With all of their racing experience, odds are that you can depend on Saleen to build you a car that is highly capable and well balanced for track day and street use.
Saleen Automotive’s Mustangs: The S302 Yellow Label and the George Follmer Edition
by Ziva and Michael Allen
Saleen is a manufacturer of high-performance, limited edition vehicles and made its name modifying Mustangs. In fact, it is the last remaining small company bearing the status of original equipment manufacturer (OEM). As such, Saleen is subject to all of the regulations and testing requirements of any other car manufacturer in the U.S. Their cars come with a 3 year, 36,000 mile warranty on top of the Ford warranty.
You may be surprised to know of the extensive resume Steve Saleen and his namesake, Saleen Automotive, has had in racing. In 1984 when Saleen Autosport formed, it introduced the first Saleen Mustang featuring aerodynamics, suspension, tires, wheels, and interior modifications. It didn’t take long for Saleen Autosport to test the waters in competitive racing when, in 1986, it entered the SCCA ESCORT Endurance Championship with a race prepared version of the Saleen Mustang. Drivers Steve Saleen, Rick Titus and Lisa Caceras were joined by IMSA drivers Skeeter McKitterick and Tom Winters, along with F1 and Indy car driver, Desire’ Wilson. Although its first season in professional racing, the Saleen GT team nabbed the win at the 24 Hours of Mosport. In 1988, running a three-car Saleen team, Steve Saleen and his teammates finished first, second and third at the 24 Hours of Mosport and gave Ford its first one, two, three hat trick since LeMans in the late 1960s. And if that’s not impressive enough, in 1991 Saleen competed in the Trans-Am series and secured three top ten finishes. You youngins won’t have any idea what I’m talking about but we older folks might remember the 1990s sitcom Home Improvement with the incurable tool nut portrayed by Tim Allen. Well it turns out he was doing more than DIY house repairs. Turns out he was also quite the car nut. In 1995 Steve Saleen and Tim Allen formed the Saleen/Allen "RRR" Speedlab. Taking the 1995 win at Sears Point in the SCCA World Challenge series set the team up for a manufacturer’s championship the following year. And all this led to Steve Saleen being inducted into the Mustang Hall of Fame along with Caroll Shelby in 1996.
Steve Saleen and the Saleen/Allen "RRR" Speedlab competed at the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans, marking the Mustang's first return in over 30 years. That same year Saleen also clinched the SCCA Manufacturers Championship title for the third time. Fast forward to 2001 and that year marked the inaugural race season for the newly debuted Saleen S7. Saleen S7s campaigned in FIA GT, ALMS, Grand-Am, European Le Mans, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This car was impressive, setting 27 fastest laps, 29 pole positions, and had 19 wins across multiple series.
According to Saleen, their S7R is the winningest supercar-based racing vehicle ever and since they are able to boast the following achievements, I just might have to agree:
129 Fastest Laps
10 GT Championships
1 24 Hour of Le Mans Win
In 2002 Ford chose Saleen to be one of the key suppliers to bring the Ford GT40 prototype into production. Using their niche manufacturing techniques, Saleen performed the assembly and paint production for the 2004-2006 Ford GT.
Saleen Automotive lists the following engineering capabilities:
+Suspension & Chassis Design
+Style & Design Center
+Unigraphics CAD System
+Motec Data Acquisition Systems
+ETAS Calibration Tools
+PAM Crash, Crash Simulation Software
+ADAMS Suspension Simulation Software
+ANSYS CFD, Fluid Simulation Software
If you’re in the market for one of these cars, be aware that Saleen currently offers four Mustang variants, including the S302 White, Yellow and Black Label Editions and the George Follmer Edition. We spoke to Max Matthewson of Saleen Automotive. He told us that among the S 302 Mustangs, “the base model is the White Label, which starts at $39,095. As far as performance modifications, the White Label Package comes with an intake, exhaust, custom calibration, grille insert, high down force wing, S4 specific rate front and rear springs, and a strut tower brace. It also includes several interior modifications, upgraded wheels and tires, and an exterior trim package that includes decals, emblems, and a serial number.”
“The Yellow Label is literally a supercharged White Label. This model starts at $50,563.00 and comes with everything the White Label does, plus a Saleen twin-screw supercharger, intercooler, water pump, heat exchanger, and fuel injectors. This is geared towards the person who tracks his or her vehicle and needs the added power of a supercharger” says Mathewson.
According to Matthewson “the last model in the S302 lineup is the Black Label. This is for the individual who needs the best of the best of everything. It starts at $54,386.00 and comes with our complete aerodynamics package, a full front strut and rear shock upgrade, front and rear sway bars, and is individually signed by Steve Saleen. It also has many more options than the other two models offer. All of our vehicles come standard with a 3-year/36,000 mile limited warranty. This is on top of the standard warranties that Ford offers for the vehicle. Our warranty covers all Saleen content and labor performed on the vehicle.”
The Yellow Label may be Matthewson’s recommendation for a track car, but the real track monster is the Mustang George Follmer Edition. George Follmer was one of many U.S. drivers who entered motor sports during the 1960s. Introduced to his first race in the 1950s, he entered and won. Follmer began racing as an amateur in SCCA events through the early 1960s, and retired when he found out racing cost money; only to later emerge with a championship in the 1965 SCCA Road Racing series.
Follmer is the second half of the Parnelli Jones-George Follmer rack ‘em and stack ‘em Bud Moore Ford Mustang Team. Follmer began his Trans-Am career with Roger Penske’s Camaro’s in 1967, moved to Javelin’s in 1968, and finally the Boss 302 Mustangs in 1969. During the 1969 race season he won at Bridgehampton, held multiple pole positions and led many of the Trans-Am championship races.
George Follmer had success in multiple series including: 1966-73 Can-Am, 1969-1981 SCCA Trans-Am, 1967-71 & 74 USAC Champ Car, 1969-71 Indy Car, 1973 Formula One, 1974 NASCAR Winston Cup, 1974-75 IROC, 1986 24 Hours of Lemans, and currently still competes in vintage racing events. In 1987-88, he drove for Saleen as a factory driver, where he helped them bring home a championship in 1987. Follmer was inducted into the Motorsport hall of fame in 1999.
As part of the Saleen Heritage Collection, the Follmer Edition Mustang is “an instant collectible, with a production run limited to only 250 units. The MSRP is $74,995.00. With an impressive 495 naturally aspirated horsepower, the 302 cubic inch V8 has a completely reworked top-end, creating a hi-revving engine that always has power on standby” says Matthewson.
Also, courtesy of Saleen Automotive, says Matthewson, “Keeping with the racetrack heritage and authenticity, the Saleen Follmer Edition comes equipped with an adjustable, track-tuned coil-over suspension. Billet aluminum camber plates and a banded thrust bearing on top of the upper spring create a smooth driving experience, regardless of speed. A dual bearing configuration in the camber plate delivers two degrees of additional camber. Valving and spring rate deliver a vehicle that is competent on the track and comfortable cruising in your neighborhood. Complementing the coil-over suspension is a Saleen Watts Linkage managing weight and power transfer. Road contact is maintained through two suspension linkages connecting at a rear differential pivot point.”
Here is the full list of Follmer Edition features:
-High Revving 302 Engine [7,500RPM Redline]
-Fully Functional Saleen 'Shaker' Cold Air Intake
-495HP @ 7,300RPM
-420 lb-ft Torque @ 5,400RPM
Race Tuned ‘High RPM’ Intake Manifold
High Flow 90mm Throttle Body
Saleen Shaker Hood Intake System with Low Resistance Air Management
Dual Exhaust System
Hi-Rev 7,500 RPM Valve Springs
Performance Intake and Exhaust Cam Shafts
Premium Fuel Calibration
6-Speed MT-82 Manual Transmission
3.73:1 Final Gear Ratio
625 AMP Maintenance Free Battery
Racing Style Front Chin Spoiler
GF Serialized Front Bumper Number with Headlight Splitter Design
‘Shaker’ Hood Scoop
GF Edition Race Hood Pins
Special Edition Front Chrome Surround
Rear Window Sport Slats
Special Edition Quarter Window Covers
Aerodynamic Rear Deck Lid Spoiler and Rear Fender End Caps
Race-Inspired Billet GF Fuel Door
GF Livery Styled Rear Fascia
Decklid License Plate Holder
Tailight Chrome Halo’s
S4 Specific Rate Front and Rear Springs
S4 Front Coil-Over Struts
S4 Adjustable Rear Coil-Over Shocks
S4 Front and Rear Sway Bars with High Durometer Pivot Bushings
S4 Watts Link with Aluminum Differential Cover
High Performance Pirelli P-Zero Tires 275/35ZR19 (F) 285/40ZR19 (R)
“Minilite”-Inspired Aluminum Wheels with Saleen/Follmer Center Cap 19”x9” (F) 19”x10” (R)
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
14.0” Front ABS Slotted Brakes with 6-Piston Calipers
Powder Coated Calipers with Saleen Emblem
High Performance Brake Pads
Maybe the Follmer Edition is part of a limited run of 250 automobiles and is likely to be a collector car, but that is an awful lot of good track car stuff to just sit in a garage. You can always pick and choose your favorite items from the Saleen Speedlab parts catalog and piece together your own track monster. If you do go for that Yellow Label S302, you will be starting off with a 625 horsepower supercharged 5.0 liter V8 and a 3 year, 36,000 mile warranty. That’s a pretty impressive combination of stats. With all of their racing experience, odds are that you can depend on Saleen to build you a car that is highly capable and well balanced for track days.