Tag Archives: Saleen


By: MICHAEL J. AGOVINO on October 1996
Original Article: ESQUIRE, VOL. 126 ISSUE 4

Steve Saleen takes garden-variety Ford Mustangs and turns I them into street rods. But not very many of them. His motto is unabashed: “Power in the hands of a few.” Not long ago, we decided to join those few behind the wheel.

Since 1984, the former race-car driver has produced only thirty-five hundred of these babies. Saleen’s current offerings begin at a remarkably low $28,000 for a six. cylinder and range up to $50,000 for a supercharged eight. The supercharger of the new Speedster convertible boosts the output of the 351-cubic-inch Saleen engine to 480 horses.

Saleen takes most of the Mustangs’ innards out, along with significant weight. He adds superchargers, specially rebuilt engines, and new suspensions and transmissions; reshapes the bodies; and adds instrument panels with speedometers that reach two hundred miles per hour.

Limited-edition manufacturers, such as Saleen on the West Coast and Reeves Callaway on the East, are reclaiming a piece of American auto turf once thought long gone: that of the street-legal race car. Callaway’s demurely titled “SuperNatural” Corvettes and gussied-up Impala SS’s are rare and impressive beasts.

That there is little that’s socially redeeming about these vehicles is argued by the stiff gas-guzzler tax they carry; that there is much that’s personally redeeming is suggested by time in a Saleen’s Recaro driver’s seat, as we discovered when we drove it.

The g forces induced during the five brief seconds it took me to reach sixty miles per hour were only the most obvious of the sensations the car produced. On the quiet back road where we drove the Saleen, we learned that muscle today in cars, as in the NFL, means not just speed but quickness and moves. These the Saleen provided aplenty, thanks to suspension built around race-car struts, which let you dip and doodle, juke and jag happily. On the country blacktop, curve succeeded curve, and the Saleen settled into a rhythm at once aggressive and controlled.

Saleen’s cars look different, too, with blacked-out taillights and headlights that lend the vehicles a face like the Charlotte Hornet mascot’s. And they have the refinement of racers, not muscle cars: The brakes behind the body-colored eighteen-inch wheels are fully a match for the engine–sure in their grip, steady in their modulation.

The only danger is of ostentation: Saleens have become so well-known that six were offered as prizes in a recent McDonald’s sweepstakes.

Pop’s Hops
It sounds apocryphal. Jasper Johns heard what Willem de Kooning said about art dealer Leo Castelli: “You can give that son of a bitch two beer cans and he could sell them.” Ah, Johns thought, and with that sculptured Painted Bronze (left)–two years before Warhol’s soup cans. When you visit the Johns retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art this fall-his first in nearly twenty years–put the headset down and savor his immortalization of the prosaic. Notice, too, John’s paradoxes: how one can is open, the other closed, and, look closely, is one a hair taller? De Kooning, of course, was right. Castelli did sell the cans–for $1,000.


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.


For Immediate Release

IRVINE, CA – Saleen Performance, the new company formed to oversee the production of new Saleen automobiles, has moved their headquarters to 9 Whatney in Irvine, California.

The company has moved to a new facility at the high-tech “lrvine Spectrum” complex. The new building encompasses 28,000 square feet and provides separate modules for corporate headquarters including space for the Saleen race team, a full production wing dedicated solely to the construction of Saleen automobiles and Saleen Performance Parts.

Since the company’s inception in 1984, Saleen has produced nearly 3,500 vehicles, more than any other specialty manufacturer. This year, production is expected to exceed 500 vehicles. 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. For more information contact (714) 597-4900.

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

741-597-0201 FAX


For Immediate Release

Having produced more than 3,500 Mustangs, Saleen Performance has carved a niche for itself in the emerging specialty car manufacturing sector.

Saleen reaches customers throughout North America via a franchised new car dealership network of more than 75 locations, all staffed with a “Team Saleen” member who is versed in all aspects of Saleen Performance. At those outlets, customers can test drive, purchase and service Saleen vehicles.

Saleen differentiates itself from “tuner cars” for the following reasons:

  • While Saleen vehicles are offered in new car showrooms through Ford dealerships across the country. Tuner cars are not emission-certified as complete vehicles, and cannot be sold as new cars by a dealership.
  • Saleen builds a limited run (per each model year) of vehicles, each with matching specifications, unlike tuners, who build each vehicle based on the individual consumer’s preferences.
  • Each Saleen vehicle carries a comprehensive bumper-to-bumper warranty offered through Ford Motor Co. Most tuners make no such offer.
  • Saleen vehicles are serviced the same way other Ford vehicles are serviced. The vehicle can be brought back directly to the dealership for maintenance repairs.
  • Because Saleen is considered a manufacturer throughout the automotive industry, each car produced has a high resale value. Because tuners are considered modified cars, their resale value has traditionally be less than that for the base model.

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

741-597-0201 FAX


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

741-597-0201 FAX


By: BOB McCLURG on October, 1993



Whenever the name “Saleen” is spoken, either “Steve” or “Mustang” usually accompanies it. However, there is another “Saleen” that figures quite heavily into the over-all scheme of things. That particular Saleen is named “Elizabeth”, or just plain “Liz” to the legions of close friends who know her.

Elizabeth Summer is a by-product of the deep South, born into a modest household in Huntsville, Alabama. Liz and her sister – who still insists on being an “only child” were brought up around the Sixties aerospace industry (Huntsville is home to the NASA Flight Center) during a time when the names “Project Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo” were household words.

In the true Southern tradition, Liz was married at 19, and divorced with two young sons at age 25. Looking to start over again, she packed herself and her two babies into the car, and headed for the Left Coast. To pay bills, Liz took a Civil Servant’s job with the State of California, while obtaining her political science degree at night.

Eventually Summer worked her way up to an executive assistant position on the staff of California Governor Jerry Brown. Liz humorously relates that at the time “He” (Brown) drove an old beater Plymouth. I drove a 1975 Mustang!”

As a member of the Governor’s staff Liz traveled up and down the west coast between Sacramento and LA. for extended periods of time. It was during one of those flights that she met SCCA race car driver Steve Saleen. Later she took a job as Executive Assistant to Mickey Cantor (of recent Clinton Democratic Presidential Campaign fame) who had been appointed the US. Trade Representative. Because of the new job Liz relocated her family of three to LA.

By the dawn of the Eighties “Reaganism” bloomed, so this upwardly mobile young lady Democrat resigned from full-time politics to become the full-time Mrs. Steve Saleen. In 1981 the Saleens became the proud parents of Molly-Anne, one of two exciting events which occurred for them in the early Eighties. The second of course was the founding of their new enterprise, Saleen Autosport.

Operating as Elizabeth Summer, Liz became the full-time P.R. person for Saleen Autosport, Saleen Enterprises and the Saleen Racing Team. It was her job to generate publicity materials, put together brochures, function as press liaison between car enthusiast magazine editors and the company, act as a mouthpiece for the race team, coordinate travel activities, talk to sponsors, and just generally do whatever was required to make things click. By 1989, Liz had ascended to the position of Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for Saleen Autosport.

It’s been ten years since the Saleens founded the late-model Mustang specialty car business, and today Liz is busier than ever! While she still unofficially functions as the “front-woman” for the company, much of the P.R.-related activities have been passed along to a full time P.R. agent.

Instead, Liz now documents and maintains all of the historical and production data covering ten years worth of Saleen Mustang, Saleen SSC, Saleen SC and Saleen SportTruck production, as part of her “Team Saleen” activity. And, if that already wasn’t enough to do, Liz is also involved in publishing a Saleen Owner’s Registry which will be available soon! Busy hands are happy hands!


LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA (June 30, 1993) – Saleen Performance has announced it will build a special limited run of SA-10 Anniversary Edition Saleen Mustangs in celebration of the first 10 years of Saleen production. The 10 cars, all hatchbacks, will be the final Saleen production cars for the ’93 model year and for this 14-year-old body style. Hatchbacks were specifically chosen because they will be dropped from the Mustang lineup with the introduction of the new ’94 models. A number of features will contribute to the special collector’s status of the anniversary edition Saleens including sequential VIN numbers through special arrangement with Ford, and the ability to provide buyers with a degree of customization through purchasing directly from Saleen Performance.

In a tribute to 10 years of production, the SA-10’s will incorporate something old and something new. Proven performance modifications developed over each of the production years will blend with a variety of new items including a new Saleen design lightweight composite hood, bolt-in rollbar, 3 piece 17 inch Saleen wheels, Saleen Panhard rod, Saleen rear shock tower brace and supercharger/ceramic coated header power package. The interior will receive a special black leather package with Saleen stitching, new gray Saleen gauge faces and a CD player. All 10 cars will receive a unique black, yellow and white paint and graphics treatment to commemorate the championship winning Saleen race teams. This year’s World Challenge race team will carry a similar paint scheme including special 10th anniversary graphics.

Saleen, the most successful specialty car maker in the U.S. today, has built over 3,000 vehicles over the past 10 years. Only Carroll Shelby has been more prolific.

In the incredibly popular 5.0 liter Ford performance market only Saleen Mustangs are EPA certified for dealership sales. The Team Saleen Ford dealership network puts a Saleen Mustang within a two-hour drive of practically any location in the U.S.

For more information, contact: Saleen Performance 1827 Ximeno Ave., Suite 310, Long Beach, CA 90806 310-424 8065



By: BOB McCLURG on June, 1993


When John McCauley purchased his Saleen Mustang in 1990, he was like many other Saleen buyers – interested in high performance! John had owned two Mustang GTs in, and although both were fine cars, he openly admits that he wasn’t quite ready for “the Saleen Experience”.

A self-titled “old-fart-throwback” from the Sixties musclecar era, John began a life-long association, or “life-long commitment,” to cars with the purchase of an MGA roadster which promptly broke down five miles from the dealership. McCauley feels the MG experience was “a young man’s fantasy gone astray over the needs of an automobile.” By the time he sold the car to trade up to a more practical “family” car, he had the little import running like a fine Swiss watch.

However, John’s idea of a family car was anything but your typical station wagon. A special order 1967 Chevy Nova two door with 275 hp/327, 4-speed, Posi rear and front disc brakes was what John McCauley thought a family car should be. He fondly remembers both drag racing and slaloming the car while stationed with the US. Navy in Pensacola, Florida. It was there that John got his first taste of what a “real” car – namely a Ford Mustang – was all about. “I remember I was always coming up short against this one Mustang at the local Corvette Club slaloms. I sold the Nova to a friend for far more than what it was worth, and purchased my first Mustang, a 1969 Mach-1. “Man that thing flat flew”!

John’s conversion to Ford products firmly took hold. With a growing family, his next car was a 1971 Gran Torino. That would be his last high-performance car for a while, that is, until 1984 when he purchased his first Mustang GT. McCauley drove the GT until 1988, and then passed it on to his daughter with the arrival of an even newer GT. John soon learned that the feeling a late-model Mustang gives you is, “like no other, stopping short of the standard reference to sex”, and he found himself continuously testing his the prowess of every “bowtie” he ran up against.

With Saleen ownership came the desire to join some type of Saleen enthusiast’s organization. Answering an advertisement for the Saleen Registry in a magazine, McCauley soon found himself becoming extremely involved in the club, to the extent that he was eventually elected to the office of Vice President. Unfortunately, the Registry was underfunded and politically constricted leaving McCauley looking for something else. “As it (the club) was on its way out in 1991, I called Saleen, and decided to express my interest in forming a national club.” The Saleens were skeptical, and Steve basically told John “don’t tell me, show me!”

With the gauntlet thrown down, John organized the first Saleen outing to the Ford Motorsport Nationals (Maple Grove, Pennsylvania) followed by yet another at the US. Ford Nationals at National Trails Raceway in Columbus, Ohio. Similar meetings were also staged at the Saleen Performance Parts “Cruisin’ the Queen” car show in Long Beach, California, and at Watkins Glen, New York. It was at the ‘Glen that McCauley again met with the Saleens, and was given their official blessing. Hence the Saleen Owner’s and Enthusiast’s Club (SOEC) was born.

“Our long term goals are to establish a comprehensive registry of our Saleens, maintain sources for “obsolete” Saleen parts, provide sponsorship for show and track events, and to promote ownership of our vehicles. Our deepest hope is that we can document the history of these cars and trucks while the information is still current instead of having to resurrect it some twenty years later!” Go to it John!


Contact: Steve Saleen


LONG BEACH, CA, September 30, 1992. . . . Steve Saleen and Saleen Performance Parts are proud to announce the lineup of the 1993 Saleen Mustangs, GT Sport and Saleen Sportrucks. 1993 celebrates the 1oth model year of the Saleen Mustang and promises to be the best Saleen Mustang yet! New for 1993 is the 50 state legal, Vortech/Saleen supercharger that will produce 325+ hp. We have also added our own design 17″ wheel and have restyled the front air dam and graphics.

The Saleen Mustang SC is producing well over 400hp using the supercharger and Dart II cylinder heads. Large Brembo 4 piston caliper brakes and a Tremec/Saleen 5 speed transmission are also new for 1993.

After a brief association with Cars and Concepts building the cars in St. Louis, Mo., and many false promises and representations from an investment group (Saleen Enterprises), Saleen has decided to take more of a “hands on” approach to the sale and building of the vehicles. This will be done under Saleen Performance with offices and production based in Long Beach, CA. The new address and telephone number are:

Saleen Performance
1827 Ximeno Ave.
Suite 310
Long Beach, CA 90815
(310) 424-8065

For additional information regarding vehicle test drive scheduling please feel free to contact us directly at the above number.

Click here to participate in the discussion.


The staff at Saleen Performance Parts, Inc. would like to cordially invite our southern California retail customers to a special preview of our new retail showroom/ installation center on Saturday February 23rd, from 8:30AM to 5:00PM. Our new location is 3080 29th Street, Long Beach, CA. 90606.

Stop in and see our Saleen Mustangs on display, visit the guys and check out the latest in high performance Mustang conversions, parts and accessories.

Among the scheduled event for the day will be:

  • Door prizes awarded every hour
  • Technical seminars on:
  • * Suspension improvements
  • * Engine/ driveline performance
  • * Performance driving tips by Steve Saleen
  • A complete “while you watch” Saleen suspension installation
  • Steve Saleen autographed t-shirts and posters
  • Food and drink (free popcorn)

The events begin at 8:30AM so come join in the fun and help celebrate the opening of promises to be the new standard of excellence in Mustang performance installations!!!