Tag Archives: Saleen

HARRY DRIVES ‘EM WILD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He may even have a look over the Saleen S7.

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

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

FELLOWS HOPES CORVETTE TAKES REVENGE AT LE MANS

By: N.A. on March 20, 2001
Original Article: TORONTO STAR (CANADA)

Ron Fellows wants another shot at the competition he calls “the thing” and this time with a healthy Corvette C5-R.

But he’ll have to wait until June 16-17 when he crosses the pond to France for the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The “thing” is the U.S.-funded, British-built Saleen S7R, a newcomer to the American Le Mans series, which will also contest the event, after which the U.S. series run by Don Panoz is named.

The Saleen beat the Corvettes for the first time this season in the 12 Hours of Sebring (Fla.) to capture the GTS class. A prototype Audi won the overall race.

While he concedes that the Saleen is “pretty fast,” Fellows doesn’t believe it belongs in the GTS class.

“But it’s there and so we have to figure out a way to beat it,” said the Mississauga native. “There’s nothing like a challenge.”

Fellows attempt to beat the Saleen at Sebring was hampered by a faulty starter motor which had to be changed twice during the race and cost the team 10 laps.

Fellows knows both he and the second Corvette, which finished second in the class at Sebring while Fellows was third, will have their work cut out for them at Le Mans.

“It’ll have a big advantage at Le Mans because it’s narrower and lower and it’s a proper race car,” he said. “It looks a lot like the Porsche GT1. It sure looked like it in my rearview mirror and following it, too.”

CYCLING FATALITY:
The auto racing world is mourning the death of champion driver Bob Wollek who was killed when he was struck while riding his bicycle near Sebring International Raceway last Friday.

He was in Sebring for the 24-hour endurance race on Saturday, which he won in 1985.

The 57-year-old native of Strasbourg, France, won the 24 Hours of Daytona four times and two class wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Last year, he won five American Le Mans Series events.

Wollek was riding his bike near the track late in the afternoon when he was hit from behind by a car. The accident is still under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.

RETIREMENT SUPPORTED:
Readers of the U.S. racing publication AutoWeek 69 per cent in favour of NASCAR breaking with tradition and retiring the No. 3 of legendary Winston Cup driver Dale Earnhardt, who was killed in a crash during last month’s Daytona 500.

Even many among the 31 per cent opposed to retiring the number expressed the view that removing the number from view on the track would cause people to eventually forget Earnhardt’s contributions.

SUPER SUB:
Oakville’s Kenny Wilden, substituting for injured American driver Leighton Reese, finished a strong third in Trans-Am Series 100, a support event of the 12 Hours of Sebring, this past weekend.

Wilden, driving the Banner Engineering Chevrolet Corvette, passed Johnny Miller’s Jaguar XKR on lap 26 to gain a spot on the podium behind winner Boris Said and runner-up Paul Gentilozzi.

CART GRADS:
Brazilian Tarso Marques, whose top finish in 17 CART races last year for Gerald Forsythe Racing was seventh in the final race of the 2000 season on the California Speedway super oval, finished 14th in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Two former CART champions, Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Montoya, both failed to finish the race.

FORD-POWERED SALEEN S7R INTO PRODUCTION

By: LARRY ROBERTS on March 6, 2001
Original Article: www.theautochannel.com

Apparently the fortunes of Steve Saleen and his small Southern California car building company are getting better all the time. You might recall that Saleen is the sports car enthusiast-turned-builder who has made his mark in the automotive world as the producer of a line of “sporting” vehicles that have ranged from small trucks that raced in the old SCCA mini-truck road racing series to a line of sports cars that bear the Saleen name.

In truth, all the cars were modified Ford products, the most notable being the various Ford Mustangs that he customized until they were hardly recognizable. Some may dismiss this concept of modifying a currently produced vehicle from a large auto maker and attaching the modifiers own name and logo, but we need only point to the products of Shelby America. Carroll Shelby made his name and reputation on modifying British AC Ace roadster and Ford Mustangs and calling them Shelby Cobras and Shelby GT 350 coupes.

Steve Saleen has followed in the 35-year old footsteps of Carroll Shelby and has gone into production of Ford-powered exotic “supercars” of the same genre of Lamborghini, Ferrari and Lotus. The Saleen S7 was developed from a clean sheet of paper and unlike other Saleen products, uses only proprietary parts such as a Ford twin-cam engine.

But Saleen has also taken a page from Shelby’s book on automotive success and is producing a professional endurance racing sports-racer to compete in national and international events. To that end Saleen’s racing department, Saleen Allen Speedlab, has developed a racing version of its S7 exotic, the S7R, to be campaigned as a “production” car in the various classes in a plethora of sanctioning bodies. Originally the drivers for the factory team were to consist of the multi-national team of Tom Kendall, Oliver Gavin, Terry Borcheller and Ron Johnston driving a single car. The S7R is classed with cars such as the factory-entered Chevrolet Corvette C5R, recent winner of the Daytona 24 hour race, the all-conquering Oreca Dodge Vipers and a half-dozen other brands.

But now Saleen reports that he has contracted to build S7R race cars for so many independent teams that his own effort will have to be delayed. The first of these “privateers” is Paul Gentilozzi, two-time national champion in the SCCA Pro Racing Trans Am series. Gentilozzi drove his Rocketsport-entered S7R at the Rolex Daytona 24 Hour race and while his qualifying times were as good as any in the class, the car went out after 50 laps with undisclosed mechanical problems.

Saleen had planned to prove his S7R in competition and then sell five or six replicas to “privateers” after the 24 Hours of Le Mans race this coming June. But orders up front have taken precedence and his efforts will be concentrated on the orders at hand, some of which are planned to compete at Le Mans by their new owners.

And what could be sweeter for a race car builder than to have customers waiting in the wings to drive a yet unproven machine.

We’ll have to wait and see.

SALEEN S7 SUPERCAR TO USE NEWTECH’S HIGH-PERFORMANCE BRAKE SYSTEM AS ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT

DETROIT, March 6 /PRNewswire/ — NewTech Group International today announced that its revolutionary new full-contact brake system will be installed as original equipment on the 2002 Saleen S7 supercar, making Saleen, Inc. the brake company’s first OE customer. The system will also be available as an option on the high-performance 2002 special edition Saleen Mustangs (S281 and SR). The announcement was made at the 2001 SAE World Congress in Detroit.

The full-contact brake system, fully developed by NewTech and its French affiliates, is composed of sensors and an Intelligent Braking System (IBS) and a radically different single, circular pad that distributes pressure over the full 360-degree surface of the disc. Compared to conventional brakes that use pads to apply pressure to only a small percentage of the disc, the NewTech brake is much higher performing, virtually fade-free, costs less to install and produce and is much more durable. NewTech’s technology can even enable the automotive industry to offer lifetime warranties on the product.

Under the agreement, Saleen will handle the certification process by conducting an extensive road-testing program. NewTech, meanwhile, will continue to develop its braking system to meet the needs of its customers, to whom it sells the system under licensing agreement.

The 200+ mph Saleen S7 is the first true American supercar, a category that includes Ferrari and Lamborghini models. Saleen expects to build 400 S7 vehicles over the next four years.

More than 1,000 Saleen Mustangs were sold in 2000. The California-based manufacturer is aiming to boost its 2001 sales by 20%.

NewTech/Saleen

About NewTech:
NewTech Group International is an independent Quebec-based company offering a full range of research and development, design and full-contact brakes to the automotive and heavy truck industries. NewTech’s mission is to develop the best brake system in the world.

To this end, the company has hired 50 of the top researchers and engineers from Europe, Asia and North America. Including technicians, communication personnel and administrators, NewTech employs about 120 full-time staff.

About Saleen, Inc.
Saleen, Inc. was founded by Steve Saleen in 1983. The company, which recently marked its 18th year of operation, specializes in designing and producing high-performance sports cars. Saleen is the largest American manufacturer of specialty cars. The company’s goal is to build the highest-performing cars, at the most competitive price, in its category.

The Saleen partnership is the first automobile original equipment supply contract that NewTech has signed with a car manufacturer, and second with a vehicle manufacturer. Four months ago, NewTech signed a deal to supply Renault’s truck division with a brake system adapted to its Class 8 heavy-duty vehicles.

SOURCE: NewTech Group International

ENGINEERING AN AMERICAN SUPERCAR

By: AMY HIGGINS on March 1, 2001
Original Article: MACHINE DESIGN, VOL. 73, ISSUE 5

A space-age chassis and an engine fit for both racing and street cruising take Saleen’s “supercar” to new levels.

Zero to 60 in under 4 sec. A top speed North of 200 mph. Ground effects that would let the car cruise at 160 mph — upside down. Suffice it to say, the new S7 super car from specialty carmaker Saleen Inc., Irvine, Calif., would surely blow the doors off Herbie. Throw in sleek lines, smooth curves, and Delorean-style doors, and you’ve got one fine-looking ride that gives “supercar” a new meaning.

Incredibly, Saleen’s new beauty was designed, engineered, manufactured, and ready for delivery in just 18 months. But development wasn’t a one-man gig. Saleen worked closely with OEMs from around the globe including Italian brake manufacturer Brembo, British racing house, Ray Mallock Ltd. (RML), and a host of other specialty suppliers.

“Niche manufacturing is about using the best available from the world’s high-quality suppliers,” explains Steve Saleen, president and founder of Saleen Inc., “It’s a nontraditional way to build a car, but for small-volume manufacturing, it’s the most effective and efficient method to bring a quality car to market with minimal cost.”

In designing the supercar, the objective was straightforward: Design a vehicle that could easily compete with the fastest, most luxurious, and best-handling grand touring cars in the world, yet comfortably tool around on highways, autobahns, or country roads. The first step–a chassis and suspension fit for racing and street cruising.

Space-age chassis
Saleen tapped RML’s expertise in designing and engineering the S7’s futuristic chassis, suspension system, and overall look. RML built the preproduction chassis and body in Wellingborough, England, while the final prototype was assembled at Saleen’s plant in Irvine, Calif.

A lightweight steel, space-frame chassis is reinforced with a honeycomb-composite-carbon fiber that cuts weight but adds stiffness. Fully independent unequal-length “A” arms and lightweight aluminum dampers with coilover springs make up the basic suspension. Special CNC-machined aluminum uprights with a spider weblike structure direct cooling air to the brakes and wheel bearings.

Other components include specially tuned Brembo-supplied aluminum brakes: six-piston, 15-in. ventilated discs on the front, and 14-in. in the rear. Center hub-mounted wheels are shod with Pirelli P-Zero Rossa tires, size 275×30-19 upfront and 355×25-19 in back.

The S7 has a relatively large footprint with a 106-in. wheelbase and 68.75-in. front track. According to Saleen, the car’s presence is “amazing.” It stretches to 188 in. long and just over 78 in. wide. In true sportscar fashion, the S7 rides low, its body perched just 4 in. above the ground. At 41 in. high, it sits 3 in. lower than a Lamborghini Diablo, and at 2,750 lb, weighs 650 lb less. “We wanted a ‘form-follows-function’ look, but also one that was beautiful,” says Saleen. “I’d say we succeeded.”

Engineers also made safety a high priority. For starters, the S7 fuel tank sits at chassis center. This reduces changes to the car’s handling with fuel load, and improves overall packaging, says Saleen. A front-suspension antiroll bar, carbon-fiber rocker panels and doors, and three-point seat belts with automatic pretensioners add to the mix. Aluminum honeycomb panels add strength to the steel chassis and absorb impact. The same material makes up the front crush structure and rear crumple zones.

Built for speed
Powering the supercar is a 7-liter (427 in.3), normally aspirated, aluminum V-8 that generates 550 hp at 6,400 rpm and 520 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Torque transfers to the rear wheels through a new-generation, six-speed transaxle.

Interestingly, the huge powerplant is just slightly over-square in that the stroke length is actually shorter than the bore size. Over-square engines are typically used in racing because they develop more power at higher rpm. On the other hand, they tend to lack torque at lower speed, which makes them less suitable for cruising down the highway. The S7 spans both worlds with a 4.125-in. bore and 4-in. stroke.

Though the S7 engine block is cast according to a traditional Ford design, Saleen completely reengineered it 8 in. shorter than the original block. A compact front engine accessory drive system with a side-mounted water pump streamlines the engine and helps distribute weight.

Further improving weight distribution and CG is a midchassis-mounted engine. This arrangement also allows for an especially tall “true” downdraft induction system. Here, air flows through a carbon-fiber air box leading to a magnesium throttle body and intake manifolds. Fuel feeds through matched trumpets in a straight shot to the intake ports.

The use of space-age materials makes engine components lighter and more reliable. Take the high-strength piston rods, for example. They are forged from a new EN40B billet steel. Beryllium exhaust valve seats effectively transfer heat away from the all-aluminum, CNC-machined cylinder heads. Stainless-steel valves and titanium retainers toughen the valve train. And a specially designed crankshaft is crafted from 4340 forged billet steel.

Yet another performance feature is Saleen’s dry-pump, oil-delivery system. The system cuts power-robbing viscous friction, improves ground clearance, and thwarts oil starvation in hard cornering. Innovation doesn’t end there. The S7’s huge muffler has a twofold purpose: It cuts noise and acts as part of the rear impact crumple zone. Surprisingly, the supercar meets all federal and California emission-control standards as a transitional low-emissions vehicle.

A true drag diffuser
Advantages gained in the wind tunnel are priceless, something not lost on S7 designers. They spent considerable time at Scotland’s University of Glasgow wind-tunnel facilities refining drag-to-lift ratio, center of gravity, drag coefficient, and downforce. With the S7, what you see is not all you get. Full underside body sculpting helps cut underbody turbulence and boost overall stability at high speeds.

Gills and fascia openings add to the S7’s exotic beauty while serving a functional purpose. For example, side scoops let air move through the vehicle to cool the transmission while split radiators exhaust under and to the sides of the car to produce downforce. A roof intake system supplies additional air to the engine, while a nose scoop helps ventilate the cabin.

Moving inside, creature comforts are as impressive as the exterior. Connolly leather upholstered seats and surfaces, air-conditioning, adjustable pedals, and a six-disc CD player are just a few of the features.

Tall drivers might find the S7 incredibly considerate to their plight with the removable steering wheel for easier entry, as well as an asymmetrical cockpit. Here, drivers sit more toward the center of the cabin than passengers, improving both visibility and weight distribution.

The supercar also sports a special, live-video rear-view “mirror” that uses a video camera concealed in the rear of the car and an LCD mounted where a traditional rearview mirror would sit. Analog gauges and a center-mounted tachometer are highlighted with brushed aluminum and body-color accents adding to the S7’s elegance.

Car enthusiasts lucky enough to get their hands on a 2001 Saleen S7 will pay handsomely. The supercar retails for $385,000. However, all hope is not lost for those with less dough. Saleen says it will build a less-expensive, higher-volume model to meet its goal of selling 300 to 400 cars worldwide through the S7’s four-year production run.

MATERIALS OUTLOOK

By: N.A. on January 8, 2001
Original Article: AMERICAN METAL MARKET, VOL. 109, ISSUE 5

Metals in Motion

Titanium, magnesium in powerful V-8
DETROIT — Titanium valve retainers and magnesium intake manifolds and throttle bodies are employed in the aluminum-block/aluminum-head 7.0-liter V-8 engine used in the high-powered Saleen S7 sports car built in Irvine, Calif., by Saleen Inc. The low-slung, 200-mile-per-hour sports car will be built in very low volumes for sale in the United States and England, initially. For the continental European and Middle East markets, the 550-horsepower cars will be assembled in the United Kingdom. The first models will show up in the U.S. market in the second quarter of 2001 priced at $375,000 apiece.

Plastic car bodies seen making gains
DETROIT — Regular production of car bodies made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastics may begin in Europe by 2005. Low-volume production already is undertaken by some sports car builders, but higher output levels for family car applications should be reached in four or five years, according to a number of BMW AG engineering executives and managers. Research and development subsidiary BMW Technik, Munich, Germany, recently started operating a pilot plant for the production of composite car bodies making extensive use of carbon fiber technology.

Lotus Elise Sport 190 off to the races
DETROIT — A few dozen Lotus Elise Sport 190 cars with aluminum spaceframe chassis have been purchased by U.S. citizens at $56,000 to $57,000 apiece for use on the race track–the only way the car owners are allowed to use the extremely lightweight (1,480 pounds) two-seaters, which aren’t certified for regular street use in this country. The Sport 190 is a four-cylinder-engine-equipped, 190-horsepower track version of the Lotus sports car built in Norwich, England, by Lotus Cars Ltd.

Chrysler hopes new Jeep SUV scores
DETROIT — The Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler AG is hoping that its new steel-body Jeep sport utility vehicle, the Liberty, due out in the summer, will boost Jeep sales and get its overall market performance back on track. The Toledo, Ohio.-built Liberty SUVs will join the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler models in Chrysler’s Jeep lineup.

GENTILOZZT & ROCKETSPORTS TO RUN SALEEN S7R

First Customer Car to Compete in Rolex 24 at Daytona

IRVINE, Calif., Dec. 18, 2000 – Steve Saleen, six-time GT Manufacturer’s Champion in sports car racing, announced today that Paul Gentilozi and his Rocketsports Racing will run a Saleen S7R in the 2001 Rolex 24 scheduled for Feb. 5-6 at Daytona International Speedway.

Gentilozzi, the “Rocket Man”, won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1992, the IMSA GTS Manufacturer’s Championship in 1993 and the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 1994. But he is best known as a fierce competitor in the Trans-Am Series where Gentilozzi is the two-time (’98 & ’99) Trans-Am Driver’s Champion and first all-time in starts, “Fast Five’’ starts and top-five finishes. Most recently, Gentilozzi barely missed a “three-peat” finishing second in the 2000 Trans-Am Driver’s Championship.

“We have always prided ourselves a5 being innovative racers at Rocketsports,” stated Gentilozzi. “The opportunity to compete in the jewd of endurance racing in a truly innovative race car was too much to pass up. The Saleen S7R has set a new standard for its class and deserves a win. We intend to be part of that first victory.”

While Saleen will be providing customer support to Rocketsports Racing for the assault on the Rolex, Saleen/Allen Speedlab will use January to concentrate on the development and testing of the S7R to insure a more competitive product for future customers.

“We’re thrilled to have Paul and his Rocketsports Racing running our first customer car, especially at the Rolex,” commented Saleen. “Everyone who follows sports car racing knows of Paul’s competitive nature; he never backs away from challenge. We’re dedicated to a major customer car program with the Salem S7R and we’d be hard pressed to find a better team to run our first customer car.”

The Saleen S7R debuted at Laguna Seca this fall less than two months after its sibling the Saleen S7, was introduced as the first true American supercar at the famed Monterey Historic Races at this same venue. Since then, development of the 7-liter Vg-powered, 6OO-horsepower racecar has been top priority at Saleen’s Southern California-based headquarters. The ACO, ALMS, FIA and Grand-Am have all approved the racecar’s design and Saleen hopes that customer cars will be competing in each ofthe series this year.

Saleen recently announced plans to campaign two Saleen S7R5 in the entire 2001 ALMS season, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The racecars are expected to compete against the Chevrolet Corvettes and the Dodge Vipers in the GTS classification.

Already the famed racing marque, Ecune Ecosse, announced this month that they will campaign a Saleen S7R in the British GT Championship, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Ecuria Ecosse effort will be managed by RML, Saleen’s technical partner who assisted in the design and production of the Saleen S7R.

In addition, Saleen hopes to announce plans for another customer to compete a Saleen S7R in the 2001 &and-Am GT Championship, a series which Saleen/Allen Speedlab won the Driver’s, Manufacturer’s and Team Championships last year.

Saleen facilities include total research, engineering, design and assembly capability. Saleen is certified with the federal government as a specialty vehicle manufacturer. Since the company’s inception in 1934, Saleen has produced over 8JOO vehicles, more than any other specialty manufacturer. The company’s line includes the Saleen S281, the Saleen xP8 SUV, the new Saleen 57 supercar, Saleen Engineering and Certification Service, and Saleen Performance Parts, the latter encompassing the complete line of performance and appearance products for Mustangs and Explorers. For more information about Saleen – its people and its products – visit the web site at www.saIeen.com.

SALEEN SPEEDS AHEAD ON S7 PROJECT

By: AMY WILSON on December 11, 2000
Original Article: AUTOMOTIVE NEWS, VOL. 75, ISSUE 5907

Steve Saleen is a speed merchant.

Until now his primary business has been to supply Ford dealers with something they couldn’t get from the factory — a high-performance car that’s capable of going toe to toe with sports cars such as the Chevrolet Cor- vette. This year Saleen Inc. expects to sell more than 1,000 copies of the S281, a modified version of the Ford Mustang, at an average price of about $41,000.

Now Saleen, with the financial backing of partner Tony Johnson of Hidden Creek Industries, has set his sights on producing a limited-volume, high-performance supercar — the Saleen S7.

The step puts Saleen in company with another noted automotive industry figure, former Chrysler Corp. executive Robert Lutz and his plan to produce a powerful touring car under the auspices of Cunningham Motor Co.

Different routes
But while Saleen and Lutz have much the same dream — to build a small number of unique, high-priced vehicles — their business plans are different.

Lutz, president of battery supplier Exide Corp., envisions a virtual car company where engineering, manufacturing and assembly would be outsourced to a major supplier such as a Visteon or Delphi. The Lutz-Cunningham group aims to have a driveable prototype by mid-2001.

The fruits of his project, however, likely would not compete directly against the Saleen S7. The Cunningham car would be a 2+2 grand touring car with a 550-hp V-12 engine. Capable of speeds of more than 200 mph, that vehicle would cost more than $200,000. Saleen and his boutique firm plan to launch a performance-oriented supercar engineered, sourced and assembled almost completely under the auspices of the Saleen organization.

That greater oversight on the Saleen project is necessary to ensure high-speed performance and a car that leaves the production line ready for the racetrack, said Saleen, founder and president of Saleen Inc., a company that made its name tuning high-performance Ford Mustangs.

Pricey performance
The Saleen S7 — a 555-hp supercar with a price tag of $385,000 — is set to begin shipping to customers next June.

Already, nine people have made $100,000 deposits. Saleen still has to get the vehicle through government certification; at least two of the supercars will be crash-tested in the process.

Saleen plans to build 100 of the cars a year for the next four years, though the program’s break-even point will come with the sale of 80 to 100 vehicles, Saleen said.

The S7 project has the backing of Johnson, head of Hidden Creek Industries, a $6.5 billion enterprise with interests in major automotive suppliers, including:

  • Dura Automotive Systems Inc., a maker of controls such as gear shifts with sales to North American automakers of $1.25 billion last year, ranking it No. 35 on the Automotive News list of top 150 suppliers.
  • Tower Automotive Inc., a maker of suspension components and truck frames with sales to North American automakers of $2.04 billion last year, ranking it No. 19 on the top 150 list.

Those companies have little involvement in the S7 project, though Saleen certainly uses such suppliers for its custom vehicles.

Saleen COO Don Cuzzocrea said: “We manufacture either all of our own parts ourselves or they’re custom built for us by well-known Tier 1 suppliers. But anything we get is a proprietary design.”

The S7’s 7.0-liter V-8 engine is based on a Ford-cast all-aluminum engine block re-engineered by Saleen. British racing house Ray Mallock Ltd. assisted with the design and build of the space-frame chassis and packaging of the suspension system. Saleen also procured brakes from Italian maker Brembo and numerous high-tech pieces from companies in the Midlands area of England. Dura Automotive is supplying Saleen-specified foot pedals. Though a few commodity mechanisms — pieces such as levers and latches — are on the S7, virtually every part involved in driving the car or visible to the driver was designed and/or produced by Saleen, the company’s president said.

Saleen officials intend to position the S7 against pricier vehicles. Among them: the McLaren F1, the Porsche GT1 and the Jaguar 220, all of which retail for more than $1 million.

Saleen S7
Manufacturer: Saleen Inc., Irvine, Calif.
Engine: 555-hp, 7.0-liter V-8 based on a Ford block
Speed: 200-plus mph
Planned production: 400 cars
Price: $385,000

THE NEWS

By: N.A. on December 4, 2000
Original Article: AUTOWEEK, VOL. 50, ISSUE 51

DECEMBER 4, 2000

To misquote Shakespeare, all the world’s a rally and we’re putting you center stage. World Rally driver Richard Burns topped the competition in the Britain (apge 50) and Subaru is already dreaming about what it–and you– will do with its rally-inspired Impreza WRX (Headliner, page 9). Over at Pontiac, the REV is only a concept (Cover Story) but a powerful little all-wheel-driver that claims rally inspiration, too. The yearlong rally is over for our long-term Beetle (page 18), which ran stronger than we expected. Maserati won’t rally anything but its troops, to put a new Spider (below) at an auto show near you in the not-too-distant future.

Mysterious Maserati Spider
Maserati’s Spider will take center stage in the future model lineup and should serve Maserati well for its return to the North Ameri-can market in 2001. Insiders say the car now meets emission regulations of both the American and European markets.

Compared with the coupe version, the new Spider’s wheelbase is slightly shorter. The Spider reportedly will also get an all-new, highly tuned 4.0-liter V8 engine, a derivative of the Ferrari 360 Modena powerplant. With assistance from parent company Ferrari, during the next two years Maserati’s new V8 engine also will be adapted to the coupe and the next-generation Quattroporte sedan.

Company officials declined comment on reports the Spider will be launched at either the Detroit or Los
Angeles auto show.

First Viper GTS-R, now Saleen S7
The engineer responsible for turning the Dodge Viper concept into a production car and then into the Viper GTS-R racer is joining Saleen as chief engineering officer.

Neil Hannemann, whose 18-year career centered on ultra-high-performance street and competition vehicles first at Chrysler and then at DaimlerChrysler, will lead Saleen’s product development and certification programs, including work on the S7 supercar.

Pinto’s revenge?
Years after the federal government complained that Ford’s Pinto exploded on rear impact, the feds are proposing that cars and trucks be built to withstand a 50-mph rear-end collision with virtually no loss of fuel.

The proposed new rule comes more than five years after General Motors agreed to fund research in rear-crash testing to avoid a recall of its full-size pickups outfitted with sidesaddle fuel tanks. Critics contended the sidesaddle tanks contributed to fuel fires in crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administra-tion estimates the tougher standard could save up to 21 lives per year over the existing 30-mph rear-impact requirement. The agency says the regulation would add $5 to the cost of each vehicle. Industry lobbyists are still formulating their response to the proposal, but in the past they have advocated improved testing.
Car of the Year–Japanese-style

Honda Civic is the 21st Japanese Car of the Year, beating its direct rival Toyota Corolla, according to a poll of Japanese automotive journalists.

The Subaru Impreza WRX received the Car of the Year special award and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class received the Imported Car of the Year award. Cars built in Japan between Nov. 1, 1999, and Oct. 31, 2000, were eligible.

Obituary
Bill Devin, an automobile industry pioneer once referred to as “the Enzo Ferrari of Okie Flats,” died Nov. 22. He was 85.

Starting as a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer in Fontana, California, Devin moved up to exotic cars and eventually specialized in racing Ferraris. His dream of becoming a car builder materialized in 1954 with the fiberglass-bodied Devin-Panhard. He ultimately became the world’s largest producer of aftermarket fiberglass bodies in the 1950s. In 1958, he introduced the Devin SS, powered by a Corvette V8, and also produced the Porsche- or Volkswagen-powered Devin D and Corvair-powered Devin C.

LATE RACING NEWS

By: N.A. on November 13, 2000
Original Article: AUTOWEEK, VOL. 50, ISSUE 47

SALEEN SIGNS GAVIN
Steve Saleen has signed Olivier Gavin to drive his GTS car in the American Le Mans Series next year. Gavin, a former Formula One test driver and British Formula 3 champion, will team with Terry Borcheller, Ron Johnson and Tom Kendall. Saleen skipped the Las Vegas race (AW, Nov. 6) to spend the weekend testing.

UAW SPONSORS NADEAU
The United Auto Workers union and Delphi Automotive will be the primary sponsors on Rick Hendrick’s Winston Cup car next year (driven by Jerry Nadeau), replacing Michael Holigan Homes. Word is Holigan wants to start his own team.

NEW RILEY & SCOTT TRANS-AM CAR
Riley & Scott will introduce a redesigned Trans-Am chassis, the Mk VIII, for the 2001 season. The new model will hit the track mid-season. Design changes include revised suspension for quicker adjustments and a stronger structure. R&S said the chassis is designed to fit all Trans-Am-eligible bodies.

McLAREN DUMPS F3000 TEAM
There will be no West McLaren-Mercedes “junior” team in the 2001 FIA Formula 3000 series. Established in 1998, West Competition ran Nick Heidfeld, a protege of Mercedes-Benz, to the runner-up slot the first year. The German won the title in 1999, and in 2000 moved on to the Prost F1 team. No official reason for the pullout was given, but team manager David Brown had already told his bosses he was leaving to join the Jordan Grand Prix team.

BIFFLE MOVES UP
Roush Racing will move Craftsman Truck Series champion Greg Biffle to the Busch Series in 2001 and promote CTS runner-up Kurt Busch to Winston Cup. Roush also is trying to broker a business partnership with former baseball star Hank Aaron. The reason: He hopes to find a qualified minority driver for one of NASCAR’s lower divisions in 2001.

TOYOTA GETS SERIOUS
Toyota is getting serious about its NASCAR Goody’s Dash program. The Japanese auto-maker has landed two-time series champ Robert Huffman to drive a Celica in 2001.

TOYO IS NEW SPEC TIRE
The Speedvision World Challenge and Toyo Tires have announced the Toyo Proxes T1-S will be the spec tire beginning with the 2001 Speedvision GT and Touring Car seasons.