2005 S281 Extreme


Smokin’ Performance From The “Big E”

February 11, 2005 – Chicago Auto Show – Five hundred horsepower. Four hundred eighty pound-feet of torque. Those are serious performance numbers. And we’re not talking Saleen S7 supercar or some other exotic. No, we’re talking 2005 Saleen S281 Extreme or E for short.

2005 S281 Extreme
2005 S281 Extreme

The S281 E represents the pinnacle of the S281 lineup, which also includes the 325bhp S281 3-Valve and the 400bhp S281 Supercharged muscle cars. With 500 snorting ponies and 480 tire-twisting lb-ft of torque, the E will show its twin center exhaust pipes to plenty of sports cars boasting much higher price tags: Porsche 911, Maserati Coupe and BMW Z8 to name just three.

Like the S281 3Valve and SC models, the Extreme starts life on the same great platform Ford has provided via the 2005 Mustang’s all-new architecture. But the cutting-edge S281 E sets up residence in performance territory never explored by a production Ford Mustang.

This newest member of the Saleen S281 performance trilogy is manufactured with the latest in Saleen race-bred technology. At the heart of the S281 E is a unique Saleen-manufactured, high-revving, 4.6liter powerplant built in-house. The 281 cubic-inch V8 uses a special forged steel Saleen crankshaft, Saleen forged steel connecting rods, Saleen-patented forged aluminum pistons and unique Saleen aluminum cylinder heads featuring special valve springs and the latest Saleen performance camshafts.

In addition to the increased rpm available with the E engine, a Saleen-designed Series VI integrated TwinScrew supercharger with two-stage water-to-air inter-cooling is installed. This supercharger is so innovative that Saleen has several patents pending on the design.

Essentially, the Saleen design integrates the previously separate intake manifold, blower housing/assembly and intercooler into one compact unit that nestles neatly into the valley between the heads. This allows for a much wider intake manifold.

Some other significant design features of the Saleen supercharger:

    • It features an integrated bypass for low-speed running; when you are driving at low speeds and don’t require boost, the bypass helps reduce heat buildup in the engine. The Saleen design provides for optimal runner length, resulting in more torque and better low-end drivability.
    • All bends are opened up to provide smooth airflow.
    • It features long, beefy downdraft runners with minimal bends for maximizing torque and horsepower. On the previous design, the air had to make two 180-degree bends. The new design provides a straight, direct shot into the cylinders and about a 50 percent increase in flow compared to last year’s supercharger.
    • The new design is much more maintenance-friendly. It has only one sealing surface; the previous supercharger had four. In addition, you only have to remove the eight screws that bolt the air tube to the plenum for access to all of the blower components. Previously, you had to remove the supercharger assembly from the engine and then disassemble it.
2005 S281 Extreme
2005 S281 Extreme

A PowerFlash performance computer—a sophisticated Saleen-designed engine management control system—determines the precise fuel, air and spark requirement for every running condition. It operates in conjunction with a new-for-2005 engine knock sensor system, allowing the engine to make use of premium fuel for maximum power and torque while minimizing fuel consumption and engine detonation.

The engine is also fitted with a Saleen free-flow air cleaner element.

The exhaust system is an innovative “variable design,” featuring twin mufflers with vacuum-actuated valves that open above a specified back pressure. When these valves open, a portion of the exhaust gases is routed through a second set of tail pipes pointed at the ground.

This design offers numerous advantages. It allows the engine to be calibrated to produce higher torque. Secondly, it provides a free-flowing exhaust system, while still providing the capability for passing mandated pass-by noise regulations in the U.S., Canada and U.K. Thirdly, it makes for some lovely exhaust sounds at wide-open throttle.

The exhaust side of the engine also features a full 2-1/2inch stainless steel exhaust system, running from the exhaust manifold outlet to the tip of the exhaust pipes.

The S281E V8 is coupled to a Saleen heavy-duty 6-speed manual transmission and a high-performance flywheel/clutch disc assembly. Power is delivered to the rear wheels via a Saleen custom balanced driveshaft and a performance differential assembly featuring a Saleen MaxGrip, speed-sensitive, limited-slip differential.

Big power numbers require big brakes. To handle 500 bhp and 480 lb-ft of torque, the E is fitted with 1-piece, 14-inch front brake rotors, the same size brakes used on the 200mph Ford GT. A four-channel anti-lock braking system and all-speed traction control provide additional assistance during emergency maneuvers.

Naturally, the E features a complete Saleen Racecraft suspension system including racing-inspired springs, shocks and anti-roll bars. In addition, the E receives special Saleen boxed rear lower control arms and a Panhard rod specific to this model. The Panhard rod provides precise lateral control of the E’s live rear axle, helping keep the tires flat on the road for greater cornering power and more precise handling.

The E features a 20-inch alloy wheel at all four corners. Those up front are 9-inches wide; the rears are 10 inches. Standard on the Extreme are ultra high-performance Pirelli P Zero Rossos, 275/35ZR20s up front with 275/40ZR20s fitted to the rears.

2005 S281 Extreme
2005 S281 Extreme

Visually, the E is distinguished from the other two S281 models by a unique aero package, including a distinctive front splitter and a rear diffuser, plus a different rear quarter window treatment. Lighting the way are standard Saleen HID headlamps. The interior features a number of Saleen exclusives. A few of these include unique Saleen gauges with black backgrounds, white numbers and easy-to-read silver needles with black inserts, satin aluminum trim, painted accents, Saleen door sill plates and S281 floor mats. Each car also comes with an individualized Saleen VIN number stamped in the chassis, on a dash plaque and on the front bumper. S281 SC and S281E models also feature a Saleen twin gauge pod with readouts for boost and air temperature.

More standard features than ever before include one-touch up/down power windows, power mirrors, keyless entry and power locks, a heated rear window, interval wipers, MP3 capability and a MyColor custom instrument panel. The industry- first, color-configurable MyColor instrument panel offers the ultimate in personalization. S281E owners can mix and match lighting at the touch of a button to create more than 125 different color backgrounds to suit their personality, mood, outfit or whim.

Options include a summer performance tire package consisting of super-sticky Pirelli 285/35ZR19 Corsa tires all around, a Shaker 500 audio system with 500 watts of output and a six-disc CD player. Incidentally, both the standard and optional E wheel and tire packages are also available on the 3-Valve and Supercharged models.

Powered by a supercharged small block V8 producing 500 pavement-shredding horsepower and capable of generating performance figures of around 4.5 sec from 0-60 mph and quarter-mile numbers of about 12.1 sec at 117 mph, comparisons with the 500bhp Corvette Z06 model that Chevrolet will introduce later this year are inevitable.

The S281E is scheduled for introduction in July of 2005, and the price will be announced at that time.