Professional racing driver Steve Saleen is a pioneer of ‘lifestyle performance autos’, that is: all-American celebrity supercars designed to appeal to the Hollywood social set. Saleen became well-known on the race circuit for his skill at tweaking Fort Mustangs, a talent he invested by setting up his own company as a manufacturer of limited edition, high-performance cars and parts in 1984. He has made Saleen versions of several existing production cars and has produced more than 8000 modified Mustangs for both road and track.
The S7 was the first Saleen to be designed from scratch rather than being built on the platform of another badge, the intention behind it being to ‘combine the performance of a track-only race car with the driving pleasure of a road car’. When it was unveiled in 2000, the S7 was the fastest production car in America and the only street-legal car with more than 500 bhp and more than 500 lb ft of torque.
In terms of style, the S7 is as glamorous as it gets: a rear-mid engine supercar with butterfly doors and an interior that oozes luxury as well as functionality. It was digitally designed and handbuilt from carbon fibre on a lightweight reinforced steel and aluminum space frame. Saleen boasted that it had the best aerodynamics of any car in the world: numerous vents and grilles control the airflow over, under and through it, and travelling at 160mph (257 km/h) it creates its own weight in downforce.
In 2005, the S7 was replaced by a virtually identical but more powerful version with an all-aluminum twin-turbo engine and top speed of 248 mph. The S7 Twin Turbo produces 750 bhp (123 bhp more than the McLaren F1) and advertised itself as the fastest production car in the world.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
2000 (until 2006)
7.0 l (427.6 cid) OHV V8
Top speed of 200 mph (322 km/h) or (Twin Turbo) 248 mph (399 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.9 secs or (Twin Turbo) 2.4 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Steve Saleen started to dissociate himself from Saleen Inc. in 2007, finally leaving in 2008 and taking the rights to the S7 with him. He is now trading under the name SMS. Soon after he left, Saleen Inc. was dissolved, leaving some disgruntled customers when it turned out that their car warranties were no longer being honored.