Tag Archives: Saleen

2005 SALEEN S7 TWIN TURBO UNVEILED AT LA AUTO SHOW

2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo: A Quick Look

December 6, 2004 — A standing-room only audience was in attendance at the 2005 Los Angeles Auto Show to witness the unveiling of the new S7 Twin Turbo.

Looking fast yet standing still, the LizStick-red S7 Twin Turbo sported a new 750 horspower V8 producing 700 lb-ft of torque. Numerous engineering changes were required to incorporate the addition of the twin-ball-bearing and water-cooled Saleen-Garrett turbochargers featuring whopping 44-mm wastegates and providing 5.5 psi of boost. Dual electric fuel pumps now feed the array of high-capacity, return-less, 52-lb/hr fuel injectors. A re-calibrated Saleen PowerFlash computer handles engine management.

Putting power to the ground is a new six-speed transaxle mated to larger Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires, 275/35R19s up front and 335/30R20s in the rear, adding nearly 1.5 inches to the footprint. Revised suspension geometry and new dual-stage coil springs help provide a softer ride during normal street driving. At speeds of around 100 mph, the second stiffer springs, affected by high-speed downforce, help provide improved handling characteristics when a softer ride is no longer desired.

To attain higher speeds and improve stability, revised front and rear diffusers provide a 40 percent reduction in areo drag and a 60 percent increase in down force. While high-speed performance testing has yet to be finalized, the estimated top speed is an impressive 240 mph.

The 2005 S7 Twin Turbo — America’s premiere supercar — has an MSRP of $555,000. Compared to its competition (which will have a hard time keeping-up) it’s a bargain.

The LA Auto Show is open to the public from January 7-16, 2005 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Also on display at the Saleen booth is the 2005 S281 Supercharged Mustang and the N20 Focus.

Mustang fans will also see the new Mustang convertible at the Ford booth. More information about the show is available at: http://www.laautoshow.com.

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SPECTACULAR NEW SALEEN S281 MUSTANG HITS THE STREETS

More horsepower, more torque, more performance. Better handling, better braking. Clean, aggressive styling. Designed by the wind. More fun . . . more everything. This is the best S281 ever!—Steve Saleen

This is our first all-new car in this market segment since we began manufacturing automobiles more than two decades ago. And by ‘new’ I mean the changes are much more than skin deep. We have an all-new all-aluminum 281-cubic-inch, 3-valve V8 matched to a slick-shifting 5-speed manual gearbox.

The suspension is totally new with an advanced MacPherson strut design up front and a three-link live rear axle with a Panhard rod at the rear. The improvements in handling have to be driven to be believed.

We’ve got bigger brakes at every wheel so there’s more ‘whoa’ along with the added ‘go.’

And a 20-inch wheel and tire package is standard on every S281.

The wheelbase has been stretched six inches and the wheels are pushed out closer to the corners of the car, especially up front. Not only has this allowed us to significantly improve the S281 Mustang’s ride characteristics, but also its overall handling and balance. And there’s a bunch less weight on the nose of the car for better weight distribution.

Without the great base platform Ford has provided in the form of the 2005 Mustang’s all-new architecture and the great cooperation we have received from Ford in the from of early design and engineering information, it would have been impossible for Saleen to have designed and certified the new S281 models in such a timely fashion.—Steve Saleen

Design

2005 S281 Supercharged
2005 S281 Supercharged

The first thing to capture any viewer’s attention is the S281’s dramatic styling—boldly new from stem to stern. Its signature long hood and short rear deck emphasize the Saleen muscle under the bonnet and its traditional rear-wheel drive. Note those Saleen alloy rims. They are big, wide and clothed in equally aggressive rubber that completely fills the prominent wheel wells. They shout “speed” and “style” with a capital S.

Up front are integrated turn signals along with available HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlights. Featuring unique Saleen-designed headlamp assemblies incorporating the industry’s first bi-functional Xenon/HID lamp, these lights use moveable light shield technology to achieve both high and low beam functions in a single reflector with only one HID light source. They provide 40 percent more light in both low and high beam functions than conventional lamps. A high-performance sports car deserves high-performance lighting.

You will also notice a family resemblance with the Saleen S7 in the shaping of features such as the lower front grille opening, the hood “vents,” the rocker panel side skirting, the rear spoiler and the rear diffuser. Designed by the wind. Beauty and function. Optimal aerodynamics and top-speed performance. Objectives the S281 achieves because of lessons previously learned in wind tunnel testing of the S7.

The S281 SC gets a hood, rear wing and quarter window treatment distinct from the S281 3-Valve.

While the S281 pays homage to other Saleens, including its predecessor, in certain of its design cues, the overall sophistication and refinement of the exterior surfaces pulls the S281 firmly into the 21st century.

“At Saleen we have our own design language,” explains Steve Saleen. “It’s evident in everything we do: S281, N2O Focus, S7. The new S281 is clean, distinctive and aggressive. It’s retro, yet contemporary. And it’s got great proportions.

“But I am equally proud of the subtlety, refinement and sophistication of the overall design,” Saleen continues. “Saleen has come a long way in a very short time. A few years ago none of this would have been possible. But by tackling projects such as the S7 and the Ford GT, our core capabilities have grown enormously.”

Engine & Transmission

2005 S281 Supercharged
2005 S281 Supercharged

Saleen has a couple of credos the company lives by. One of them is “Power in the Hands of a Few.” “Power” can mean a lot of things, but first and foremost at Saleen it speaks to what lurks under the hood.

A muscular V8 infuses every S281 Mustang with tire-smoking performance. The 2005 4.6-liter V8 has new three-valve heads—two intake valves and one exhaust valve. The additional intake valve measurably improves engine breathing on the intake side.

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 2-1/2-inch stainless steel exhaust system, running from the exhaust manifold outlet to the tip of the exhaust pipes.

Because of its all-aluminum design, the new engine weighs 75 pounds less than last year’s V8, which, along with the increased wheelbase, reduces weight on the nose from 57 percent down to a much more ideal 53 percent for a front-engine/rear-drive performance machine.

As with last year’s S281, three levels of performance will be available:

S281 3-Valve

The S281 3-Valve’s 4.6-liter V8 is also fitted with an underdrive pulley system, including a front damper, designed to SFI safety specifications, integrated with the crank pulley. This system reduces parasitic loses from the pulleys and water pump.

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.

As a result of these improvements, the S281 3-Valve V8 produces 325 bhp at 5,200 rpm and 340 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm, compared to 290 bhp at 5,100 rpm and 330 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 for last year’s normally aspirated V8.

Supercharged S281 SC

Saleen was been using supercharging since the mid 1980s and introduced a supercharged version of the S281 in 1999. Once word got around about its performance capabilities, the S281 SC quickly displaced its normally aspirated S281 counterpart as Top Gun on the Saleen sales charts. With what Saleen has in store for the S281 SC for 2005, it will have even more spectacular performance.

Let’s start with the “guts” of the operation, the supercharger. It’s an all-new innovative design, so new and so innovative that Saleen has several patents pending on the design.

Saleen engineers started with unconventional wisdom. That meant tossing all current supercharger design theory out the window. When they had finished with their out-of-the-box thinking, Saleen’s engine wizards had created a design unique in the annals of supercharging. A supercharger that “blows” all others away. A blower charming in its design simplicity and elegant in its compactness, light weight and high efficiency. It’s called the Saleen Series VI integrated TwinScrew supercharger with twostage water-to-air intercooling system.

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.

The blower assembly contains twin screws, which push 2300 cc of air per rotation versus 1600 cc for last year’s supercharger. As a result, the supercharger turns slower for equivalent boost, producing lower stress and lower air charge temperatures. The higher supercharger efficiency, along with the lower air charge temperatures, allows for an intercooler that is smaller, lighter and more compact and which has virtually zero pressure drop from inlet-to-outlet side.

Where does the “two-stage intercooling” description come from? A second cooler located in the airdam below the engine radiator assists the intercooler integrated into the supercharger assembly.

The shape of the “snorkel” opening for the intake air tube is designed for maximum flow. And to maintain a constant volume of air as the air flows toward the rear of the engine, the housing widens and flattens-out over the engine. 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.

The overall efficiency gains—in the engine, the supercharger and the intercooler—mean the new supercharged V8 produces more horsepower and torque at a less stressful 6-7 psi boost than last year’s supercharged engine at 7-8 psi.

The 281-SC V8 also benefits from a specific Saleen PowerFlash performance computer along with a Saleen free-flowing air filter.

The “suped-up” SC cranks out a neck-snapping 400 horsepower, 25 more than last year’s S281 SC, and an eye-popping 420 lb-ft of torque, 5 more lb-ft than in 2004. If that 400 bhp figure looks familiar, check out the stats on the new Corvette. Comparisons between the Chevrolet 2-seat sports car and the Saleen S281 SC 4-seat sports car will be both necessary and required during 2005.

S281 E

The “E” in the name stands for “Extreme.” This “take-no-prisoners” Saleen model, first introduced in 2002, is extreme in every regard. Because it is scheduled for a spring 2005 launch, some details are yet to be finalized. But this much you can count on: It will contain the latest in Saleen race-bred technology. At its heart will be a unique Saleen-manufactured 4.6-liter V8 built in-house. It will feature a forged steel Saleen crankshaft, Saleen forged steel connecting rods, Saleen forged aluminum pistons and Saleen ported heads with various valve train mods. It will be supercharged.

The power will be mind-boggling. The 2004 version of this engine produced 445 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. The new engine is currently under development so the final figures aren’t in. But if you took one of the numbers from the 2004 horsepower figure and added two zeros, you wouldn’t be too far off the mark. Enough said?

Transmission

The S281 3-Valve and S281 SC Mustang models are equipped with an improved version of the current 5-speed manual gearbox. The ratios are the same as last year but the gear change mechanism has been revised for smoother shifting. In addition, both models receive a lower (higher numerical) final-drive ratio—3.55:1 versus 3.27:1 last year—for more aggressive acceleration.

An electronically controlled 5-speed automatic transmission is available. It is matched to a 3.31:1 final-drive ratio.

The S281 E V8 will be coupled to a Saleen heavy-duty 6-speed manual transmission and a high-performance flywheel/clutch disc assembly. Power will be delivered to the rear wheels via a Saleen custom balanced driveshaft and a performance differential assembly featuring a Saleen MaxGrip, speed-sensitive, limitedslip differential.

Chassis & Suspension

2005 S281 Supercharged
2005 S281 Supercharged

All of our market research and owner feedback told us not to change the basic suspension design of the S281 Mustang. The so-called ‘experts’ will tell you that a double A-arm suspension up front out-performs a MacPherson strut. And that IRS [independent rear suspension] beats a solid axle every day of the week. But I’ve evaluated more than a few expensive German imports with strut front suspension and they always get high marks for handling from the media. And I’ve driven and raced a number of ill-handling cars that had independent rear suspensions. ‘Results’ don’t necessarily flow from design. They come from the proper execution of design. At Saleen, it’s never technology simply for the sake of technology. If it doesn’t pass the litmus test of higher performance and greater value, it’s not going to be found on a Saleen automobile.—Steve Saleen

Body Structure

Precise, fun-to-drive handling starts with a highly rigid platform and body structure. The foundation for the new S281 Mustang is a high-strength-steel body shell that’s completely new. It’s 31-percent stiffer in torsion, meaning a twisting force of 15,500 foot-pounds can deform the body by only one degree. The body is also 49-percent more resistant to bending forces.

These dramatic leaps in body stiffness not only contribute to the 2005 S281’s markedly improved dynamic characteristics but also have parallel benefits in accident protection.

Engineering a body with such high stiffness creates a passenger “safety cage” that helps protect the cabin from deformation and intrusion. The front structure is designed to absorb energy in a controlled manner and dissipate it before it can reach the passenger compartment. And the front rails have an octagonal shape to spread forces evenly at the firewall and progressively deform for increased protection in demanding, offset frontal crashes.

Front Suspension

Our customers demand an S281 Mustang with handling to match the car’s acceleration potential. And this is an area where Saleen’s racing expertise and racing experience played a major role in the S281’s chassis development. We developed special springs, shocks and anti-roll bars to control body roll and to provide crisp cornering. And we use bushings made from high durometer rubber to achieve the direct steering response for which Saleen sports cars are noted. During the S281’s development we tested the car on roads and tracks around the country to achieve what we believe is an optimum ride and handling balance.—Steve Saleen

Up front, the suspension departs so radically from its predecessor that it’s really a MacPherson strut in name only. For 2005 the coil spring is mounted on a perch about halfway up the strut, replacing a design with the coil spring mounted on the lower control arm. This new “coil over” design results in an optimal 1:1 relationship between movement of the wheel and movement of the spring. With the former design, a oneinch movement of the wheel resulted in only a half-inch movement of the spring, a much less effective 0.5:1 ratio.

Positioning the spring on the strut provides another subtle advantage: a reduction in spring friction, known as “stiction,” due to side loading on the control-arm mounted spring.

Similarly, the anti-roll (stabilizer) bar for 2005, which is tubular to reduce weight, also acts directly through the strut, not the lower control arm. This, too, results in an ideal 1:1 relationship between wheel and anti-roll bar movement compared to the 0.5:1 ratio for the previous design.

In addition, the 2005 S281 Mustang’s front bar acts though a ball-jointed member versus a link with four rubber bushings. This reduces compliance in the system, resulting in more immediate, more direct and more precise anti-roll bar actuation.

The lower control arm (LCA) design for 2005 is also innovative. It consists of two steel stampings welded together into the shape of an I-beam. The resulting arm has the weight of a cast aluminum part and stiffness equivalent to aluminum but at a considerable cost savings.

The LCA is designed so that the typical conflicts between a bushing having to control both ride and handling inputs are minimized. Tire side loads follow a direct path into the front bushing. This bushing needs to be hard for precise handling and it is. Meanwhile, the large rear bushing is a sophisticated hydraulic design that effectively damps out annoying road vibrations and noise that would otherwise detract from ride quality.

Rear Suspension

2005 S281 Supercharged
2005 S281 Supercharged

For 2005, the S281 Mustang’s solid axle rear suspension has new three-link architecture with a lightweight, tubular Panhard rod providing precise control of the rear axle. This technology stabilizes the rear axle as the wheels move, particularly during hard cornering.

Thanks to the Panhard rod, the 2005 rear suspension is four times stiffer laterally than the previous design. The added lateral stiffness provided by the Panhard rod, working in conjunction with an axle tube with increased wall thickness and a larger outside diameter, helps keep the tire flat on the road for greater cornering power and more precise handling.

For 2005 the coil springs are optimally located on the axle instead of on the lower control arms. This creates an ideal 1:1 ratio between movement of the axle and movement of the spring, resulting in better axle control.

The coil springs have a linear rate and are “assisted” during severe upward movements by a jounce bumper on the axle, which actually provides a variable rate to the springing under these conditions. The resulting reduction in third-order forces—in engineering terminology it’s referred to as “jerk”—minimizes rear axle “abruptness,” making for a much better ride.

Similar thinking went into the mounting of the standard rear anti-roll (stabilizer) bar. It acts directly on the rear axle, as opposed to the lower control arm in the previous design. Again, this creates an ideal 1:1 ratio between movement of the axle and the anti-roll bar for more precise roll control.

As in the front suspension, Saleen engineers designed performance springs and shocks, high-durometer bushings and an anti-roll bar to provide the S281 owner with the sporty ride and handling characteristics for which Saleens are world famous.

Shock Absorbers

The front and rear shocks are proprietary Saleen designs. During the course of shock development, Saleen engineers evaluated a number of European sports sedans and coupes, especially those of German persuasion, for ride quality over a variety of road surfaces.

“For much of this testing, we were followed around by an 18-wheeler development trailer, which included a shock testing machine, allowing us to ‘analyze and develop on the fly,’ said Saleen. “Our ability to test a spring, shock and bar package and make immediate changes, allowed us to subtract numerous hours, days and even weeks from a conventional suspension development program.”

“Along with a considerable improvement in handling, the 2005 S281s also offer better ride. It’s ‘athletic’—it wouldn’t be a Saleen if it didn’t provide a firm, sporty ride—but it’s supple. The numerous improvements to the car in body stiffness, longer wheelbase, and advanced suspension designs, only begin to tell the story. It’s a case of one plus one equaling three. You have to drive one of the new 2005 S281s to appreciate what our engineers have achieved,” Saleen continued.

Steering

The S281’s rack-and-pinion steering system is similar to its predecessor’s with one major difference: The steering rack is solidly mounted to the chassis versus rubber mounted. While the solid mounting contributes to the S281’s precise and direct steering feel, potentially, it also provides a path for noise, vibration and harshness to follow directly into the steering wheel. The good news is that the combination of a rigid body structure, precise suspension tuning, including those special lower-control arm bushings up front, plus hydraulic engine mounts, result in considerably less transmission of NVH than last year.

Brakes

The four-wheel disc brakes fitted to the S281 3-valve and S281 SC Mustang models have the biggest rotors and stiffest calipers ever fitted to an S281 as standard equipment. Twin-piston aluminum calipers clamp down on 12.4-inch ventilated front brake discs, an increase of more than 15 percent in rotor size compared to last year.

In the rear, the brake rotors are 11.8 inches in diameter, more than 12 percent larger than on the 2004 model. In addition, the 2005 rear rotors are vented.

To handle the S281 E’s considerable horsepower and torque, the Extreme is fitted with slotted, 1-piece, 14-inch front brake rotors. These same brakes, designed by Saleen, are optional on S281 3-Valve and S281 SC models. They are also the same size brakes fitted to the new Ford GT.

A four-channel anti-lock braking system and all-speed traction control provide additional assistance during emergency maneuvers. When traction control isn’t desired—like when a smokey burnout at the drag strip is in order—drivers can deactivate the system with a simple button on the instrument panel.

Wheels and Tires

2005 S281 Supercharged
2005 S281 Supercharged

Saleen-designed 20-inch alloy wheels are standard on all three S281 models. Up front, the wheels are 9-inches wide; the rears are 9 inches in width on S281 3-Valve and SC models. Ten-inch-wide rear wheels are standard on the E and optional on the other two S281 models.

All S281s are equipped with high-performance radials. Sizes are 275/35ZR20 all around on 3-Valve and SC models. Standard on the Extreme and optional on 3-Valves and SCs are ultra-high-performance Pirelli P-Zero Rossos, 275/35ZR20s up front with 275/40ZR20s fitted to the 10-inch wide rear wheels.

“There are no optional wheel diameters for 2005,” explained Steve Saleen. “We wanted to achieve specific ride and handling goals and create a specific look across our lineup of S281s, and one of the ways we achieved that goal was by not compromising on wheel diameter. Those 20-inch alloys completely fill the wheel wells. It’s a look that speaks to sportiness as well as style. It’s a look that certain European makes have perfected,” Saleen continued. “At the same time, we haven’t had to compromise on turning radius. With the new platform and the new front suspension we’re been able to achieve a significant reduction in turning diameter compared to last year’s S281. You’ll immediately notice the improvement when parking or when maneuvering in tight quarters.”

Interior

2005 S281 Supercharged
2005 S281 Supercharged

A performance-focused driving environment is as much a part of a Saleen automobile as its Saleen engine, Saleen suspension and its race-proven aerodynamics.

That 6-inch gain in wheelbase gave us the ability to really maximize the comfort and ergonomics of the new S281 Mustang. ‘No compromise’ is an apt description of the 2005 interior.–Steve Saleen

Six inches might not seem like a lot when compared to the S281’s overall length, but you won’t believe how much of a difference it makes until you slip behind the wheel of a new Saleen S281. Taller drivers will feel more at home with more head room and shoulder room. Rear passengers also enjoy more leg room and shoulder room in their sculpted bucket seats.

The S281 Mustang’s modern architecture creates a much more comfortable driving position. It starts with Saleen leather seats featuring stylish louvered head restraints and performance bolstering for greater support, whether cruising for long distances on the interstate or for high-g cornering. It continues with power seat controls relocated to a more intuitive position on the outboard side of the seat and featuring ample fore/aft and cushion height adjustments, along with individual front/rear cushion height adjustment, power lumbar and manual seat back rake.

Add a three-spoke steering wheel offering rake adjustment, Saleen high-grip, racing-inspired brake and throttle pedals ideally positioned for easy heel-and-toe downshifting and a Saleen, short-throw shift lever that truly falls “right to hand,” and you’ve got the makings of a world-class driving environment.

To not find a comfortable driving position in the 2005 S281 you’d have to be either Shaquille O’Neal or Mini Me!

Naturally, 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 S281 E 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, a Shaker 500 audio system with 500 watts of output, a six-disc CD player, MP3 capability and a MyColor custom instrument panel. The industry-first, color-configurable MyColor instrument panel offers the ultimate in personalization. S281 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.

Safety Systems

Every S281 incorporates some of the industry’s most comprehensive safety technology. The system is designed to provide increased protection in many types of frontal crashes by analyzing impact factors and determining proper air bag response in milliseconds.

It uses dual-stage driver and front-passenger air bags capable of deploying at full or partial power. In less severe frontal crashes, air bags inflate with less force—or not at all—helping reduce the risk of injury caused by inflation of the air bag.

But seat belts remain the best line of crash defense for vehicle occupants. S281s employ pretensioners to tighten front seat belts in the first milliseconds of a crash; energy management retractors gradually slacken the belt, if necessary, to reduce forces across the occupant’s chest during the impact.

In addition to dual-stage driver and front-passenger air bags, the S281 features a system to tailor deployment of the front-passenger air bag. If the passenger-seat sensor detects no weight or very little weight, like a newspaper or a jacket, the passenger air bag is automatically switched off.

If more weight is on the seat, like a small child, the air bag remains deactivated and an instrument panel light alerts the driver with the message “PASSENGER AIR BAG OFF.” Of course, the safest place for children remains the rear seat, properly restrained. If an adult is seated properly in the passenger seat, the air bag automatically is switched on, ready to inflate within milliseconds, if needed.

Among the dozens of standard safety and security features the S281 offers are:

  • SecuriLock™: Passive anti-theft systems like SecuriLock help protect against drive-away theft through the use of an electronically coded ignition key. The system is designed to help prevent the engine from being started unless a coded key programmed to the vehicle is used. A miniature transponder with an integrated circuit and antenna is imbedded in the ignition key. A wireless radio-frequency transmission transfers an electronic code between the transponder in the key and the vehicle. If the codes match, a signal passes through the wiring system to the electronic engine control, allowing the vehicle to start.
  • Battery Saver: Battery Saver helps prevent accidental battery drainage from the S281’s interior lights. The battery saver feature automatically turns off interior lights in a parked vehicle after a few minutes, such as when a door is left ajar. If interior lights are left on while the ignition is in the ‘Off ‘ position, a relay is deactivated in 10 to 40 minutes cutting power to the interior lights.

Technology & Manufacturing

Saleen is a totally different company today than it was even a few years ago. The company’s capabilities have accelerated with its work on the S7 and the Ford GT. Its expertise in crafts such as clay modeling and technologies such as CAD/CAM for design and tooling has taken the S281 to new levels of fit and finish.

For example, composite parts that were previously made from urethane, including the front and rear fascias, the side skirts and door cladding and the rear tail light panel are now injection molded TPO (Thermo-Plastic Olefin). TPO offers numerous advantages over urethane. Saleen components molded from TPO are lighter (by about 60 percent), more rigid, more durable and have a higher-quality finish than urethane parts. Using TPO instead of urethane also improves recycleability.

TPO parts come out of the mold “paint ready.” Hand prep work is eliminated. A primer coat isn’t needed and only a solvent wash is required before painting.

Another material change between the old and the new S281s is the rear wing fitted to the supercharged models. Previously the wings were fiberglass. The 2005 wings are blowmolded plastic, which offers the same advantages over fiberglass as TPO versus urethane. And it is also much more worker and environment “friendly.” As another example, for the S281, Saleen created a full-size clay model and then did the final refinements in CAD.

We have invested heavily in tooling and manufacturing expertise. We’re as capable in these areas as companies producing millions of vehicles a year. The tolerances we build to, the gaps between panels, the finish on our composite parts are all world class.

Our expanding technical capabilities are reflected in such areas as our Saleen-designed Series VI integrated TwinScrew supercharger. We’ve got several patents pending on its unique design. But they are also evident in the S281’s HID headlights, brakes, suspension and exhaust system.

We will begin manufacturing S281 3-Valves in November-December. Right after the first of the year we’ll start producing the SC. Next spring we’ll roll out the Extreme. Convertible versions of all three models will arrive sometime next summer. We’ll build cars both in Irvine, California and in our new Troy, Michigan facility, with the bulk of the cars coming out of Irvine.—Steve Saleen

Marketing

If you take into account overall performance and styling, as well as traditional Saleen attributes such as “limited production by design” and resale, the new Saleen S281 represents an even greater value than its predecessors.

At an MSRP only slightly higher than last year—$39,043—the new S281 3-Valve offers exponential improvements in acceleration, handling, comfort and ergonomics, considerably more standard features, along with levels of fit, finish and refinement light years better than the previous model.

Coinciding with the release of the first “all-new from the wheels up” Saleen S281 since 1984, the company has created a dealership initiative to handle the pent-up demand that has developed for the 2005 S281. The sales, marketing and training programs in place at current Saleen dealerships are being revised and expanded and the number of Saleen certified dealers nationwide is being substantially increased.

I sincerely believe that the S281’s refinement and sophistication will appeal to a broader range of discriminating buyers who might have looked at high-end European cars in the past.

When we tested the 281 SC in marketing clinics, one of the questions we asked was, ‘Based only on styling and performance, how much should this car cost?’ The answer that came back most frequently was, ‘$75,000.’ This is around $30,000 more than the actual price.

The positioning of the 281 SC at $46,134 places it squarely in Corvette territory. Consider the following. Both have 400 horsepower, but the Saleen is a little quicker. Both have excellent handling and brakes but the S281 SC is faster in a slalom and stops shorter. Both have similar price tags when comparably equipped.

In the past I would have had a weaker argument positioning the Saleen S281 SC against the Corvette in the areas of refinement, sophistication, comfort, fit and finish. But not any more. The ’Vette’s got two seats. We offer four. We both sell a fully certified car. If you want the same sort of exclusivity offered by the Corvette and European cars such as Porsche and BMW, you should be looking at a Saleen.

I encourage you to compare them. In fact, I dare you to compare them.—Steve Saleen

N2O FOCUS OFFERS INDUSTRY-LEADING “POWER ON DEMAND”

Performance, Style, Sophistication, Fun.
The Saleen N2O Focus Is All that Plus a Great Value

Introduced only last year, the Saleen N2O Focus has already proved it’s got the muscles to back up its chiseled looks in the highly competitive sports compact market place. Equipped with the handling, aerodynamics, power and styling for which every Saleen automobile is famous, the N2O Focus sports one other innovative feature: an engine that comes “nitrous ready.” This is no add-on aftermarket kit. Rather it’s a fully integrated system, designed and engineered by Saleen’s factory engineers. It’s installed right on the assembly line in the Saleen factory as the N2O focus is being built. You can’t purchase a similar system from any other car manufacturer.

2005 N20 Focus
2005 N20 Focus

“During development we evaluated both turbocharging and supercharging, but our real world research out on the ‘streets’ led us to the nitrous ready concept,” said Steve Saleen. “As we expected, the N2O Focus has been a hit with Gen Y buyers. They like being able to purchase it from a fully certified Saleen dealer,” Saleen continued. “They also appreciate the ability to finance the car. And that, unlike most other similar cars, it comes fully equipped so they don’t have to lay out several thousand dollars after taking delivery to add all the performance features we build into every N2O Focus at the factory.

“But while the N2O Focus has succeeded in attracting the 2Fast 2Furious crowd, we’ve also discovered the car has much broader appeal. Enthusiasts from age 16 to 96 are buying the N2O Focus. These are sophisticated performance buyers who tell us they might otherwise have chosen a Mini Cooper or an Acura RSX.

“A lot of our N2O Focus customers really like our industry-leading ‘power on demand’ concept,” Saleen added. “Flip a switch and you’ve got an extra 75 horsepower under your right foot. For those other times, you can enjoy the fun of tooling around and looking ‘bad’ in a high-performance sport coupe that’s also giving you more than 30 miles per gallon.”

Engine & Transmission

Under the hood of the N2O Focus for 2005 lurks a new 2.0-liter all-aluminum, doubleoverhead-cam, 4-valve-per-cylinder, 4-cylinder engine. It is equipped with a low-restriction air intake tube designed for “heavy breathing” and a free-flowing Saleen performance center exhaust system. You, your passengers and those pedestrians lucky enough to be in the vicinity when you motor on by will be serenaded by some of the loveliest intake and exhaust notes street side of a Cosworth 4-cylinder racing engine.

2005 N20 Focus
2005 N20 Focus

The engine is fitted with various nitrous compatible elements, including a 10-lb bottle mounted in the trunk, plumbing, wiring and a special Saleen PowerFlash performance computer—a sophisticated Saleen-designed engine management control system—that determines the precise fuel, air, and spark requirement for every running condition. The N2O Focus is perfectly content running on less expensive 87-octane fuel. But premium 91-octane fuel is recommended for maximum power with the nitrous.

“Nitrous ready” means that before the N2O owner will be able to smoke the front tires, he or she will have to fill the nitrous bottle, provide the main hose to the engine and hook up some wiring. This activity will require about an hour’s worth of time.

For short bursts, the “75 horsepower nitrous kit” will turn the 150-bhp 2.0-liter Focus into a 225-bhp screamer, capable of running the quarter mile in 14 sec at 96 mph and rocketing from 0-60 mph in 5.8 sec.

And we thought you might be interested in knowing that the 4-cylinder’s robust 150 lb-ft of torque leaps to a even more muscular 250 lb-ft when you “juice” the engine. Saleen’s engine wizards have calibrated the N2O’s engine so that the nitrous “comes on” around 3,000 rpm and shuts off at 200 rpm below maximum revs to prevent any harmful backfires that could occur when the driver lifts off the throttle between upshifts. Saleen engineers have thought of everything: a healthy dose of extra power along with measures to help ensure engine longevity.

The 4-cylinder is mated to a slick-shifting 5-speed manual with a performance 3.82:1 final-drive ratio. Just what the doctor ordered for aggressive launches and close-ratio shifts.

Chassis & Suspension

2005 N20 Focus
2005 N20 Focus

Every N2O Focus leaves the factory with a high-performance Saleen-engineered Racecraft suspension. It starts with special linear-rate front and rear coil springs and Saleen N2 front struts and rear shocks that are street and track tested to provide the athletic ride and handling characteristics for which every Saleen is famous. To control body roll, there’s a Saleen-engineered sway (anti-roll) bar at each end of the car with special urethane bushings designed to reduce compliance in the system, resulting in even more immediate and more precise anti-roll bar actuation. Under the hood you’ll find a Saleen strut tower brace bolted across the engine compartment to stiffen the chassis and provide more precise steering and handling. Finishing touches include a Saleen high-performance wheel alignment and a precision calibrated chassis.

Brakes

To assure a perfect balance between “going” and “slowing,” Saleen engineers place as much emphasis on the N2O’s braking system as they do on engine performance. For 2005 the vented front rotors are increased in diameter from 10.2 inches up to 10.9 inches for even greater stopping power. At the rear the Focus has 8.0-inch drums. An anti-lock braking system (ABS) and traction control are optional.

New for 2005 is an available Saleen-designed 12-inch brake system consisting of grooved and vented front rotors with Saleen black powder coated 4-piston calipers. These brakes dramatically reduce stopping distances. And the powder coating on the calipers is another subtle styling touch that adds to the N2O’s eye-catching looks.

Wheels & Tires

2005 N20 Focus
2005 N20 Focus

Saleen aluminum alloy 17 x 7-inch alloy wheels are found at all four corners of the Focus. Providing the impressive grip and stick are Pirelli P Zero high-performance radials, 215/40ZR17 up front and 215/45ZR17 at the rear.

For those requiring the ultimate in race-track-like grip for the street, Saleen offers special Pirelli Corsa extreme performance summer tires incorporating the latest in technology in construction and compound for maximum handling, acceleration and braking for the most extreme performance requirements. These are the same tires Ferrari specifies for the cars in the Ferrari racing series.

Design

Exterior Styling

2005 N20 Focus
2005 N20 Focus

Just as every Saleen automobile—S281, N2O Focus, S7—contains unique Saleen performance DNA, so does every Saleen exude a look of sophisticated performance that makes it immediately recognizable as a “Saleen.” At Saleen, aerodynamics and exterior design are inseparable, and for the Focus this includes a race-inspired aero package consisting of Saleen-designed front and rear fascias, side skirts, fender flares, a hood scoop and a Saleen bi-plane rear wing. Look closely and you’ll notice that for 2005 the front splitter has been lowered slightly for an even more aggressive appearance.

You’ll also find Saleen-designed side and windshield graphics, championship wreath decals and identification, including a fender badge and a serialized front bumper number. Any association you draw between the N2O Focus and the cars competing in the World Rally Championship is purely intentional.

For personalization purposes, Saleen offers the N2O buyer a choice of nine standard exterior colors and nine special BASF colors, including Saleen Extreme Rainbow, a rainbow of clearcoat colors that will set your Focus apart from any other on this planet.

Interior Design

The interior of the Saleen Focus combines business—performance driving—with function, elegance and comfort. The Saleen front sport seats are covered in leather and contoured to grip your body when accelerating, braking and cornering. The sporty head restraints are flush-fitting and include an embossed “Saleen” logo as an elegant finishing touch. A leather wrapped steering wheel is standard and it features tilt and telescopic adjustments.

2005 N20 Focus
2005 N20 Focus

There’s a fresh new look to the instrument panel with a Saleen speedometer, whitefaced gauges and painted accents that carry over to the door surrounds. To this Saleen adds performance driving pedals, including a gas pedal, which is new for 2005, along with a shortthrow shifter and a redesigned, easy-to-grip Saleen shift knob. Under your feet are custom floor mats and you are surrounded by custom trim accents and N2O Focus graphics and identification. Also standard are a Saleen key fob and an Eagle One detail kit.

Naturally, there’s a Saleen serialized console plaque along with a serialized engine bay plaque to uniquely identify each N2O Focus as an authentic Saleen-manufactured automobile that complies with all applicable Federal safety and emissions requirements. It also identifies the discriminating owner as belonging to an exclusive club, one whose members ascribe to the philosophy of “Power in the Hands of a Few,” not to mention (but we will) the bragging rights and the high resale value that accompany the purchase of any Saleen automotive product.

Every Saleen N2O Focus comes standard with an AM/FM, 6-disc, in-dash CD changer with 4-speakers and a digital clock. But if this doesn’t sound like enough in the sound department, you can move up to a Saleen PowerTech entertainment system featuring Alpine’s latest high-end offering for in-vehicle entertainment. It features an automated (touch feedback) flip screen, AM/FM/CD/DVD/MP3 capability and a Kevlar, coned, 10-inch subwoofer along with a 350-watt sub-woofer amplifier. The system is complimented by the addition of four 5 x 7-inch 2-way speakers powered by a “V-Power” amplifier. It comes complete with a trunk-mounted, Saleen integrated sub-woofer amplifier and under-glass neon lighting.

This Saleen PowerTech entertainment system can be combined with a rear-wingmounted camera similar to the one mounted at the rear of the S7. When “on,” the camera provides a wide-angle field of vision behind the Focus, supplementing the conventional rear view mirror when the Focus is in reverse gear.

Also available for 2005 is a Saleen performance data logger that records and displays performance data for acceleration, braking and lateral g-loads. It’s just the thing for wowing your passengers with the N2O’s g-whiz attitude.

Marketing

Carrying a Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $26,519, the Saleen N2O Focus combines classic Saleen performance, styling and sophistication with outstanding value.

TWENTY’LL GET YOU 281

By: MARK VAUGHN on November 8, 2004
Original Article: AUTOWEEK, VOL. 54, ISSUE 45

Saleen Enters His Third Car-making Decade

Who would have thought when Steve Saleen built three Mustangs in 1984 that it would lead to this? His company has built 9000 cars, from Mustangs, to Ford Focuses, S7 supercars and the mighty Ford GT. There are even Saleen Thunderbirds. While you weren’t looking, Saleen, the company, turned 20.

The latest family member is the S281, Saleen’s take on the new Ford Mustang. S281 production starts Nov. 1, with Saleen modifications similar to those done on earlier Mustangs. There are three models-the S281, S281 S/C and the beefy S281 E-and each gets an exterior designed by Steve Saleen.

Engine work starts with a 325-hp version of the Ford V8 in the base car, a 400-hp supercharged version in the S/C and a 500hp engine in the mighty E. Prices have not been set, but expect to pay about $38,000 for an S281, $43,000 for an S/C and $53,000 for an E.

Saleen has turned into quite the industry player. There are Saleen production facilities in Irvine, California; Troy, Michigan; and Montreal. Saleen’s Michigan facility assembles and paints the Ford GT; S281 s and Focus N20s are made in Montreal for the Canadian market; and Saleen Irvine produces the S281, N20 Focus and S7.

The car that earned Saleen a chance to work on the new Ford GT is his S7. An exotic, all-American sports car that’s the stuff of teen dreams, the S7 has for its short life been, if not cloaked in mystery, then occasionally dressed in it. One question about it: How many exist? Saleen says 53 of the S7 supercars have been built; we called all S7 dealers to verify sales, and the total came to 14. Saleen says those numbers don’t jibe because we have not accounted for 10 race cars, early private car sales that did not go through his dealer network, sales from dealers that no longer handle S7s, and European sales.

While we can’t verify the location of every S7, Saleen has clearly become a major factor in the world of specialty vehicles and shows no signs of retreating to that three-Mustang-a-year rate. Without direct involvement in racing to distract Saleen from building production cars, and with corporate dollars from Ford for the GT plant — and the likelihood of other limited-production supercars yet to be named — Saleen’s third decade looks promising indeed.

SALEEN MUSTANG GETS MORE POWER

By: KATHY JACKSON on November 8, 2004
Original Article: AUTOMOTIVE NEWS, VOL. 79, ISSUE 6120

Dateline: LOS ANGELES —

The 2005 Saleen Mustang will have more power and be sold at more Ford dealerships than the 2004 model. Production began last week.

Saleen Mustangs, built by Saleen Inc. of Irvine, Calif., are aftermarket Mustangs with higher horsepower and sportier looks than production versions.

Saleen Mustangs will come in three models: the base S281 and the supercharged S281 and S281 E.

At the California International Auto Show two weeks ago, Saleen President Steve Saleen said he wants 150 dealerships on board by next spring, up from 75 now. He also said the company is starting a training program to teach dealers how to sell performance vehicles.

All three models will be equipped with 4.6-liter V-8 engines.

The base model, which will be launched this month, makes 325 hp and 240 pounds-feet of torque, compared with 290 hp and 330 poundsfeet of torque for the 2004 model.

The supercharged S281 goes on sale in January. It makes 400 hp, up from 375 last year. Torque is 420 poundsfeet, compared with 415 last year.

The E model will arrive in the spring. It is expected to make more than 500 hp, compared with 445 for the current engine.

Prices will be about $39,000 for the base model, $45,000 for the supercharged model and $55,000 for the E.

2005 SALEEN MUSTANG DEBUT

Photos by: Jim Dvorak
Event: California International Auto Show, Anaheim Convention Center

New Saleen Mustang debuts during
2005 California International Auto Show, Anaheim, CA

2005 S281 Supercharged Saleen Mustang
2005 S281 Supercharged Saleen Mustang

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SALEEN S7R TOPS NEW MASERATIS, FERRARIS AND LAMBORGHINIS AT IMOLA

IMOLA, Italy – Friday, September 10, 2004

American Manufacturer Spoils Italian’s Debut on Their Home Turf

The big story of round eight of the FIA GT Championship at Imola this week was supposed to be the heralded debut of the Maserati MC 12 team. And while the new kids on the block looked very promising by finishing second and third, it was the more experienced team of Uwe Alzen and Michael Bartels that drove their Vitaphone Saleen S7R to victory, their third win of the season. The trio were the only cars to finish on the lead lap of the three-hour sprint race; all three were also running the same Pirelli P Zero racing slicks.

Saleen S7Rs dominated qualifying as well, placing five cars in the top ten; while the Maserati could muster only an eighth and twelfth, respectively.

Alzen and Bartels had qualified third best but drove their usual strong race to earn their third victory after having won earlier this season at Magny-Cours (France) and Brno (Czech Republic). Double stinting their tires allowed the Vitaphone Racing team to remain at the front virtually throughout the race, finishing with a 43-second advantage over the second-place Maserati.

“Thanks to the fact that we were able to double stint our tires, providing optimal grip and performance for as many as 65 laps, allowed us to stay ahead of the Maseratis, especially in the final laps,” explained Alzen. The inherent power of the 600-plus horsepower Saleen S7R was also evident, particularly in the last stint, as the Saleen pulled away from the Maseratis on fresh tires.

The Saleen S7R’s performance is really no surprise to the racing world. In the first two years after its debut at Sebring in 2001, Saleen S7Rs won 48 poles, set 50 fastest laps and topped the podium 37 times in 72 races, winning seven GT Championships! No other marque racing with independent (non-factory) teams can make that claim.

The Saleen S7, America’s supercar, debuted on August 19, 2001 at the Monterey Historic Races in Laguna Seca, California and has been recognized by numerous automotive magazines as the fastest production car in the world. The 2005 Saleen S7 will make its world premiere on November 2 at the SEMA Show 2004 in Las Vegas

SALEEN S7R TOPS NEW MASERATIS FOR 3RD WIN OF FIA SEASON

IMOLA, Italy – Sunday, September 5, 2004

Teams Dominate Imola Podium Running Pirelli Tires

The big story of round eight of the FIA GT Championship at Imola today was supposed to be the long-awaited debut of the Pirelli-shod Maserati MC 12s. And while the new kids on the block looked very promising by finishing second and third, it was the more experienced Pirelli-shod team of Uwe Alzen and Michael Bartels that drove their Vitaphone Saleen S7R to victory in Italy, their third win of the season and Pirelli’s fourth. The trio were the only cars to finish on the lead lap of the three-hour sprint race.

Saleen S7Rs dominated qualifying as well, placing five cars in the top ten; while the new Maserati MC 12s of Andrea Bertolini/Mika Salo and Johnny Herbert/Fabrizio de Simone could muster only an eighth and twelfth, respectively.

Alzen and Bartels had qualified third best but drove their usual strong race to earn their third victory after having won earlier this season at Magny-Cours (France) and Brno (Czech Republic). Double stinting their tires allowed the Vitaphone Racing team to remain at the front virtually throughout the race, finishing with a 43-second advantage for the second-place Maserati.

“Thanks to the fact that we were able to double stint our tires, providing optimal grip and performance for as many as 65 laps, allowed us to stay ahead of the Maseratis, especially in the final laps,” explained Alzen.

The Pirelli-shod Ferrari 360 of Christian Pescatori and Iradj Alexander also finished first in N-GT but the car was disqualified for an airbox infraction. The GPC Giesse Squadra Corse team is appealing the decision.

NOW’S THE TIME TO GO EAST FOR YOUNG CARMAKER

By: JOHN O’DELL on August 21, 2004
Original Article: LOS ANGELES TIMES

Saleen of Irvine opens a Michigan factory, where it will work on Ford’s GT sports car.

One after another in recent years, the big Detroit car companies have moved operations west.

General Motors Corp. launched an advanced design studio in North Hollywood, for example, and Ford Motor Co. relocated the North American headquarters of its Jaguar, Aston Martin, Volvo and Land Rover brands to Irvine.

This week, exotic-car builder Saleen Inc. of Irvine went the other way. It opened a state-of-the-art plant in a former door factory in Troy, Mich., where it will paint and assemble Ford’s new $140,000 two-seat performance car, the GT. The high-tech paint facility and assembly line set Saleen back an estimated $15 million.

The expansion eastward by Saleen, one of the few auto manufacturing businesses on the West Coast, signals a new phase in the life of the 20-year-old company, which is privately held.

With plants in two states, “we are structuring Saleen to become a significant resource to the auto industry for specialty and special-niche vehicles,” said Steve Saleen, 54, a former race driver who used his race winnings to start the business in 1984.

Although that would seem to hint at a desire to seek work from other major automakers, Saleen said plans “at this time” were limited to Ford.

Saleen’s opening the plant in Troy could be seen as merely a case of a supplier following its business.

“Ford needs cars like the GT to come from Detroit — that’s important for its image,” said Wes Brown, an analyst at Iceology, a Los Angeles-based automotive market research firm. “Saleen saw the value in investing in a factory there to continue gaining Ford business.”

For its part, the automaker gains by having Saleen take “that much-needed West Coast flair and freer thinking into Detroit and into Ford.”

But the move “has some interesting prospects beyond that,” Brown continued. “If the relationship does well through the GT contract, then I’d expect Ford to look for other opportunities for low-volume, high-profile vehicles that could be outsourced and built under contract,” he said. “And there’s no reason to expect that Saleen wouldn’t be the front-runner for that continued business.”

Indeed, Ford already is showing a possible successor to the limited-production GT, which is scheduled to be built through the 2007 model year. The next Ford exotic car is likely to be a modern version of the Shelby Cobra, insiders say.

(Saleen’s principal product is a line of extensively redesigned and rebuilt Mustangs based on the Ford platform and sold through Ford dealers; a high-performance Saleen Mustang can cost $35,000 to $65,000, versus $18,000 to $35,000 for Mustangs that roll directly out of Ford’s factories.)

It’s been a tough road to Troy for Saleen. After nearly running out of money last year, the company was recently revitalized by a cash infusion, believed to be in the neighborhood of $20 million, from Los Angeles-based private equity investor Hancock Park Associates. The investment firm is now Saleen’s majority owner.

The financing helps replace cash eaten up by development of the 203,000-square-foot Saleen Specialty Vehicles plant in Troy.

The company, criticized by creditors in the past for concentrating more on product planning than cash management, also has undergone a retuning of its management system as part of the recapitalization deal.

“They are very, very good at building cars but [were] not so good at managing their money,” said longtime Saleen dealer Jim Graham, president of Santa Margarita Ford in Rancho Santa Margarita. Graham, who was bitterly critical of Saleen a year ago, said the company had improved tremendously since the Hancock Park investors began taking an active role in management late last year.

Steve Saleen remains president and chief executive but has appointed a new chief operating officer, Richard Rinke, to handle daily operations at both plants.

Rinke, a veteran of the specialty auto building industry, has worked for the last two years setting up the Troy plant. He will be based there while Steve Saleen remains at the company’s 150,000-square-foot Irvine headquarters and concentrates on product development and marketing, said Kevin Listen, a Hancock Park partner and a member of Saleen’s restructured board of directors.

Saleen’s new chairman is Hancock Park’s managing partner, Michael Fourticq. He succeeds S.A. “Tony” Johnson. Johnson, chairman of publicly traded automotive parts and systems supplier Tower Automotive Inc., had been Saleen’s majority owner since 1993.

In the last year, Saleen Mustang sales have been slow. Many potential buyers decided instead to await the launch by Ford this year of the all-new 2005 Mustang, the first new platform for the sporty car since 1978. Production of the ’05 Saleen Mustang using the new platform is scheduled to begin in November in Irvine.

Saleen also has developed its own exotic car, the sleek, carbon-fiber-bodied S7, which sells for $430,000. The company also builds a $24,000 high-performance version of the Ford Focus compact car, called the Saleen N2O Focus.

Under its contract with Ford, Saleen’s Michigan plant not only will assemble and paint the GT — a car sought by enthusiasts and collectors including “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, who took delivery of his early production model last week — but also will build other prototypes and concept cars for Ford.

After the assembly of bodies and chassis at Troy, the GTs will be transferred to a Ford-owned plant in nearby Wixom, Mich., for installation of the high- performance Ford engine. That will enable the automaker to say final assembly was done by Ford and its union workers rather than by a nonunion contractor.

Ford President Nick Scheele has said the company expects to sell 1,500 GTs a year for the next three years. A new exotic car, possibly an updated version of the Shelby Cobra, is expected to replace the GT in 2008.

Meanwhile, Saleen’s S7, Mustang and Focus production will remain in Irvine, where the company has about 125 employees. Spokesman Jack Gerken said Saleen probably would employ about 250 people in Troy and boost Irvine employment to 150 by the end of the year. The company also has retail operations in Mexico, Canada and Europe.

The company won’t disclose financial information. Steve Saleen has acknowledged that the costs of building the Michigan factory combined with development costs of the 575- horsepower S7 to consume the company’s cash reserves.

“But,” he said, “that’s all behind me now.”