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  Saleen S7

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Country of origin:United States
Produced from:2000 - 2005
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 21, 2005
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Click here to download printer friendly versionOne of America's leading specialist manufacturers is Saleen, who have scored many sales and motoring in the last two decades. Founded by Steve Saleen in the early 1980s, the company is best known for their Ford Mustang derived products. Saleen is more than just a tuner company; they are accepted as a manufacturer and every car built receives a Saleen VIN (vehicle identification number). At the 2000 Monterey Historics a bold new move into a new market was made, with the unveiling of an all new mid-engined supercar, the S7.

Unlike previous Saleens, the S7 was developed by the manufacturer from the ground up. A steel spaceframe forms the lightweight, but strong basis of the car. Suspension is all-round by double wishbones and coil-overs. Compared to contemporary supercar releases this setup was not overly advanced, but Saleen proved that a good supercar not necessarily requires an expensive and complex carbon fibre construction. Composite materials were used for the body, designed much like a long tail Le Mans racer, hinting at Saleen's motorsport intentions for the S7.

Power comes from a Ford derived V8 engine, which is mounted longitudinally behind the driver's compartment. Displacing just under seven litres, the OHV unit is good for close to 600 bhp and a tarmac shredding amount of torque. A six speed manual gearbox transfers the power to the rear wheels. The complete car's relatively low weight and the engine's enormous torque gives the S7 the edge on most of its competitors in the sprints to 60 and 100 mph. All this performance does not come cheaply, with a sticker price of well over $400,000 US.

Three months after the road car's introduction, the S7R racer was introduced. With the racing plans for the S7 so clearly baked in the design of the road car, the modifications required to turn it into a full blown GT racer were minimal. Simply put Saleen fitted a rear wing and slick tires to create the S7R. To comply with the regulations, the engine is equipped with restrictors, but still produces a healthy 600 bhp. Saleen supplied customers in North America and Europe with the S7R, but never ran a works team as they had done in the past with Mustangs.

Saleen's bold move more than paid off, with both the road car and racing car doing much better than most expected. With close to forty victories and over fifty pole positions the S7R has brought Saleen racing successes all over the world. A victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans still eludes the S7R, but it does currently hold the lap record for its class. the It also worked exceptionally well as a marketing tool as it much increased the public's interest for the entire range of Saleen products.

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  Article Image gallery (7) Specifications User Comments (29)