Saleen HistorySource: SaleenAbout
Saleen Inc., celebrating its twentieth anniversary as a specialty vehicle manufacturer, specializes in the manufacture of vehicles for enthusiasts that include technology developed from the Saleen/Allen Speedlab race team, eight-time winners of sports car racing manufacturer championships.
Saleen creates high performance vehicles for street and track, including the S7 supercar, the S281, the race/road SR and the N2O Focus. The company also produces and markets a broad line of performance parts as well as offering design, engineering and certification services.
The company, started by former racing driver Steve Saleen, began in 1983. Saleen used his business degree from USC, coupled with experience in his father's manufacturing business, to build the company. His passion for racing also played a part. Steve began autocrossing, then rapidly moved into SCCA pro series (Formula Atlantic, Trans-Am Championship) and then into Indy car racing.
By 1984, the first Saleen street car was ready for sale. It boasted special aerodynamics, an attractive and highly functional cockpit and a precise handling suspension package. The result was a car built as a limited edition model with individual serial numbers assuring authenticity. Later, demonstrating the car's performance, the company's race team brought home a victory for Saleen, Ford and sponsor General Tire at the 24-hour race at Mosport Park in Ontario, Canada.
Saleen Special Vehicles
In 2003 Ford chose Saleen, Inc. as one of the key suppliers to the Ford GT. To build this low-volume super car, Chris Theodore, Ford's vice president of product development assembled a team of performance engineering experts, such as Saleen, with the skills to deliver and the knowledge to get things done within Ford while operating outside the established system.
Many of the assembly processes already employed by Saleen to manufacture its Mustang, N20 Focus and S7 models will be used for the paint and vehicle assembly responsibilities Saleen will assume for the new Ford GT.
To provide these services to Ford, Saleen has opened a nearly 200,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Troy, Michigan known as Saleen Special Vehicles (SSV) or Saleen, Troy. Housed in this building are a highly efficient GT assembly line, state-of-the-art painting facilities and a group of highly creative and specialized designers, engineers and fabricators capable of producing one-off show cars such as the critically acclaimed 2005 Ford Mustang GT-R.
Steve Saleen is founder and president of Saleen, Inc., a specialty vehicle manufacturer. Saleen worked at his father's manufacturing business prior to attending the University of Southern California. He graduated with a degree in business. His interest in fast cars was sparked by his father's purchase of a Porsche. Saleen joined the Porsche Owners Club and began to autocross and race, leading to a career in professional racing. He set 13 SCCA Formula Atlantic records and finished third in the championship behind Jacques Villeneuve in 1980. In 1982, Saleen entered the Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am Championship.
In 1984, Saleen formed Saleen Autosport. Following in the footsteps of, Carroll Shelby, Saleen began improving the appearance and performance characteristics of the Mustang. By 1984, Saleen had completed the first Saleen Mustang. He equipped the car with special aerodynamic, suspension and handling packages and an attractive and highly functional cockpit. Proving that his car could successfully compete against the world's top sports cars, Saleen brought home a win at the grueling 24-hour race in Mosport, Canada.
Victories continued in 1987, where the Saleen team captured SCCA championship titles for driver, team, manufacturer and tire. In 1989, Saleen tested his mettle in the CART/PPG lndy Car World Series. He returned to the Trans-Am series in 1990-91. He won the 1991 SCCA Race Truck Championship driving a Ford Ranger.
In 1995, Saleen teamed up with motion picture and television star Tim Allen and racing legend Bob Bondurant to form the Saleen/Allen 'RRR' Speedlab race team, which campaigned Saleen Mustangs in the SCCA World Challenge Series. The next year, Saleen was inducted into the Mustang Hall of Fame along with Carroll Shelby.
In 1997, the team successfully competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A Saleen Mustang also clinched the SCCA Manufacturer's title for the third time. In 1998, the team claimed their fourth SCCA Manufacturer's Championship title as well as first and second-place in the Driver's Championship.
Saleen introduced the Saleen Mustang S351, then the fastest vehicle available on a showroom floor, along with the S281 for high performance at a lower cost. He built the first high performance sport-utility vehicle, the XP8 and then the SR, the fastest Ford Mustang. With the introduction of the S7, Saleen created his first vehicle not based on any previously-existing platform.
Steve Saleen is married to Liz and has a daughter, Molly, and two sons, Clint and Sean. The Saleens live in Orange County, California, near the company's production facility.