What Is a Saleen Mustang?

What Is a Saleen Mustang?

Last Updated June 8, 2020 | Alison Smith
Contents

Saleen Mustangs are special-edition Ford Mustangs produced by Saleen Automotive, Inc. Saleen is an American auto manufacturer that makes limited-edition, high-performance specialty vehicles. They offer heavily modified versions of mass-produced cars, such as the Mustang.

The Saleen Mustang debuted in 1984 as the company’s first high-performance streetcar. Besides Mustangs, Saleen has built vehicles from several models including a Ford Explorer, Focus, F-150, Dodge Challenger, Chevy Camaro, and Tesla Model S.

Who Is Steve Saleen?

Steve Saleen is a former Formula Atlantic race car driver and founder of Saleen Automotive. He founded the company in 1983, which was originally named Saleen Autosport.

Born in 1949 and raised in Southern California, Steve grew up around cars. He bought his first Mustang in 1969, a Shelby GT350 from the Hollywood School of Self Defense.

Along with a new paint job, he swapped out the wheels, suspension, and added a side exhaust and roll cage. Under the hood were two 4-barrel Weber carburetors.

Although he crashed that Mustang in 1971, he bought another Shelby GT350 a year later. For the inaugural drive, he had the Mustang towed out to the spot in California where he wrecked his first Shelby.

Steve won his first race in 1973 at the Riverside International Raceway with his second Shelby GT350 Mustang. After his win, he moved to the Formula Atlantic series. His speed and performance on the track gave him the nickname “Gas-Saleen.”

Steve was inducted into the Mustang Hall of Fame with Carroll Shelby in 1996.

Is Saleen Owned by Ford?

Saleen is not owned by Ford Motor Company. In fact, Saleen became a publicly-traded company in 2013 as a result of a reverse merger. According to the SEC, Steve Saleen exchanged his 59,719,500 shares, or 56.9% ownership interest, for a 24.6% stake in the new company.

Saleen produces special edition vehicles for Ford along with several other manufacturers. They’ve also been a Tier 1 supplier to Ford in the past. In 2002, the Ford Motor Company awarded Saleen with two contracts to engineer, develop, and assemble the Ford GT40.

Saleen was responsible for all the shipping and paint production for the GT40. The Chief Program Engineer at Saleen handled the design and tested the powertrain, body, and chassis, along with the interior and electrical systems.

Are Saleen Mustangs Rare?

Yes, Saleen Mustangs are considered to be some of the rarer Mustang models available. The first year Saleen released a Mustang, only three models were produced. According to the Saleen Club of America, Saleen produced more than 8,000 modified Mustangs from 1983 to 2009.

On average, there were only a few hundred Saleen Mustangs produced each year. Some years have lower production numbers. In 1992, only 17 vehicles were produced. The highest number of models produced was in 2006 at approximately 1,640.

The limited-production models, like the Saleen SSC, SC, and SA10, are even rarer as very few were made.

How to Find the Serial Number on a Saleen Mustang

All Saleen Mustangs have a serial number located on the front left bumper. This number can also be found on the dash plaque on the center console or on the metal plate underneath the hood. Rumor has it that there’s also a serial number hidden in a secret location on every car. You can call Saleen directly if you are unsure of the authenticity of a model.

In 1985, Steve’s secretary miscounted the number of vehicles produced that year. They omitted vehicle number 6 erroneously, confusing it with number 9. Since then, no Saleen has been produced with the “06” serial number.

What Years Did Saleen Make Mustangs?

Saleen has continued to produce Mustangs since the first model was produced in 1984. Here’s a rough timeline of all the models that Saleen produced over the years, broken up by Mustang generations. We’ve highlighted the significant changes made over each period.

Fox Body Saleen Mustangs (1984 - 1993)

1984

Saleen’s first production run in 1984 included three hatchback GTs in white, copper glow, and black. Steve modified the brakes, suspension, and body while keeping the engine stock. The first Saleen Mustangs sported 215/60 tires and 15x7 inch wheels.

Modifications included big decklid spoilers, side skirts, custom front air dams, and covered headlights. It also came with a radar detector. The cost was just over $4,500 more than the stock Mustang GT.

1985

The 1985 Saleen Mustang had several upgrades including new suspension, tires, and wheels, as well as an improved interior and aerodynamics. The tires were bigger in comparison to the 1984 Saleen Mustang, now coming in at 255/60.

1986

In 1986, Saleen added Koni adjustable rear shocks, new 16-inch wheels, and an updated front air dam and decklid spoiler. They also featured GT bucket seats, a left foot dead pedal, a Hurst shifter, and a Kenwood stereo. Race-prepared versions were entered in the 1986 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) ESCORT Endurance Championship.

1987

Four-wheel disc brakes were added to the 1987 Saleen Mustang model, which was a first for any Mustang. Converted from the redesigned Mustang base level LXs, the 1987 edition saw increases in horsepower and torque. Other performance updates included a heavy-duty master cylinder, five-lug SVO rotors, and 8-inch wide tires in the back.

Fox Body Saleen Mustang

The rear decklid spoiler and front valance were updated, too. Saleens were being converted from Mustang convertibles and hatchbacks. It was also the first time that Saleen produced a coupe Mustang, supposedly for the account manager of Ford at the time, Austin Craig.

1989

The Saleen SSC hatchback model was released in 1989 to celebrate Saleen’s five-year anniversary of Mustang production. This special-edition model was offered in addition to the standard lineup.

1990

In 1990, Saleen produced a follow-up model to the SCC called the Saleen SC. This was a higher-performing edition in comparison to Saleen’s other models released that year. Saleen Mustangs were still being produced from Mustang LX convertibles, hatchbacks, and coupes.

1992

As mentioned earlier, only 17 models were produced in 1992. This was the lowest production year for Saleen. New features included Recaro racing seats and 17-inch wheels.

The rims were eight inches in the front and nine in the back. An optional Vortech supercharger was offered for the Saleen SC for even more power.

1993

In 1993, Saleen celebrated its 10-year anniversary with the Saleen SA10. The SA10 sported a Vortech supercharger and a black and yellow paint job. The Saleen SC made a comeback as well. This time with a naturally-aspirated 5.0L engine.

SN95 Saleen Mustangs (1994 - 2004)

1994

In 1994, Saleen was using the new body style V6 and V8 Mustang GTs as a base for conversion. The Saleen S351 and Saleen SR were released for the new Mustang generation. For the Saleen S351, the V6 and V8 engines were replaced with a Saleen 351 cubic inch V8.

The Saleen SR was supercharged for racing and had 480 horsepower. Rather than being solely customer-ordered, some Ford dealers offered Saleen Mustangs for sale on their lot.

1996

For 1996 models, you could opt for Recaro racing seats, a carbon fiber hood, 3.55 axle, or 18-inch magnesium wheels. Convertible models also offered a Speedster package, which would add a two-point roll bar and a hard tonneau cover for the rear.

Blue SN95 Saleen Mustang Convertible

The Saleen S281 model is offered alongside the existing model lineup for 1996, both as a convertible and a coupe. Most S281 models were built from the 4.6L Mustang GT, but a higher output S281 Cobra was also available. A 5.8L V8 engine was offered for the Saleen S351.

1998

In 1998, Saleen celebrated its 15-year anniversary by releasing the Saleen SA15 as a special edition model. The signature look for these was yellow paint and black stripes with a white accent. Of course, no limited edition Mustang would be complete without a supercharger.

1999

The 1999 Saleen Mustang S281 and S351 debuted at Planet Hollywood, showcasing a lower price, a fresh new look, and higher performance. The supercharged version of the S281, the S281 SC, was released the same year.

2002

The S281 Extreme model was new for 2002 and was available as a coupe or convertible. It was equipped with the new Saleen Twin Screw Supercharger that was released the same year. In 2002, Saleen was also awarded two contracts by Ford Motor Company to build the Ford GT40.

2003

In 2003, Saleen celebrated its 20th anniversary with the Saleen SA20 Mustang. It was only offered as a convertible and was the first model to use the new lightbar and Saleen Tonneau cover. There were five different models available for 2003: S281, S281 SC, S281E, the S281 Cobra, and the SA20.

Front of a Silver S281 Saleen Mustang

S197 Saleen Mustangs (2005 - 2014)

2005

A new generation of Mustangs meant that the 2005 Saleen conversions were now being done on the new body style Mustang GTs. The models available were the S281, S281 SC, or the S281E. You could opt for a coupe or convertible, but the S281E was only available as a coupe.

Saleen debuted their new lineup at the OC Autoshow. The coupe models had an additional option for a Saleen Scenic Glass Roof, which was a design created by Saleen. Saleen also came out with a new H.I.D. headlight system for Mustangs.

2006

In 2006, Saleen released the limited edition Saleen PJ. Inspired by the 1970 Parnelli Jones Boss 302 Mustang, the PJ has a 3-Valve Saleen 302 naturally-aspirated engine. New optional features included Watts-Link style suspension and a “Shaker” hood and intake.

2007

Four engine options were available for 2007 Saleen Mustangs. There was a 4.6L V8 engine that produced 335 horsepower, found in the Saleen S281 and H281 models. The Saleen S281 SC had a 4.6L supercharged V8 engine that put out 465 horsepower.

A 4.6L V8 engine with 550 horsepower was available in the Saleen S302E. The Saleen PJ featured a bored and stroked 5.0L supercharged V8 engine that produced 400 horsepower.

Molly Pop Pink was added to the paint lineup in 2007, designed and inspired by Steve’s daughter, Molly Saleen. The S281 Mustang was also featured in a major movie role as “Barricade” in Transformers.

Steve announced that he was retiring from Saleen in 2007. A year later, he founded SMS Supercars. Both SMS and Saleen continued to produce modified Mustangs.

Silver Saleen S197 Mustang

2008

Saleen released a concept Mustang, the SMS 25A, to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2008. Notable features include carbon fiber side splitters, Lightblade LED taillights, a full leather dash, cross-drilled rotors, and a fully-functional Red Butterfly induction system.

The Saleen SA25 Sterling edition and Dan Gurney Signature Edition Saleen were other limited editions for 2008.

2011

The Saleen 302 Mustang was released in 2011 and offered by both Saleen and SMS. There were three different SMS S302 Mustang models. There was a 440 horsepower SMS S302 White Label that came with a 302 cubic inch four-valve V8 engine.

The SMS S302 Yellow Label had a supercharged 302 cubic inch V8 engine with over 440 horsepower. The SMS S302 Black Label was available with either the naturally-aspirated or supercharged engine.

Saleen offered the 2011 S302 Mustang with a 5.0L supercharged V8 engine. It had new brake and handling packages, Saleen graphics, and a front chin and rear wing splitter.

2012

Steve Saleen regained control of Saleen in 2012, with SMS Supercars now falling under the Saleen brand once again.

2013

In 2013, an updated Saleen S351 Mustang was released based on the Saleen S302 model. This S351 featured sleek Saleen-specific styling and produced 700 horsepower.

2014

Saleen’s 30th-anniversary Mustang, the Saleen SA30, came out in 2014. Only ten models were produced. It had a special Saleen “Pearl White” paint with matching wheels and a custom interior.

S550 Saleen Mustangs (2015 - Present)

2015

With the new Mustang redesign in 2015, Saleen debuted the S302 Black Label Mustang. Saleen-designed carbon fiber elements complemented the redesigned body. The S302 features an air management system, independent rear suspension, and other performance upgrades.

There was the S302 naturally-aspirated White Label, the supercharged Yellow Label, and the ultimate supercharged Black Label that produced an impressive 740 hp.

2017

In 2017, Saleen introduced a special S302 Mustang to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its SCCA racing win in 1987. Also known as Saleen General Tire Racing Mustangs, these limited edition models put out 760 hp and donned General Tire racing livery.

2019

The 2019 Saleen Mustang was offered with a naturally-aspirated White Label, supercharged Yellow Label, and ultimate supercharged Black Label. The SA35 model was also released in 2019 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Saleen. Only 10 models were produced. The SA35 has 780 horsepower.

Popular Saleen Mustang Models

Saleen has offered many different Mustangs since its beginning in 1984. Here are some of the most popular Saleen Mustangs produced over the last 35 years.

Fox Body Saleens

SN95 Saleens

S197 Saleens

S550 Saleens

Saleen SSC (1989)

Saleen unveiled the SSC Mustang in 1989. The SSC was designed to commemorate Saleen’s fifth anniversary and the Ford Mustang’s 25th anniversary. The SSC was a special limited edition Mustang with a production run of only 161 models. The SSC stood for “Saleen Super Car.”

The Saleen SSC was a hatchback that used the Mustang LX as a base model. The modified V8 engine included a heavy-duty cooling system and was capable of delivering 292 hp. This marked the first time that Saleen altered the powertrain to increase the horsepower output on one of its Mustang variants.

Other features included a larger throttle body, stainless steel tubular headers, Walker Dynomax mufflers, and a heavy-duty Borg-Warner five-speed manual transmission. They were also equipped with 16-inch white DP5 wheels.

All Saleen SSC models offered one color scheme: a white body with yellow and gray chevron stripes. The interior featured FloFit leather seats with matching door panels and a 200-mph speedometer. Only one SSC model offered a backseat — the remaining 160 models used the rear space to house a booming CD stereo system.

The Mustang SSC was a sweet, yet expensive ride that set car buyers back by about $36,500. A pretty high sum for 1989. And today, for that matter.

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Saleen SC (1990 - 1993)

As a follow-up to the Saleen SSC, Saleen released the Saleen SC in limited numbers in 1990, 1991, and 1993. Because of the small production run and high-performance features, the Saleen SC is extremely rare today. It continues to fetch high prices when surviving units go up for auction.

In 1990, Saleen produced a total of 13 models. The SC was lighter and more powerful than its predecessor, producing 304 horsepower. Refined handling and a more aerodynamic body were other notable features. Additional enhancements included new wheels and tires and a tuned suspension.

Yellow Saleen SC Mustang

The following year, the production of the SC dropped to just ten units. None were produced in 1992. In 1993, despite the addition of a Vortech supercharger, only five SCs found their way into the hands of eager drivers.

There were three hatchbacks and two convertible models. Unfortunately, the SC seems to be a classic case of the right car at the wrong time. Vehicle sales were dropping industry-wide, with the performance car segment being particularly hard hit.

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Saleen SA10 (1993)

In 1993, Saleen released the special-edition SA10 to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Only nine models were sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. As a result, the Saleen SA10 is one of the rarest of the many limited edition Saleen Mustangs that have been produced over the years.

Saleen had intended to build ten models. But, one of the original buyers who had put down the required $1,000 deposit backed out and was never replaced.

The Mustang Saleen SA10 was a truly custom automobile. Buyers could have them built to their exact specifications. While no two of the nine vehicles were exactly alike, they all featured a distinctive black-and-yellow paint scheme.

Each model used a 1993 Mustang 5.0 LX hatchback with a five-speed as its base. The SA10 was equipped with a supercharged Saleen engine and had an all-black interior.

The buyers could choose from a wide range of upgrades, such as Recaro leather racing seats, Acorn brakes, a three-piece stem wheel, and SC roll bars.

Buyers could also select from the extensive Saleen Performance Parts catalog that included offerings such as Edelbrock aluminum heads, roll cages, transmissions and more.

Remarkably, it is believed that eight of the original nine Mustang Saleen SA10 models are still in existence today. All are said to be in good condition. The other model was stolen from its original owner and was never recovered.

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Saleen S351 (1994 - 2014)

1994 S351 Mustang

There have been more than a few Saleen S351 Mustangs over the years. To understand what made the original 1994 edition so special, it helps to look at what was going on with Ford and their stable of pony cars at the time.

When the fourth-generation Mustang was released for the 1994 model year, it replaced the beloved Fox Body platform. The Fox Body had helped Ford regain its performance bona fides with serious racing enthusiasts over the previous 15 years. When the new Mustang was released, it’s safe to say that few were impressed with the top-of-the-line GT’s anemic 215 horsepower output.

Yellow Saleen S351 Mustang

Largely seen as a boost to the underperforming Mustang GT, the Saleen S351 added many upgrades. This helped better position the 1994 Mustang against the Chevy Z28 and Pontiac Firebird.

Ditching the GT’s weak engine, the Saleen team brought in the 5.8L V8 used in the 1994 Ford F-150 Lightning. They added several refinements including high performance, large-valve aluminum Edelbrock heads, hydraulic roller camshaft and lifters, and 30 lb/hour fuel injectors.

The net result was an estimated 371 horsepower and 422 foot-pounds of torque at 3,200 RPM. An optional Vortech supercharger boosted that number even further to 480 horses.

For the suspension, Saleen used progressive front and rear coil springs from its Racecraft part line, gas front struts, urethane bushings, and a front sway bar.

To complement these upgrades, a set of BF Goodrich Comp T/A ZR tires were mounted on custom 18-inch five-spoke rims. Other notable upgrades included a Tremec five-speed transmission, new front and rear fascia, side skirts, a redone interior, and a high flow exhaust system.

The car’s exterior design proved so popular, in fact, that Saleen was able to make a steady income selling it as a body kit to those who couldn’t afford the full suite of upgrades.

Saleen continued to offer an S351 throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s. A redesign in 1999 took the brand in a more affordable direction. This was due in part to Ford’s renewed commitment to producing a high-performance Mustang through its SVT division.

2013 S351 Mustang

Steve brought the Saleen S351 back in 2013, this time based on the Saleen S302 model. The new S351 got a redesigned exterior with an aerodynamic kit made from carbon fiber, front and side splitters, and a new rear diffuser.

Saleen installed a supercharger, intercooler, new fuel injectors, and calibrated the engine. Other additions include new valve springs, camshafts, aluminum piston and cylinder heads, performance air filters, and a stainless-steel exhaust.

These modifications made the standard Mustang V8 capable of producing 700 horsepower and 655 lb.-ft. of torque.

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Saleen SR (1994)

The Saleen SR Mustang was a derivative of the Saleen S351. Only 44 Saleen S351 models and two Saleen SR Mustangs were offered for sale in 1994.

The Saleen SR had a supercharged 5.8L Ford Windsor V8 engine. This was a significant upgrade from the modified GT engine used in previous Saleen Mustang variants. The powerful engine produced 480 horsepower.

According to some Saleen SR owners, this high-performance Mustang could go from 0 to 60 mph in only 5.9 seconds, while covering a quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds. Other key upgrades were a Tremec five-speed manual transmission and Racecraft suspension.

The Saleen SR Mustang wasn’t solely built for power. It also featured many style enhancements, such as a completely redesigned front fascia and five air scoops below the bumper.

The Ford bumper cover was replaced by a new Saleen rear valance. Blackout tail lamp surrounds were fitted over the stock Mustang parts.

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Saleen Mystic (1995 - 1996)

The Mystic Saleen is known for its color-shifting paint job, designed to change colors in different angles or light. The name comes from the paint color, which was called “Mystic.” The first Mystic Saleen was the 1995 S351R Speedster.

This limited-edition racing model was built to be a show car for promoting the launch of the 1996 Mystic Cobras. Built on the GT convertible platform, the Saleen Mystic was the only Mustang convertible to bear the Mystic paint scheme. It was given away during the “Horse of a Different Color” sweepstakes.

Before it could be delivered to the sweepstakes winner, many racing features were removed to make the vehicle street legal. The vehicle has changed hands several times over the years and has undergone a few modifications. One of these was the addition of a 408 stroker with a power output of 526 rear wheel horsepower.

The first and only Mystic Saleen made available to the public was a 1996 Saleen S281 Cobra. This model is considered to be extremely rare as it is the only 1996 Mystic Cobra modified by Saleen.

1996 Mystic Cobra Mustang

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Saleen S281 Cobra (1996 - 2004)

The Saleen S281 Cobra was first offered for sale in 1996 and remained in production until the end of the SN95 era in 2004. Converted from the SVT Cobra, the S281 Cobra was equipped with a brawny 4.6L four-valve DOHC V8 engine that could produce 320 hp.

White S281 Cobra Saleen Mustang in lot at car show

Saleen enhanced Ford’s original design by adding a Racecraft suspension and a Saleen aerodynamic body kit. Only 11 models were produced in 1996, four coupes and seven convertibles. Available colors included Laser Red, Mystic, White, and Black.

Saleen produced around 128 of these limited-edition Mustangs from 1996 to 2004. Approximately 18 models were manufactured in the final year, including one Canadian convertible and one Canadian coupe. The 1996 Mustang Saleen S281 Cobra remains one of the most popular Mustang variants ever produced.

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Saleen S281 Cobra Extreme Rainbow (1997 - 2004)

Extreme Rainbow was a paint color offered on very few Saleen models. Similar to the Mystichrome shade, Extreme Rainbow contains tiny flakes of aluminum and chrome. The flakes reflect light, causing the vehicle to appear to change color.

Extreme Rainbow was first offered on the 1997 Saleen S281 Cobra Speedster. There was only one model created, so the rarity factor is up there with the Mystic Saleen. Saleen offered very few Extreme Rainbow Mustangs over the course of the SN95 generation.

It is expected that the Extreme Rainbow shade cost at least $11,000 extra due to the extensive paint process and the use of multiple coats.

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Saleen SA15 (1998)

The Saleen SA15 Mustang was released in 1998 to commemorate the company’s 15th anniversary. Each of the ten Saleen SA15 models came with a supercharged 4.6L V8 engine that produced 320 horsepower.

The engine was paired with a Tremec five-speed transmission and a 3:55 limited-slip differential. Racecraft suspension improved ride quality and performance.

Stock front and rear springs, front struts, sway bars, and bushings were all replaced in order to give the SA15 a more responsive ride. A performance exhaust, 18-inch five-spoke wheels, and an advanced air management system rounded out the package.

With so much going on under the hood, the SA15 needed an exterior to match. A black-and-yellow paint job was complemented by a vented composite hood, fiberglass tonneau cover, aggressive rear wing, and special pinstriping. The SA15’s interior was outfitted with new seats, door panels, gauges, pedals, and a unique console plaque.

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Saleen SA20 (2003)

Saleen debuted the SA20 Mustang in 2003 to celebrate their 20th anniversary. The SA20 release was limited to just ten vehicles and only available as a convertible.

Those willing to put down the money for this extremely limited edition didn’t just get a car. The buyers also received a free trip to Saleen’s 7th Annual Car Show and a chance to dine with Steve Saleen himself the night before the grand debut.

Here are some notable SA20 features:

  • A 375 horsepower, supercharged V8 engine. Taking the 2003 GT’s 4.6L V8 as its base, the SA20 added a 1.6 liter Saleen Series IV screw-type inter-cooled turbo and Powerflash calibration system.
  • A custom-painted pearl-white finish with painted five-spoke 18-inch rims and black-and-yellow graphics.
  • An extensive body kit including an all-new tonneau cover with an integrated light bar, lightweight custom hood, spoiler wing, and rear fascia with center exhaust.
  • A luxury interior with custom floor mats and door panels, leather sport seating, and a special plaque on the console commemorating Saleen’s first 20 years.

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Saleen S302E (2008 - 2009)

Fitted with a supercharged V8 engine that produces 620 horsepower, the Saleen S302E was built for performance. The “E” in S302E stands for “Extreme.”

Released in 2008, the S302 Extreme was a special-edition vehicle with very few models available. Starting at $79,990, the Saleen S302E Mustang had a rather hefty price tag but offered impressive performance.

You don’t get to 620 horsepower without a powerful engine. In the Saleen S302E’s case, that engine started with a standard-issue 4.6L V8, the same found on the 2008 GT. Similarities end there, however.

The S302E’s engine was completely bored out to increase displacement to 302 cubic inches. Modifications included a port-matched Saleen Series VI supercharger, a pair of CNC aluminum cylinder heads with performance camshafts, 39 lb/hour fuel injectors, a dual-stage water-to-air intercooler, and forged aluminum pistons.

Suspension components included Racecraft sport-tuned coil springs, sway bars, and HD bushings, as well as a Watts-style rear axle linkage. Brakes were upgraded to 15-inch discs with six-piston calipers.

On the exterior, the Saleen S302E could be fitted with a speedster convertible top or glass roof. Upgrades to the standard sheet metal included an aluminum hood with heat ventilation, front and rear fascia, a carbon fiber front splitter and body diffuser, and several other lightweight aerodynamic components.

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Saleen H281 (2007)

Saleen produced several S281 Mustang variations over the years, including the H281. Introduced in 2007, the Saleen H281 was designed as a throwback Mustang with retro styling reminiscent of the classic pony car. The “H” actually stands for “heritage.”

The H281 was equipped with a beefed-up 4.6L V8 engine that produced 335 horsepower. The horsepower gains were a result of a special Saleen engine tuning process known as Powerflash. Other features included leather seats along with exterior graphics and badging.

A Saleen H281 sighting is a relatively rare occurrence, as less than 100 of these vehicles were produced.

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SMS 25A Mustang (2008)

In 2008, Saleen unveiled the SMS 25A to mark the 25th anniversary of producing Mustang variants. Steve built this car for himself as a concept car. It was never intended to go to production.

The SMS 25A marked the first time Saleen designed and built a Mustang from the ground up, as opposed to enhancing Ford’s original design. The Mustang SMS 25A featured a 5.0L supercharged V8 engine capable of delivering 720 hp.

Other highlights included a Red Butterfly Induction System and a bank of LED taillights. A billet aluminum Watts Link system and CNC aluminum heads were other prominent features.

The exterior was painted a gleaming Chromosome silver and sported a two-piece aluminum hood scoop. Leather dominated the interior of the vehicle, as evidenced by the plush two-tone leather seats, leather dash, and leather door inserts.

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SA25 Sterling Edition S302E (2008)

While the SMS 25A was just a concept car, Saleen produced a special 302E Sterling Edition to honor the company’s 25th anniversary. Referred to as the SA25, there were only 25 special edition anniversary models produced. As the traditional 25th-anniversary gift is silver, Saleen took the S302E Mustang and gave it a silver paint job.

Inside the luxurious interior, you’d find black Alcantara leather with silver stitching. Mounted on the dash was the start button and a 16 oz solid sterling silver badge. The exterior featured hand-painted anniversary logos, custom 20-inch five-spoke wheels, and carbon fiber front and rear splitters.

Of course, all this power and performance didn’t come cheaply. At a retail price of just under $100,000, the Saleen SA25 Sterling Edition 302E was one of the most expensive Saleen Mustangs ever produced.

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Saleen Racecraft 420S (2008)

The Saleen Racecraft 420S was a 2008 offering by Saleen Automotive based on that year’s Mustang GT. As opposed to other Saleen models of the time, the 420S ditched a lot of the cosmetic flourishes and focused on finely tuning the vehicle’s performance.

Saleen wanted the 420S to be budget-friendly without sacrificing thrills on the track. In its most basic configuration, the Saleen Racecraft 420S could be had for less than $40,000.

The most significant upgrade to the Saleen Racecraft 420S was the addition of a twin-screw supercharger to the GT’s stock 4.6L V8. The supercharger’s unique design minimized intake piping while maximizing engine cooling thanks to a high-flow inlet tube and K&N air filter. Altogether these enhancements delivered a total of 420 horsepower, compared to the GT’s 300.

To get the most out of the newly improved engine, the 420S featured a custom suspension and steering rack. This helped deliver a smoother, more refined ride quality.

The build featured components from Saleen’s Racecraft line, including upgraded front and rear springs, struts, shocks, and an anti-roll bar up front. A set of 18-inch Parnelli Jones wheels were also added.

The Saleen Racecraft 420S is distinguished by its black-and-white color scheme and large “Racecraft” decals along the lower rocker panels. The inside of the car had a number of improvements, including silver Saleen tachometer and speedometer gauges, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and an embroidered Racecraft logo on the front headrests.

The Saleen Racecraft 420S Mustang’s focus on substance over style paid off on the track. The 420 horsepower engine propelled it from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds and 0 to 100 in 10.4. Critics also praised the vehicle’s smooth handling and improved steering response.

The Racecraft 420S was a definite hit for Saleen, as well as for anyone wanting a no-frills performance Mustang with a sticker price under $40,000.

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SMS 302 Mustang (2011)

As mentioned previously, Saleen broke from his old company in 2007 to create SMS Supercars. One of its first products was the SMS 302 Mustang, released in 2011.

The SMS 302 was based on the 2011 Mustang GT and modified to refine its appearance, handling, and performance at the track. The SMS 302 Mustang started at just $54,990.

Under the hood sat the GT's newly introduced 5.0L Coyote V8 engine. The SMS 302 produced over 440 horsepower, as opposed to the stock engine's 412 hp. Drivers also had the option of adding a supercharger, which boosted the horsepower to 535.

The supercharged versions were known as the SMS 302SC editions. Saleen's team claimed the SMS 302 could run the quarter-mile in 13.5 seconds, while the 302SC could finish in 12.1 seconds.

The SMS 302 featured an aggressive new body kit with a new front and rear fascia, a custom hood with heat extractors, a rear wing and diffuser, and side skirts. New springs, front struts, rear shocks and linkages, anti-roll bars, and upgraded brakes with high-performance pads and cross-drilled rotors were added to the suspension.

SMS eventually folded when Saleen returned to the company he founded. A version of the SMS 302, now called the S302, is currently available through Saleen Automotive.

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Saleen S302 Black Label (2015 - today)

In 2015, Saleen debuted an all-new S302 Black Label Mustang based on the new Mustang generation. Sporting a 5.0L Coyote V8 engine with a twin-screw supercharger, the S302 Black Label produced a powerful 600 lb.-ft. of torque and 730 horsepower on 91 octane gasoline.

Saleen boosted the power even more with upgraded fuel injectors, high-performance intercoolers, a cold-air intake, and a Saleen-tuned exhaust system with carbon fiber tips. The engine was paired with a standard six-speed short-throw transmission.

The S302 Black Label featured the S4 suspension package, which included stiffer front and rear shocks, high-rate front and rear springs, updated front and rear sway bars, as well as stiffer sway-bar bushings.

A redesigned front fascia, front splitter, and a ram air hood distinguished the S302 Black Label from the standard S550 Mustang. Unique Saleen badging and decals were paired with a high downforce front splitter, rear spoiler, and rear diffuser. The Saleen S302 Black Label’s starting price began at around $73,000.

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Does Saleen Still Make Mustangs?

Saleen Automotive still makes Mustangs and is currently offering the 2020 Saleen S302 Mustang on their website. The newest S302 model will have a 5.0L PFDI V8 engine with a six-speed manual transmission.

As expected, there will be White, Yellow, and Black Label models. The White Label will remain the naturally-aspirated model, while the Yellow and Black Labels will be supercharged. All of the 2020 Saleen S302’s specifications are available on Saleen’s website.

Here’s what Steve says about the S302 Black Label: “Expanding upon our tradition of delivering truly unique performance models that offer something special for discerning performance enthusiasts, the 2020 Saleen S302 is our best looking and performing car yet.”

It doesn’t appear that Steve has plans to step away from the Mustang world anytime soon. Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on all the latest Mustang news and product offerings.

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Sources: Saleen, Saleen Club of America, Saleen Owners and Enthusiasts Club, Mustang Attitude | Image Credit: Creative Commons

What Is a Saleen Mustang?

Steve Saleen founded Saleen Automotive in 1983, originally called Saleen Autosport. Saleen produces modified versions of mass-produced cars, the Mustang being the main contender. From SN95 Mustangs to the S550, Saleen has produced many variants over the past four decades. Some Saleen Mustangs are rarer than others, especially those with lower production numbers.