming.

Your car’s PCM computer contains the logic to control the powertrain. Within this code, there exists over 4,000 variables. By utilizing the Ford Research Console, which is the implementation tool of the Vehicle Data Acquisitions System, Saleen calibrates the code for maximum performance at every aspect of engine operation. PowerFlash is custom calibrated to each vehicle application, and also eliminates the speed limiter. This new performance calibration delivers an additional 8 horsepower and 10 lbs.-feet of additional torque across the full power range. It additionally includes an option that modifies automatic transmission shift points for stronger upshifts and an option that will correct the speedometer for either a 3:55 or 3:73 gear ratio.

The base retail price of the Saleen PowerFlash is $199.99, plus shipping and handling. The automatic transmission shift point option and speedo correction for different axle ratios option are $50.00 each. The price includes special packaging and one-day turnaround by professionally trained Saleen technicians.

Responsiveness by the millisecond. The new Saleen PowerFlash performance calibration gives the Mustang more performance, more driveability and more reliability, with none of the driveability issues of chips.

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.