What Is a Saleen Mustang?

Not every Mustang you may see on the street or at the racetrack is solely the creation of the Ford Motor Company. Ford has enlisted the services of numerous third-party manufacturers over the years to provide modified — usually high-performance — Mustangs that are typically available on a limited-edition basis.

One of the more prominent manufacturers is Saleen Automotive. This Corona, CA-based company has been producing popular Mustang variants for three decades.

Saleen MustangA Vision of Steve Saleen

The company that eventually became Saleen Automotive began its existence as Saleen Autosport in 1983. Founded in Troy, MI by former Formula Atlantic racecar driver Steve Saleen, the company released its first Mustang variant the following year.

The original Saleen Mustangs generally maintained the stock Ford engines and focused on improving the handling of the vehicle. As the company grew, however, it began to place more emphasis on engine technology, resulting in the production of high-performance Saleen Mustangs that were as powerful as they were easy to handle.

To mark its 25th anniversary of Mustang production, the company unveiled a 720 hp concept car known as the SMS 25A. This was the first Mustang it designed and built from the ground up, as opposed to modifying a Ford design.

Notable Saleen Mustang Versions

Some of the more notable Saleen Mustang variants include the S281, a model that was based on the Mustang GT. First unveiled in 1996, the S281 served as the flagship vehicle of the Saleen Mustang line for many years.

In 2007, Saleen and racing legend Parnelli Jones joined forces to create a Mustang based on the original Boss 302 — a design Jones helped make famous in the 1970s. Current versions include the Saleen 302 that is modeled after the present-day Mustang GT, as well as the Saleen 351.

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