Steve Saleen started his automotive journey when he began working on his Shelby GT350 in 1969 before racing it. He built plenty of Mustangs and competed in motorsport events, and in the early 1980s, he was introduced to some Ford executives that led to the founding of Saleen Autosport and the official debut of the Saleen Autosport Mustang Fox body in 1985.
The story of Saleen’s relationship with Ford and the Mustangs they built is pretty fascinating in itself, but today our focus is on Saleen’s dream to make a machine that would outperform European supercars and American race cars; a vision that came to fruition.
By 2000, Saleen’s ability to build very high-performing street-legal cars was undoubtedly proven. So, with the beginning of the 21st century, the automotive industry witnessed the debut of the mid-engine Saleen S7.
This Rare American Supercar Is Pretty Damn Expensive
Currently, few Saleen S7s are on the market and even fewer 2000s naturally aspirated models. Yet, if you manage to find one, it is likely to have a price tag of around $450,000 to $600,000. Twin-turbocharged models can also be found up for auction, and they typically go for approximately $600,000 to $700,000. If the cars are equipped with the Competition package, they could have an additional $50,000 to $100,000 atop their value.
In 2017, following the S7’s undeniable success in the Le Mans Series, Saleen debuted the S7 LM. This highly upgraded and modified S7 featured a number of enhancements, and it put out a terrifying 1,300 hp. Today, these perfected versions of the S7 are worth roughly $1 million to $1.5 million.
At first glance, these numbers might look too extreme, but, considering the capabilities of this beast and the price tags on similar performing vehicles of that generation, it’s absolutely worth it. The S7 is truly one of the most underappreciated supercars in the automotive industry.
The Saleen S7 Offers Exceptional Performance
Considering its capabilities, The S7 is considered by some to be one of the most underrated supercars in history. Powered by a bored-and-stroked variant of Ford’s Windsor V8 with 7 liters of displacement and a rear mid-engine layout, this masterpiece goes from 0 to 60 mph in an estimated 3.2 seconds and from 0 to 100 in 7.1 seconds. It can also finish a quarter-mile dragstrip in 11.3 seconds.
The naturally aspirated S7, manufactured from 2000 to 2004, sent 550 hp to the rear wheels using a six-speed transmission. However, this well-built supercar was originally designed to have a twin-turbocharger setup, and the 2005 model finally received the twin-turbo treatment, which enabled the S7 to output a mighty 750 hp and 700 lb-ft of torque.
Saleen also offered high-performance aftermarket packages in 2006, which could increase the engine output to 850 hp and 1035 hp, depending on your choice. The competition package also included suspension upgrades, as well as carbon fiber aerodynamic body parts such as rear and front spoilers and diffusers.
The S7’s body was made entirely out of carbon fiber, and its chassis consisted of aluminum honeycomb composite and lightweight steel; and as a result, it weighed less than 3,000 lbs. Upon hitting 160 mph, the downforce offered by its aerodynamic design is greater than the car’s weight, meaning that theoretically, the S7 could be driven upside down!
The wonders of this American work of art are not limited to the features mentioned. From the interior and the design to every small mechanical and electronic detail utilized in this vehicle, resulted in the creation and evolution of one of the most capable and sought-after supercars in automotive history.
The Saleen S7 Also Earned Success In Motorsport
Along with the S7’s debut in 2000, Saleen also produced the S7-R, the racing version of the S7. It competed in several championships and secured plenty of titles. In fact, the S7-R won more than 40 events worldwide, most of them being in the FIA GT championship and the GT-1 class competition in the American Le Mans Series.
The S7 was made to be speeded up and to dominate the track, tasks that it met with success. It was designed to go up against Ferraris, McLaren F1s, and Corvettes. Ultimately, it outperformed almost anything it went up against in that era. Steve Saleen’s racing spirit is undoubtedly present in every car he ever manufactured.
Safety regulations in 2000 were not as strict as they are today; combine that with Saleen’s heavy focus on performance, and a lack of safety in the S7 became inevitable. For these reasons, the S7 has some pretty frightening speed and agility, but the danger involved in driving these rides is a pretty big downside.
However, dare we say, some perceive the lack of safety and the feeling of raw power as further reasons to love this ferocious beast of a car.