Saleen manufacture was on a roll in the middle of the decade. Saleen company had just new Saleen S281 2010 Mustang based on the S917 platform. Saleen S281 has twin – rubo variation of the S7 was underway and ford had contracted the specialty manufacturer to assemble its GT supercar.
Business was good, and both of Saleen manufacture assembly plants in Irvine and Detroit were at full capacity. The top of the mountain came in early 2007 when Saleen introduced the Parnelli Jones Mustang, still one of our favorite Mustangs of al time.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from that point. Founder Steve Saleen announced his departure in the summer of 2007 and the investment firm with a controlling stake in the company declared that it was looking for a buyer in late 2008. Just a few months later, most of what was left of Saleen was sold to MJ Acquisitions, a Detroit-based company that owns various automotive manufacturing businesses.Saleen gave us the opportunity to drive one of its first production S281 Mustangs based on the the car’s new-for-2010 body style, and we think we have the answer.
Some of our initial questions about the new Saleen, now named Saleen Performance Vehicles, were answered at SEMA last year when we got our first look at the 2010 S281 prototype. The design was distinctively Saleen while still managing to take a new styling direction that worked well with the revised bodywork of the 2010 Mustang.
Saleen S281 interior as well, especially the two-tone leather seats with red trim. Maybe our expectations were low, but it was worlds better than we expected. Of course, it’s one thing to build a prototype and another to build a production car.The body panels have an OEM appearance, something we expect from a car that essentially doubles the price tag of a Mustang GT from the factory. Saleen designed each of the S281 body panels to work with the car’s existing mounting points, so items like the side skirts don’t need the dreaded double sided tape to keep them on.
Perhaps the one low point for the 2010 Saleen S281, if there is one, is the motor. If the engine bay looks familiar, that’s because it is. Saleen’s familiar supercharger system sits atop the 4.6-liter V8 and provides around six pounds of boost good for 485 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. So what can be so wrong with a supercharged V8 putting out nearly 500 horsepower? Well, nothing. It’s just that Ford has really made things tough on Mustang tuners with the new 5.0-liter V8. With the Mustang GT putting out 412 horsepower, it will be hard for tuners like Saleen to provide a significant performance boost. Plus, we can’t imagine buying a brand new Mustang that has the old 4.6-liter V8 now that the 5.0 is here.