The History of the Mustang Saleen
The Mustang Saleen is one of the most coveted Mustangs of all time. Known for its race history and superior performance, car enthusiasts around the world still love the Saleen, and what it means to Mustangs' history.
The first Saleen premiered in 1984 as designed by Steve Saleen. Saleen designed the car based on his experiences on the race track. He worked to make the car more manageable on corners in road races. Only three Saleens where produced this year through they were numbered oddly (31, 51 and 52) to make it appear like they had made more.
In 1986 a version was created to withstand the incredible demands of the 24 hour of Mosport in the Sports Car Club of America's Escort Endurance Championship. In 1987 the car won three awards at the same race. In 1988 the Saleen team competed in the race again, taking a 1-2-3 finish.
The 1990's brought the expansion of the Saleen name with a Saleen Performance Parts division that operated independent of the race team. In 1991 the Sportruck team took home awards at the SSCA Race Truck Championship. In '93 the truck team moved on the world championships, finishing third and fifth. The mid- to late '90's brought new model after new model with innovations including the the 480-hp Saleen SR in 1994. 1995 brought the first speedster with an optional power boost. In 1997 the Saleen was the first Mustang in 30 years to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Production numbers in the '90's soared because of the increase in popularity and the availability of the legendary car. With its greatest year in 1996 with the S-281. The S-281 became more affordable during these years encouraging buyers to leave behind the previous poor man's Saleen for more horsepower and greater handling.
In 2000, the Saleen went on to win awards in all areas including the GTO championships. The S7 was unveiled the same year at Laguna Seca Raceway in California. In 2002 the world's most powerful production Mustang was introduced: the roaring 445hp S281 Extreme. In 2003, the Saleen celebrated its 20th anniversary and entered the world of Hollywood, with features in Bruce Almighty, 2 Fast 2 Furious and Hollywood Homicide. It's star would continue to shine in 2005 by being featured in 50 Cent's music video "Candy Shop". During these years Saleen continued to premiere innovations and improve production numbers.
In 2007, Steve Saleen retired, but not before helping design the 2008 Sterling Edition Saleen to celebrate 25 years. This limited-edition vehicle--only 25 cars were produced--offers many of Saleen's signature characteristics and technology, which Steve Saleen helped create along the way.
A variety of Saleen Mustang models came out throughout their history. Whether for racing or for pleasure, there was a Saleen for every taste. Here are the iconic models produced during the history of Saleen:
Saleen SR (1994)
S351 Speedster (1995)
Saleen Explorer XP8 Performance Utility Vehicle (1998)
Saleen S281 (1999) (Provided a lower cost, higher power, newly designed version)
Saleen S351 (1999) (Also a newly designed, lower cost version)
S7 Supercar (2000)
S281 Extreme (2002)
Saleen 20th Anniversary Edition (SA20 Edition) (2003)
N2O Saleen Focus (2004)
Saleen S7 Twin Turbo (2005)
S281 3-valve (2005)
SC 430hp (2005)
Extreme 550hp (2005)
Saleen S7 Twin Turbo 1000hp (2006)
S331 Sports Truck 450hp (2006)
Parnelli Jones Limited Edition Saleen Mustang (2006)
S302 Extreme 620hp (2007)
S331 SC Crew Cab (2007)
Saleen 25th Anniversary Sterling Edition (2008)
S5S Raptor (2008)
Saleen S302E Dark Horse Limited Edition (2008)
In 2009, they released the production of the 2010 435S Saleen Mustang. At this time they also partnered with Ford to make a variety of their vehicles across the model lines, including trucks, cars, sports cars and even movie vehicles.
Saleen has been a key element in the birth and growth of the sports car. Mustang would not be what it is without the Saleen model and the innovations it brought the race and consumer sports car worlds.
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