Formed by Steve Saleen, a former race car driver, Saleen Autosport came into existence in the ’80s. They made their first production run in 1984 with only three cars and then began to play around with Mustangs, giving birth to the legendary Saleen Mustang. The Saleen S7 took many more years in the making, debuting in 2000 as the flagship model of Saleen.
Of course, nothing this great can be done alone. While it was always Steve Saleen’s brainchild considering the concept, engine, and the overall pace was his, other contractors were used. Hidden Creek Industries was tapped for the investment while the S7’s chassis, suspension, as well as its aerodynamics came from RML (Roy Mallock Ltd.). And finally, Phil Frank came up with the body and interiors.
Now, most of you are already aware of how astonishing the Saleen S7 was (and still is!), capable of a mind-blowing performance in both its street-legal and track-legal versions. But, here are 15 facts you may not have known about it.
15 The Saleen S7 Is All American
When it comes to supercars, the countries that usually come to mind are European. However, the Saleen S7 proved them all wrong by being a homegrown, handmade, all-American supercar with pretty impressive specs. And just so you know, the powerful engine is a derivative of the Ford Windsor’s small-block.
14 It’s A Rare Classic Today
The production run of the Saleen S7 started in 2000 and ended in 2009. In between came the Saleen S7 Twin Turbo, a more powerful version of the S7. Since then, Saleen has moved on but the world still remembers “America’s only supercar” with fond memories considering not many of these were ever built.
13 The Production Run Remained Low
You can’t expect too many cars from a hand-built enterprise that had a production run of only nine years. Motor1 lists a total of 1,500 Saleen S7s in the world, while Jalopnik contends this figure to be less than 100, including the race-spec cars. Since there does not seem to be an official confirmation of either, let’s stick with it being a rare car indeed.
12 There Was A Street-Illegal Version As Well
Call it track-legal or street-illegal, the S7-R version made from 2000 to 2007 was built to race. And in these seven years, only 14 of these super race cars were made, making them super rare indeed. They did win big at GT championships and broke records at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well.
11 It Was The Only 500hp+ Street Legal Car
500 horses are no pipsqueak. When the Saleen S7 went on the floor in the 2000s, it was the only 500+ horsepower car (550 horses in actuality) to get a street-legal tag that also jetted 500+ ft-lb torque. Of course, the track legal version, all 70 of them, were more in the 600 horsepower range for maximum velocity and thrills.
10 It May Have Topped Ferrari and McLaren
For the original 2000 model, Steve Saleen claimed top speeds of 220 mph and a 0-60 mph run of 3.3 seconds. This would have made the S7 faster than McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari supercars (20 years ago!). The S7 Twin Turbo went several steps ahead in 2005, with top speeds of 248 mph and a 0-60 mph run of 2.8 seconds. Scary almost.
9 The Saleen S7 Wasn’t Small
The S7 was a lightweight, and by that, we do mean that it was just about 2850 lbs in curb weight, thanks to a carbon-fiber body. That said, it was by no means a small car. A 188-inch length made it just about as long as an Audi A6 executive sedan. It owed this length to a massive rear end, which served not only for stability and aerodynamics but also to house a small trunk behind the huge V8.
8th Getting More Expensive By The Minute
When the Saleen S7 was launched, they offered it at $400,000, which isn’t exactly cheap. But for a hypercar, it isn’t very expensive either. Today, however, the S7 seems to be headed the direction of becoming a classic, with prices shooting up. In 2019, Sotheby’s sold a used 2005 S7 Twin Turbo for a cool $643,000.
7 It Wasn’t The Safest Car Around
Most hypercars have the problem of eschewing safety for the sake of lighter weight and better performance. This is why the Saleen S7 has no airbags, ABS (antilock braking system), or even VSC (vehicle stability control). On the other hand, traveling at 160 mph or higher, the S7 will create downforce equal to its own weight, theoretically allowing it to drive upside down.
6 It’s Plenty Plush
Not to say that the interiors of the Saleen S7 were Spartan because they were anything but. With the driver’s seat positioned more towards the center for better weight distribution and visibility, the car had plenty of leather and aluminum accents thrown around for maximum effect. It felt like a $400,000 car, inside out.
5 It Was A Rare Mid-Engined Car
You can count the number of mid-engine American cars on your fingers. They’re all that common. Even rarer are rear-mid-engined cars, which means a mid-engine car on a rear-wheel-drive layout. The Saleen S7 was one of them, and it was designed for ultimate road stability whilst going stupid fast.
4 Each Slit On Its Body Served A Function
The Saleen S7 wore its looks with style. The scissor doors that opened up and away from the body looked good enough, but it was the 60-odd slits carved into the body of the S7 that made it look a class apart. The slits weren’t all just for show, either; they were all part of aerodynamic functionality. The side slits cooled the breaks and the fake-looking vents on the roof and hood (where the storage area is) were connected to the engine in the back.
3 The 7 Stood For Displacement
The S stood for Saleen, which came from Steve Saleen, the company’s founder and ideator. The 7 wasn’t a lucky number here, but the displacement of the engine, which was 7 liters. The 550-horsepower overhead cooled V8 was a 7.0-liter or 427 cubic inches. The 750-horsepower Saleen S7 Twin Turbo used the same engine as well.
2 It Got Plenty Of Screen Time
No, thank you not The Fast & the Furious. A silver Saleen S7 is seen in the comedy classic Bruce Almighty, starring Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston, where it’s Bruce (Carrey) driving it in style. Of course, there’s a yellow S7 in Alvin and the Chipmunks as well, so we are not sure if that’s a compliment to the car, or not.
1 The Saleen S7 LeMans Continues The Legacy
The 2018-2019 Saleen S7 LeMans continued the legacy in a limited-edition avatar, just seven in number. This supercar was also used at an event in China, along with Saleen’s Chinese partner JSAT to introduce Saleen as a brand to the Chinese. The S7 LeMans was an all-American production and pre-booked even before it was made. Considering the 298mph top speed and 1,500 horses, this one isn’t for the faint-hearted. But then again, the S7 never was.
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