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Saleen S351 Mustang being prepped

Fri, 07 Dec 2012

After a tumultuous and sometimes litigious couple of years (which included Steve Saleen the man suing Saleen the company for calling itself Saleen!), Saleen the man, the car and the company with the man again in the driver's seat are back, still in Southern California and still in the bustling Inland Empire burg of Corona to which they all ensconced a few years ago.

So what's new? First up is a Saleen 351 Mustang, which was announced at the LA auto show last week. While Saleen and various entities—authorized and not—have produced the 302 Mustang for many years, this is the first time in 13 years that a 351 will come out with one of those big SALEEN windshield header stickers on it. The Mustang maker promises 700 hp and 655 lb-ft of torque from the 351-cubic-inch V8, which sounds entirely doable when it's paired with the Saleen 296 supercharger system.

“Everything about this project has been mindful of the goal to create the most potent Mustang on the market”, said Al Wagner, vp of engineering. “I think we have certainly pushed the bar in the production Mustang segment with our 351 offering. Once the project came together I couldn't help but think; if the 302 Mustang is using a Coyote engine, the 351 is definitely the gray wolf of the class.”

The S351 will also use a Saleen clutch in the Mustang's six-speed manual, a 3.73:1 final drive, Saleen wheels, tires, 15-inch brakes and a Saleen S4 suspension. Look for S351 Mustangs in January.

The LA auto show was also the production debut of the Saleen Camaro, matching existing Saleen versions of the Dodge Challenger and Ford 302 Mustang.

But that was not all. While the whereabouts of the S5S supercar may or may not be at an undisclosed location in an ASC building in Michigan, and while Saleen may or not even own the concept car that wowed the New York auto show nearly five years ago, Steve Saleen says the supercar—with a Saleen badge on it—is still in the works.

“We'd still very much like to do it,” he said.

And we'd still very much like to drive it. We're willing to wait. The S7, though with a few or more rough edges to it, was pretty exciting to drive around a race track, after all.

But wait, there's more.

“We're working on an electric car,” Saleen said in Los Angeles, dropping the biggest news bomb of the environmentally friendly show.

An EV from the most horsepower-hungry name in all of the aftermarket?

“I'll tell you more about it later,” Saleen said.

Wait, you can't just toss that out and not follow up.

“Yes I can,” he said.

And that was it. Never a dull moment out there in Corona.

By Mark Vaughn