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DRIVETRIBE: THE SALEEN S7 STORY

Nearly 20 years on, the Saleen S7 is proving itself a classic

By: TOM WILSON on August, 2019
Original Article: DRIVETRIBE.COM

Nineteen years after its introduction and twelve years since it went out of series production, the Saleen S7 supercar is again attracting considerable attention. A new generation of enthusiasts is re-discovering the classically handsome, race-bred Saleen with still mind-bending performance. Plus, Saleen’s recent expansion into China has exposed the S7 to a giant new market that’s running up the S7 search engine hits on the Internet. But along with this new interest has come much speculation and mis-information about the iconic supercar and its origins.

Some of the mystery is due to the relatively thin official technical and build information available about the big Saleen. The early-aughts were hectic days at Saleen and there wasn’t the time or interest from the enthusiast magazines of the time to delve deeply into the details of the supercar’s origin. Saleen press materials had laid out the basics, the magazines had covered that and their driving impressions in new car reviews, the car sold itself on merit and there was plenty of international S7 racing to support, plus the whole business of building Saleen Mustangs. But aside from those early magazine reports, there’s been nothing of substance on the S7 story in many years; today that’s lead to a bit of unintended mystery surrounding the car, at least to those not familiar with the effort.

Now spanning 19 years, the Saleen S7 story has evolved from the completely unexpected upstart at its 2000 debut to a timelessly classic supercar as epitomized by the mega-powerful 2019 S7 Le Mans edition seen at the Corona, Calif. headquarters.
Now spanning 19 years, the Saleen S7 story has evolved from the completely unexpected upstart at its 2000 debut to a timelessly classic supercar as epitomized by the mega-powerful 2019 S7 Le Mans edition seen at the Corona, Calif. headquarters.

If there’s anything the Internet can’t support, it’s the mystery and all sorts of hokum that has surfaced regarding the S7. Eager enthusiasts can perhaps be forgiven for making assumptions about the car’s origins, but the amount of speculative, un-researched and downright wrong ‘journalism’ surrounding the S7 on the Internet is shameful and tilting toward the absurd.

The S7 truth is simple enough and follows the narrative laid out in the legitimate press during the car’s introduction. To briefly review, in 1999, Steve Saleen, realised the existing Mustang-based race car – the Saleen Mustang SR as campaigned in the U.S. and at Le Mans in 1997 – had reached the end of its development life. He ultimately decided to build his own, all-new race car, and by starting with a clean computer screen, opted for a mid-engine layout with a goal of winning the LMGT1 class at Le Mans.

While the previous Saleen Mustang SR racers had evolved from street cars into race cars, the S7 was from the beginning a dual-purpose machine, a race car simultaneously developed as a street car. Steve not only wanted a winner at the most demanding sportscar race in the world, but also a purebred sports/supercar for the street. During the car’s design, the racing and street versions were kept amazingly similar, which explains why the S7 has always been a no-excuses driver’s car, one which in street form easily preserves the directness and honesty of its racing roots. It also belies any misplaced concept that the S7 was some revision of an existing design; it’s simply too specialized for that; combining its thumping V8 and high downforce aero package are incompatible with any previous designs.

Steve Saleen was present at every step of the S7’s development. Here he and Billy Tally discuss the S7 engine with Neil Hannemann looking on.
Steve Saleen was present at every step of the S7’s development. Here he and Billy Tally discuss the S7 engine with Neil Hannemann looking on.

While Saleen as a company was well-versed in racing and speciality car manufacturing in 1999, like any car maker it needed to augment its engineering and fabrication capabilities when laying down their supercar’s chassis and suspension. After all, creating a Le Mans chassis from scratch requires specialized engineering and prototyping skills, especially when the latest, F1-level of aerodynamic knowledge is being sought. So, Saleen went looking for specialist contractors and found them, not unexpectedly, in the home of international road racing, the English Midlands. Besides its technical advantages, the Midlands also offered remoteness from the U.S. automotive scene and thus eased the security that such projects require.

While the prototype S7’s all-new, honeycomb-reinforced space frame chassis came together in England, back in Irvine, California Steve directed Saleen’s in-house race engineer and all-round secret weapon, Billy Tally, to develop an American-style cam-in-block V-8 for the new car. Leveraging extensive motorcycle, NASCAR and off-road racing experience into the S7’s namesake 7.0-litre V8, Saleen specified his own block casting, innovative clutch, starter, intake, dry-sump oiling, NASCAR-derived cylinder heads and front engine dress to package the powerplant in a mid-engine chassis. Saleen also determined all engine internals and tuning, including camming, electronic tuning and valvetrain oil spray system. Dyno development was done by Tally in Southern California and the engines built in-house at Saleen. Transaxles were RBT units on street cars and Xtrac on S7R race cars.

S7 development and production was based completely in Saleen’s Irvine, Calif., headquarters.
S7 development and production was based completely in Saleen’s Irvine, Calif., headquarters.

All S7s, both street and race, naturally-aspirated or turbocharged, have used this engine with only minor variations. The exception is the final Le Mans edition S7s. More the product of 2019 engineering, they retain the 427’s 7.0-litre displacement and bottom end, but have seen considerable changes in the cylinder heads, intake, turbos, charge cooling and a generational advancement in electronic engine management to arrive at 1,300bhp on gasoline and just shy of 1,500bhp when running E85 ethanol/gasoline fuel and 20+lbs of boost. The original engine was equally capable. In its first, naturally aspirated trim it was rated at 550bhp; adding twin turbochargers to it in the S7 Twin Turbo model bumped its rating to 750bhp via a mere 4.5lbs of boost. A pair of optional, non-street legal upgrades bumped the TT all the way to 1000bhp for track use at just 8lbs of boost.

Along with the chassis built by Ray Mallock (RML) in the English Midlands, and engine development at Saleen in Irvine, Calif., the S7’s body and interior were designed by Steve and Phil Frank, the latter having exercised his considerable talents at Saleen for five years by the time of the S7 project in 1999-2000. Aerodynamic work in England and the wind tunnel at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, plus rules requirements of the ACO organization running the Le Mans race were factors in the S7’s shape, a form that Phil and Steve worked especially closely together on.

When the S7 debuted in August 2000 at the Monterey Historic Races, it was both a complete surprise to the public and a prototype still some way from series production. Much work remained to arrive at a saleable street car, or even more immediately, a workable race car.

Before 2005 when the Twin Turbo street version of the S7 appeared, essentially every system, part and manufacturing process of the S7 was U.S. based, mainly in Saleen’s own Irvine facility or by a few remaining contractors. The chassis took form in Saleen’s in-house fabrication shop, the engines were built in the Saleen engine shop, the bodywork laid out in Saleen’s carbon shop and painted in the Saleen paint shop, the interior crafted in the Saleen upholstery shop and the whole car assembled on Saleen’s dedicated S7 assembly line.

List of S7 Contractors

No automaker designs or builds something as complex as a new car without the aid of skilled specialist contractors. Some of those individuals and companies that contributed to the S7 success are:

• Aria Group (USA)

• Brembo S.p.A. (Italy)

• Andy Coventry, Williams F1 aerodynamicist (UK)

• Frazero (UK)

• Lola Cars International (CTS carbon fiber division) (UK)

• Ray Mallock Limited (UK)

• RBT Transmissions (USA)

• University of Scotland (UK)

• Xtrac Transmission Technology (UK)

Series production of the S7 took place completely on the Irvine, Calif. S7 assembly line. Saleen Mustang production is just visible in the background.
Series production of the S7 took place completely on the Irvine, Calif. S7 assembly line. Saleen Mustang production is just visible in the background.

As a race car, the S7R was, like the street car, a major success, winning over 100 professional events and proving one of the outstanding customer racecars of the modern era. Its combination of blistering speed, durability, easy serviceability and support from the Saleen factory ensured its steady employment among teams contesting IMSA, ALMS, FIA and Le Mans series events in the United States and abroad. And yes, it did – finally – win its GT class at Le Mans in 2010.

Such racing success significantly differentiates the S7 from its supercar classmates, nearly all of which are street-centric. As a rule, such supercars are certainly capable, but tuned to protect the more exuberantly enthusiastic drivers rather then reward the skilled. By comparison, the track-bred S7 is honed right to the edge and delivers a far less-filtered, purer driving experience that’s loud and high effort because that’s the way hardcore driver cars are. It’s not for everyone, but it gives those in the know a uniquely authentic race car experience and doesn’t hurt the car’s honestly earned cache one bit.

Critics have called the S7 out precisely for its elemental approach, saying the project was too large for Saleen to complete, or hinting it was somehow not really a Saleen product and was opportunistically brought in from elsewhere. Nothing could be further from the truth. There’s more of Steve Saleen in the S7 than any other car he’s built.

When the S7 was publicly unveiled at Pebble Beach in 2000, it ushered in a new era of supercar design and performance.
When the S7 was publicly unveiled at Pebble Beach in 2000, it ushered in a new era of supercar design and performance.

He conceived the very idea of the car, directed every aspect of its engineering and design, was its chief development driver and has been hands-on for every step of the S7 story. In return, the S7 inarguably cemented Saleen’s reputation as a manufacturer, so much so that in 2002, the Ford Motor Company contracted Saleen for the engineering, painting and manufacturing of its own supercar, the first generation Ford GT, in a Saleen assembly plant.

Today, although long out of production save the final handful of Le Mans edition cars, the S7 continues as the Saleen flagship, still drawing attention both in the West and in China where its star power has visibly anchored the immense Saleen initiative there. It’s a natural job for the S7 as its direct approach to driving, prodigious performance and timeless styling have made it a modern classic among supercars.


Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson’s three decades of full-time auto journalism have included a 16-year association with Road & Track magazine, features and new car reviews for MSN Autos and editing Super Ford magazine, along with several technical books and aviation writing. Tom has driven nearly every Saleen model ever built and has chronicled the S7 story since the start. He is currently working on the definitive S7 book set for publication by next year.

[Source: DriveTribe]

1995 S351 R-CODE (95-0095) HITS “RACING JUNK”

1995 Saleen S351 Mustang

1995 S351 R-Code, 95-0095
1995 S351 R-Code, 95-0095

Price: $35,000.00
Private Seller: jimbos
Location: Burke, VA
Contact: (703) 728-0404

Item Details:
Ad Number: 183955623
Condition: Used
Mileage: 18,000

Description
1995 Saleen S351 R code. #95. White/Blue saleen stripe. excellent original condition. Documented in Saleen Registry. Saleen Black Leather. Magnesium wheels. other options.

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[Source: Racing Junk]

AUTOMOBILE: 2019 SALEEN S302 BLACK LABEL REVIEW

2019 SALEEN S302 BLACK LABEL REVIEW: EIGHT. HUNDRED. HORSEPOWER.
This supercharged Ford Mustang is a hell of a machine.

BY: AARON GOLD | PHOTOGRAPHY BY: ED TAHANEY on AUGUST 29, 2019
Original Article: AUTOMOBILEMAG.COM

Eight-hundred horsepower.

Let that figure marinate in your brain. Roll it around and taste it like fine wine.

If you don’t really consider its implications, 800 is just a number, another one-up in the ever-escalating struggle for horsepower bragging rights. But it’s significant, and essentially doubles the threshold for the most serious muscle cars of the 1960s and ’70s. Subtract it from a base Dodge Challenger Hellcat, and you’ll get nearly a Chevrolet Spark’s worth of power in change.

Eight-hundred horsepower is what you’ll get should you opt for Saleen Automotive’s current latest and greatest package for the Ford Mustang GT, the Saleen S302 Black Label. We’d call it the pinnacle of Saleen’s 35-year history of tuning Mustangs were we not nearly certain something even more bonkers is just around the corner.

And this car is bonkers. Since the obvious comparison is with Dodge’s 797-hp Challenger Hellcat Redeye (we’ve yet to drive Ford’s 760-hp Shelby GT500), we’ll compare away. Both cars are equally willing to stun you, but they do it in very different ways.

2019 Saleen S302 Black Label
2019 Saleen S302 Black Label

The Hellcat is all torque, all the time, to the point that it’s nearly impossible to open the throttle wide on a public road. Floor it from a standstill and you turn the tires to butter; floor it on the move and in two seconds you’re at automatic license-suspension speeds. On paper, the Saleen’s 687 lb-ft splits the difference between base (656) and Redeye (707) Hellcats, but the Saleen doesn’t unleash full boost unless you’re high on revs and deep into the throttle.

This has the advantage of giving you better control over the power, but it also means the throttle response is ridiculously twitchy at high revs and low accelerator positions, to the point that a bumpy road can shake your foot enough to set the car porpoising rather alarmingly. Smooth progress requires shifting up early, and that puts you a gearchange away from showing off the Black Label’s potential. (We suspect the throttle response is tuned to provide some protection for the Ford Coyote engine.)

But when the conditions are just right to unleash all 800 horses, the sensation can only be described with a string of expletives upon which common decency would frown. We’ve driven plenty of fast and loud cars, but few deliver the noise and fury of the S302 Black Label at full tilt. It’s as if all the evil in the universe has been released on an unsuspecting society—but it’s okay, because you’re in charge.

Happier yet is the fact that you don’t need to go WOT to revel in the Black Label’s absurdity. Just starting the engine produces one of the best exhaust notes ever to reverberate against the walls of our El Segundo headquarters. Noisy cars, enjoyable as they are in short bursts, can wear on the nerves after a while, but we never tired of the S302’s almighty rumble.

There’s more to the Black Label than the powertrain. Saleen also beefs up the suspension with Racecraft springs, dampers, struts, and anti-roll bars, and a bastion of body panels massage airflow to increase downforce as well as brake and engine cooling.

We took the S302 Black Label to our favorite canyon road and cautiously ramped up our pace. It was early morning and the roads were still damp with morning dew, so we were extra cautious with the accelerator, but as we built up speed we were impressed with how well the S302 gripped the pavement, especially at the back. In other words, if you’re going to drive an 800-hp car, this is the way to do it.

2019 Saleen S302 Black Label
2019 Saleen S302 Black Label

Now, lest you think the S302 Black Label is as tractable as a Volkswagen Golf R, think again. You can’t just jump in and drive fast; you need to take your time, commune with it, get used to its ways and let it get used to you. And before you manipulate any of the controls—especially in anger—you need to think carefully about what will happen next.

It’s worth noting that at the same time we drove the Black Label car, we also had an S302 White Label, which combines many (but not all) of the Black Label’s suspension, airflow, and interior upgrades with a non-supercharged 430-hp engine. A few people in the office have opined that the White Label is the better car to drive because you can floor the throttle with reckless abandon and not worry about disastrous consequences—in other words, it’s a better way to enjoy the rest of Saleen’s upgrades.

Still, the S302 Black Label reminded us of the vagaries that come with driving a tuner car. We had a couple of glitches with power delivery at full throttle. The speedometer does the opposite of many performance cars and reads a few mph low, as if the car weren’t enough of a ticket magnet already. And while we can’t be sure, it seemed like the gravelly noises from the supercharger became louder as our time with the car marched on. Based on experience, it’s likely that the factory supercharged Shelby GT500, like the Hellcat, will be a better integrated and more holistic product for less money. That said, the GT500 will only come with a dual-clutch automatic, whereas the Black Label gets a six-speed manual.

And then there’s the simple fact that 800 horses are gonna eat a lot of hay. Drive it like a sane person and the supercharged S302’s fuel economy isn’t too terrible, but once you tap into the boost, the fuel flow is akin to Niagara Falls. We’re talking single-digit gas mileage, which means you must keep a careful eye on the fuel gauge when driving fast.

Still, the S302 Black Label is a hell of a machine, delivering a mind-bending horsepower number with all the attendant Wagnerian drama one could hope for. Some people will dismiss it as ridiculous overkill—but those people aren’t driving around in 800-hp cars.

2019 Saleen S302 Black Label Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $78,495 (base)
ENGINE 5.0L supercharged DOHC 32-valve V-8; 800 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 687 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual
LAYOUT 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE N/A
L x W x H 188.5 x 75.9 x 54.2 in
WHEELBASE 107.1 in
WEIGHT 3,765 lb
0–60 MPH 3.7 sec
TOP SPEED N/A

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[Source: Automobile Magazine]

SALEEN AUTOMOTIVE EXPANDS U.S. & GLOBAL BUSINESS

SALEEN AUTOMOTIVE EXPANDS U.S. AND GLOBAL BUSINESS
WITH NEW FIVE-YEAR PLAN

Steve Saleen celebrates 35 years with ‘Vision 2020’ plan, establishing over 25 brand experience retail stores in the U.S.and expanding into new global markets with business partnership in China

CORONA, Calif. (July 23, 2019) – After 35 years of automotive industry accomplishments, and close to five decades of racing milestones, Steve Saleen is only just getting started.

The legendary racer-turned-automaker is celebrating the 35th anniversary of his founding of Saleen Automotive to announce “Vision 2020,” a major five-year expansion plan for the California company starting next year – which, thanks to pioneering new model launches and a global business partnership, will be the most eventful half-decade in its history.

At the core of Saleen’s future is the Saleen 1, the turbocharged, 450hp mid-engine sportscar designed in the spirit of the legendary Saleen S7, the most successful supercar in motorsports history. At a projected MSRP of $100K, the Saleen 1 delivers a “sports car with supercar credentials,” combining Saleen design and styling with racing-inspired performance.

To meet exponential growth in demand for performance vehicles in China, Saleen announced a business partnership with Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technology, Co. (JSAT) that will help Saleen expand its footprint into growing global markets with an emphasis on China. The joint venture leverages Saleen’s world-class design and engineering expertise with the mass production capabilities of JSAT – which recently completed construction of a 2.5 million square foot manufacturing plant in Rugao City, near Shanghai.

JSAT’s world-class automated production facility has ample production capacity to cater for the surging demand for sports cars and passenger vehicles in China. The first Saleen vehicles for the Chinese market roll off the assembly lines in 2020, including an original Steve Saleen-designed and racing-inspired SUV model and Saleen 1 sports car for distribution in China. Saleen Automotive will produce the Saleen 1 at a U.S. manufacturing facility for sales in the U.S. market.

Today’s announcement by the founder and CEO of Saleen Automotive comes days after a high-profile ‘Saleen Night’ event hosted by Steve Saleen and Charles Wang, CEO of Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technology, at the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium in Beijing. In addition to announcements by Wang and Saleen celebrating the arrival of the Saleen brand to China, the star-studded July 20 event included a performance by Chinese pop star Kris Wu and a special appearance by action movie star Jason Statham, who is a brand ambassador for Saleen in China.

The attending audience of over 24,000 people were treated to demonstration laps of the new Saleen 1 models, Saleen S7 supercar and the unveiling of the new Saleen-designed SUV model by world famous stunt driver Tanner Foust, and Saleen Cup racers Martina Kwan and Hanna Zellers. The festivities were broadcast live by CCTV to more than 100 million households in China.

For the U.S. domestic market, a key focus for Saleen in 2020 is strengthening and renewing its retail operations, increasing the number of dealers supporting the best-in-class Saleen Signature vehicles, including the Saleen S302 Mustang and Saleen Sportruck models and establishing new retail facilities in over 25 cities throughout North America. These retail locations will include company-owned and operated “Saleen Experience” stores, which provide an immersive interaction with the Saleen brand and products – plus a close look at the company’s extensive racing success and history.

Separately, the company has plans to establish multiple dedicated Saleen Original dealerships throughout North America that will provide a sales and service network for the new Saleen 1 sports car, iconic Saleen S7 supercar and other upcoming original Saleen vehicles.

Following the company’s return to motorsports in 2019 with the introduction of the Saleen Cup “arrive and drive” racing series showcasing the all-new Saleen 1 sports car, Saleen is also reinforcing its commitment to professional motorsports in 2020 with the official team entry to the GT4 series with SRO World Challenge and also introducing the Saleen China GT, which will bring the first “arrive and drive” racing series to Asia, also starting next year.

About Saleen Automotive, Inc.

Saleen is dedicated to transforming the transportation experience. For over 35 years, the California-based automotive manufacturer has redefined driving through high-performing vehicles that combine championship-winning racing pedigree with innovative technology and distinctive styling.

From the first Saleen Mustang in 1984 to the legendary S7 in 2000 and the groundbreaking new Saleen 1, founder Steve Saleen has continually set the bar for vehicle design and performance engineering on streets and racetracks worldwide. In addition to its distinctive Saleen Signature and Saleen Original vehicle lines, Saleen offers a wide variety of technical parts, lifestyle accessories and apparel for those with a passion for performance. Learn more at www.saleen.com.

Contacts
Media Contact:
Saleen PR – Collin Whitley
cwhitley@Saleen.com

[Source: Saleen Automotive]

SPP PRE-ORDER FOR 1999 THROUGH 2009 WHEELS

From our friend Spring Hebler.

Saleen Performance Parts to Reintroduce Wheels for 1999 through 2009 Saleen Mustangs

Breaking News!

Saleen Performance has just announced they are taking pre-orders for these long-obsolete and much-in-demand Saleen Mustang wheel sets for your 1999-04 and 2005-09 Mustang.

Whether it’s the 1999-04 5-spoke, 18″x9″/10″ wheels, or the 2005-09 7-spoke “Wagon Wheel” style, 20″x9″/10″ wheels, pre-order yours today!

Pre-orders must be prepaid, with a production forecast of 5-6 months. Sold in full sets only. Available in standard silver metallic or chrome.

For details and to provide payment information, please contact Spring Hebler at Saleen Performance via email, shebler@saleenperformance.com or call 800-888-8945 with your name, phone number and desired vehicle fitment.

You can also join Spring’s list on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spring.c.hebler

Be sure to mention you saw it on the Saleen Forums at soec.org!

Remember, you must pre-order and pre-pay to help make this happen and to guarantee you get your wheels!

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RESTORATION COMPLETE: SALEEN S7 03-031R

By: FLORENT MOULIN

We are very proud to present a selection of pictures of the Saleen S7R GT1 chassis 031R after its in-house restoration by Art & Revs. It was a real joy and moment of pride to put the car in our studio after working so hard for such a result.

The great 031R was ordered together with 029R in late 2003 by ACEMCO, an important US company in the motor car industry in the US. The aim was to compete at the highest level in ALMS and Le Mans, notably against the factory Corvettes ran by Pratt & Miller. ACEMCO had by this time built up a fantastic racing team around Ron Mack and Jim Bell.

This legendary car raced in the 2005 ALMS including an 8th overall finish at Sebring 12 Hours and it finished second in the Championship. The pinnacle of its history came certainly in 2006 when it raced at Le Mans 24 hours, finishing an impressive 11th place overall, making 031R the first Saleen to ever finish the world’s most prestigious endurance race. This important result bears testimony to the car’s performance and reliability.

The car was not used in 2007 and 2008, and was sold to Europe in 2009 to be raced in the FIA GT Championship with K Plus K, driven by Karl Wendlinger and Ryan Sharp, notably winning Silverstone’s Tourist Trophy among other motorsport firsts. Back then the competition between Maserati, Aston Martin, Ferrari and Saleen was at its height.

Very few know the S7R’s history and that the first series of S7Rs were actually engineered and built at RML in UK. However the « Evo » version was totally re-engineered by Saleen in their all new factory at Irvine in California, this is where they also built the 4,000 Ford GTs on behalf of Ford. 029R & 031R were the first Evo cars built and accordingly benefited from all new chassis, suspension, gearbox and aero. The Saleen S7 7.0 liter engines were in fact built from Ford`s 5.0 liter « small » block and reliability has always been a real issue. It has to be said that the engines built at Roush-Yates have always been disappointing and notably deprived most of the S7Rs from finishing Le Mans.

In the first stages of their Saleen project, ACEMCO being generously funded, contracted Panoz ( Elan Technologies ) to build up a 7.0 liter version of their largely proven LMP900 engine, originally a 6.0 liter. The Elan 7.0 liter was a total success and ACEMCO would never retire because of an engine failure. In unrestricted specifications, 031R’s engine recently shown 728 HP on the dyno at Elan after its rebuild. Only the two original ACEMCO cars would actually be equipped with the fantastic Elan engine and four units were built.

031R was completely stripped down to its bare components by Art & Revs and meticulously restored and reassembled by our highly skilled staff, most of whom have a large experience in Formula 1 or Endurance.All of the car’s components were reconditioned or replaced in close collaboration with the original suppliers wherever possible, just like the engine which was rebuilt at Elan. For safety purposes, the major components were crack tested.

This highly iconic silver S7R is now ready for new adventures on the historic racing scene and more widely in the classic car world. This is a great part of the Saleen S7R legend, the first all-American supercar to ever compete at Le Mans and in major international championships.

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[Source: Art & Revs]

22nd ANNUAL SALEEN CAR SHOW & OPEN HOUSE

PHOTOS: LLORENTE LACAP

2018 marked the 22nd year of our annual Saleen Show and Open House. This year, attendees were treated to a special presentation for the 2019 SA-35 Mustang. This 35th anniversary edition will exclusively be available in black paint with yellow and white accents. The SA-35 will be limited to a production run of 10 units.

A number of special Saleen vehicles were on display from past model years. Unique and custom paint vehicles as well as previous anniversary editions.

Our festivities closed with an award presentation recognizing attendees with the “longest distance traveled” and top three vehicles in each show class. A festive Saturday enjoyed by all!

We thank the Saleen community for your continued support. See you next year.

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[Source: SOEC Membership]

FMM: SALEEN’S 1988 R-MODEL RACER

MUSTANG BIO
Fox Afire – Saleen’s ’88 R-Model Racer

By: MARK LAMASKIN & KEVIN ADOLF on March 2014
Photos: KEVIN ADOLF
Original Article: FOX MUSTANG MAGAZINE

Collection of General Tire Saleen Mustangs
Collection of General Tire Saleen Mustangs

Race on Sunday; sell on Monday. It’s an old adage that’s been around for decades, and it has worked for car manufactures all over the world, including Saleen.

Most know that Steve Saleen began building custom street cars in the mid-’80s. What many don’t know is that by 1986 Steve was building and racing Saleen R-models. Saleen built 16 factory R-models, fewer even than Shelby’s 26 R-models. Because as few were built, it’s even rarer to see one in person, let alone four under one roof.

The most recognized Saleen race cars are nicknamed the “bumble-bee” cars from 1987 to 1989. Saleen built only eight of these R-models from brand-new cars, and they were destined to be race cars from day one.

1987 Race Team
1987 Race Team

Saleen campaigned these cars from 1986 to 1989 in an endurance race series, constantly testing them at 12- to 24-hour races with multiple drivers. The venue, the SCCA Escort Endurance Race Series, was sponsored by the Escort Radar Detector company. Escort and Saleen had other partnerships throughout the Fox-body ages, since an Escort radar detector was an option when purchasing a Saleen from the dealer. The Escort Endurance Series was intended to showcase the best that all the manufactures had to offer and was better known as Showroom Stock, meaning the cars had to be raced in the same trim as if you purchased the car off the showroom floor. Keeping the cars mostly stock was to deter “ringers” from being custom built by the manufacturers. All cars had to have a production VIN, and only minor modifications were allowed.

88-0020R Saleen Mustang
88-0020R Saleen Mustang

The only allowable engine modification was engine blue-printing and balancing for durability, while for the suspension, shock and spring changes were about it. As for interiors, all cars had to have a SCCA-approved roll cage, fire system, and race seats. Other than those few changes, the cars were stock inside. The passenger seat was a stock Saleen Flofit. The door panels were still stitched with the Saleen logo. The dash was stock. All of the interior panels were truly Showroom Stock. That’s about where “stock” ends with these cars, though.

As with any form of racing, Showroom Stock or not, if you want to be out in front you need to push the boundaries a bit. Saleen went one step further by hiring Dave Dixon, a former F1 engine builder, to head up their engine program. A factory-stock Mustang 5.0 would put down about 200 rwhp on a chassis dyno, but a Dixon-built motor put down 265 rwhp, giving the Saleen team a distinct advantage over its competitors.

Dixon had the task of finding a little more horsepower out of the completely stock power plant while keeping the overall appearance as stock so the SCCA officials would be none the wiser. One way he found extra power was to use a set of preproduction GT-40 cylinder heads with a stock E7 casting equipped with a set of factory-appearing, stamped rocker arms with a larger ratio. During a visual inspection, they looked completely stock. Another trick was a then-new process called Extrude Hone, running an abrasive material through the intake runners under pressure to open them up without creating visible porting marks as with grinding. This increased the flow to match the GT-40-style cylinder heads.

88-0020R Saleen Mustang
88-0020R Saleen Mustang

To help hide the unapproved modifications that Dixon had done to the cylinder heads, he had them shot-peened to look like factory castings. Inside the engine, one last mod was a custom camshaft that Dixon spec’d with stock life values, but with custom overlap and duration which was optimized for the high rpm seen during road racing. Another trick Dixon found was a Lincoln LSC speed-density intake tube, which flows more air than the stock Mustang piece. As well, he took the stock Ford headers and slightly ported them to increase exhaust flow. Behind the headers, all R-models used a Ford Motorsport off-road pipe and 2 ¼-inch DynoMax mufflers.

Another thing you may notice is that ALL of the ’87-’89 Saleen R-models are Speed Density and not Mass-Air. Dixon found that the stock Speed Density computers worked better with these modifications but needed to be upgraded to 24-pound injectors to compensate for the increased airflow. Dixon would actually have Saleen try dozens of ECUs to find the best one for each motor since they had to be factory sealed and never tampered with. This may sound like a lot of work to go Showroom Stock racing, but… well, welcome to racing.

Collection of General Tire Saleen Mustangs
Collection of General Tire Saleen Mustangs

The cars ran stock T-5 transmissions, but they too were blueprinted to ensure reliability under 24-hour abuse. Ratios remained stock, but Saleen would use 3.55:1 and 3.08:1 rear gear ratios, depending on the track. The rear differentials were prototype parts from Auburn. The “Pro” differentials they currently sell was prototyped on the Saleen race cars. This a cone-type differential that gave the Saleen Rs a better launch off the corners.

These completed engine packages also included hidden stamps on all of the parts. Each engine was issued a specific number, so when they were rebuilt none of the parts got mixed up.

The tricks of the bumble-bee cars did not end with just the drivetrain. Saleen also massaged the body to accommodate 8-inch-wide wheels in the front with one inch of added track width. This additional front track kept the cars square with the additional inch of rear track from the Saleen rear disc brakes with 8-inch rear wheels. The ’86-’88 cars ran the stock Saleen brakes on all four corners, but the ’89 cars ran a set of upgraded JFZ front brakes because Ford offered them in the Motorsports catalog. Saleen’s tire sponsor was General Tire, and they provided the team with G-compound race rubber that was much wider than the tire size branded on the side of the tires – another advantage Saleen.

Suspension was also not quite stock. Saleen installed harder bushings in a few of the control arms, and each car had specific springs to account for the driver’s weight and to optimize corner balance and cross weights. The ’88 cars had 750-pound fronts and 300-pound rears, depending on the track, but the later ’89 cars ran 1,000-pount front. With all of these modifications the cars were still close to factory weight due to the addition of the roll cages, but they started lighter than stock due to the lack of A/C and other power options.

The racing history for each car is unique because there could be as many as five drivers at any one race. The list of drivers for these Saleen R-models reads as a “who’s who” of late-80s’ big name drivers, including Tommy and Bobby Archer, Calvin Fish, Rick Titus, Pete Halsmer, George Follmer, Desire Wilson, Lisa Caceras, and of course, Steve Saleen. The tracks they raced are also renowned: Road Atlanta, Mosport, Mid-Ohio, Sebring, Sears Point, Portand, Road America, and Brainerd.

ABOUT OUR FEATURE CAR
Today, its racing days are over, this rare racer resides at Performance Autosport in Richmond, Virginia, part of a set of four General Tire bumble-bee Saleen R-models. Owner Mark LaMaskin and a Performance Autosport customer have carefully preserved this part of Fox Mustang history. But even as pedigreed R-model racers with obvious collectability, these cars still get exercised at the track now and then – keeps ’em happy.
88-0020R Saleen Mustang
88-0020R Saleen Mustang

SPECIFICATIONS:
PRODUCTION
Saleen R-Model 1987-89 8
DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase (inches) 100.5
Overall length (inches) 179.6
Overall width (inches) 69.1
Height, hardtop and hatchback (inches) 52.1
Front track (inches) 57.1
Rear track (inches) 57.0
Curb weight (pounds) 2,890
Base price $21,500 (est) – Street Model
Current est. value depending on race history $60,000-$90,000
ENGINE
Type V-8
Bore and stroke (inches) 302
Displacement (CID/liters) 5.0
Compression ratio 9.2:1
Horsepower, factory rating 225 @ 4200 rpm
Torque, factory rating 300 @ 3200 rpm
Horsepower, actual rwhp on chassis dyno 253 @ 5000 rpm
Torque, actual rw torque on chassis dyno 308 @ 3600 rpm
Induction EFI
Camshaft single, in block
Valve size, intake/exhaust (inches) 1.78/1.46
Exhaust dual pipes/mufflers, off-road H-pipe
SUSPENSION
Front suspension modified MacPherson hydraulic shock struts with coil springs and stabilizer bar
Rear suspension four-bar link and coil spring system, w/anti-sway bar
Steering power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Brakes, front power-assisted 11-inch rotors – single piston calipers
Brakes, rear SVO rear disc – single piston
Tires General XP2000Z – 245/50/16
DRIVETRAIN
Transmission, manual (standard) T-5 five-speed
Axle Ratio 3.55:1
PERFORMANCE
Quarter-mile (seconds) 13.9
0-60 (seconds) 5.8

[Source: Fox Mustang Magazine]