Saleen’s activities in the automotive world over the years have only left enthusiasts with more questions than answers. With heightened output in mind, the American automotive company was founded as Saleen Autosport in 1983 producing custom high-performance sports cars and high-performance automotive parts. Also, due to massive demands, Saleen created an independent operation for its aftermarket products in 1990 called the Saleen Performance Parts.
In all, since it was launched, the Saleen company has had a rollercoaster of highs and a couple of lows. Nonetheless, the high moments have been quite glorious, birthing the production of notably great automobiles, and we sometimes see well-handled vintage examples hit the auction blocks. The brand isn’t widely famous due to its low production capacity, but from the quality of its products and its goals for the future, there’s only one conclusion; Saleen has come to stay.
10 Steve Saleen’s inspiration
Born on the 2nd of April 1949, Steve Saleen is a businessman and former racing driver credited with the formation of Saleen Automotive. The California man graduated from Whittier High School in Whittier, California in 1967 and subsequently got a degree in business from the University of Southern California.
Saleen’s interest in fast-moving automobiles was kindled when his dad bought a Porsche. Thereafter, he joined the Porsche Owners Club, progressing to become a pro racer.
9 First Saleen Cars
Steve Saleen’s foray into pro racing got a major boost in 1980 when he entered the Formula Atlantic series and finished third in the final standings. He then joined the SCCA Trans-Am Series in 1982 behind the wheels of a Ford Mustang – thereby triggering his passion for Ford.
In 1983, Saleen formed the Saleen Autosport for the production of modified racing Mustangs. The company’s first three production cars are a white hatchback, a copper glow hatchback, and a black hatchback.
8th flagship car
Saleen’s flagship car is the Saleen S7, a hand-built, high-performance sports car produced from 2000 to 2009. Saleen S7 is currently the only car built by Saleen that wasn’t based on any other car’s chassis or design. The car is powered by an in-house-built and extensively reworked 7.0 liters Ford Windsor V8 engine with an output of 550 horsepower at 6,400 rpm.
Output was boosted to 750 horsepower with the aid of twin-turbochargers in 2005. The body is fabricated entirely from carbon fiber.
7 Ford’s Partnership
As part of Saleen’s Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) services, the company was given the contract to partially assemble and paint the 2004 to 2006 Ford GT. Also, from the 2007 model year, Ford endorsed and offered Saleen’s 450 horsepower supercharger kit adopted in the F-150-based S331 as part of the performance options on the Harley-Davidson Edition F150s.
Also, a limited edition F150 running on the Saleen S331SC powertrain was unveiled at the 2007 New York International Auto Show.
In 1995 while building the SR model, Saleen partnered with BASF to produce custom paint color formulations for Saleen cars. This resulted in the formulation of several unique colors that includes the Mystic which was later updated to a version called Rainbow.
Also, some of the unique colors were named after Steve Saleen’s family; Liztick Red Metallic was named after Saleen’s wife while Mollypop Pink and Chrome Molly were both named after his daughter, Molly. The colors also include Speedlab Yellow, Tire Smoke White Pearl, and others.
5 Bumblebee and Barricade
Saleen products also made it to the big screen. In 2007, for the first installation of the fictional Transformer film series, several cars were cast to play unique roles. The movie features heroic Autobots and villainous Decepticons, with the most prominent character and movie hero known as Bumblebee and the villain known as Barricade both cast as Saleen cars.
The Bumblebee is a Yellow Camaro with black racing stripes while the Barricade is a black Saleen S281 police car.
4 Motorsport Legacy
Saleen entered racing the same year the company was launched with Steve Saleen racing a street version of the Saleen Mustang at the Sears Point Raceway, California, in 1984. Two years later, a race version of the Saleen Mustang was victoriously campaigned in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Endurance Series through the intense 24 hours of Mosport, Canada.
Furthermore, there were wins for Saleen cars in 1988 at the 24 Hours of Mosport while the S7R – racing version of the S7 – has also brought numerous racing glory to the team.
3 Saleen “Big Oly” Bronco
The 2021 Ford Bronco will be modified into an off-road racer and as depicted through renderings, it’ll have one of the most awesome Bronco aesthetics ever. Called the Saleen Bronco, the fabrication of the off-road truck is inspired by the legendary “Big Oly,” a first-generation Bronco raced in the then Mexican 1000 (now Baja 1000) by Parnelli Jones to victory both in 1971 and 1972.
Asides from the Big Oly-inspired winning livery, the truck also features several other awesome modifications and will be available very soon, according to Saleen.
2 Tesla GTX
Saleen has taken the scope of his expertise beyond just internal combustion engines alone with the introduction of his all-electric hot rod called the GTX. Launched about five years ago, the Saleen GTX is still available, and it’s currently being offered in two versions of GTX380 and GTX 691 – based on output.
The Saleen GTX sedan is built with Saleen interior, Saleen specific suspension, and brakes, improved aerodynamic design and functionality, as well as a unique driveline gearing that produces a custom electric, supercar sound.
1 S7 Successor?
Saleen ended the production of the famous S7 in 2009 and at the 2017 LA Auto Show, the company unveiled the Saleen S1 – the second car ever to be developed entirely by Saleen. It’ll be powered by a Saleen-built proprietary 2.2-liter turbocharged inline-four engine with an output of 450 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.
The car will use a 6-speed transmission, double wishbone suspension for both front and rear and will be available soon for $100,000.
NEXT: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Saleen S1 Supercar