Jim Smart
July 1, 2001
Photos By: E. John Thawley, III

Steve Saleen has been building high-performance Mustangs for almost two decades. His efforts outdo any other specialty car bearing the Ford name to date. So it comes as no surprise to us that Saleen is still going strong in 2001 with dream-spinner cars most of us would like to own and drive.

Flagship To The Saleen LineThe Saleen S281 Mustang has been in continuous production since it debuted in 1996. For 2001 the S281 remains the Saleen flagship it has always been. It's a car that's hot for the masses that want the Saleen name without super heavyweight car payments. In short, it's affordable.

The S281 sports Ford's venerable 4.6L SOHC V-8 engine with 285 hp on tap. What makes this 4.6 better than a Mustang GT's 4.6 is special fuel calibration, underdrive pulleys, and a hot exhaust system that gives the S281 an authoritative roar when the throttle is opened. What's really groovy is an available Roots supercharger that bumps the poop to 365 hp; that's 15 more horses than the 2000 model! What's more, the '01 Saleen Mustang is a low-emissions vehicle, making it more environmentally friendly. Behind the 4.6 Mod' motor is the Saleen Quick-Ratio five-speed tied to a choice of 8.8-inch axles with 3.27:1 or 3.55:1 ratios. Saleen posi-traction is also optional.

"Saleen offers the most power, style, and range for the price," said Steve Saleen, president and founder of Saleen, Inc. Steve added that the S281 is faster than a Porsche Boxter, a BMW Z-3, and a Jaguar XK-8, yet it's priced lower; talk about a great sports car for fewer bucks. The Saleen S281 also pulls better skidpad figures than most of these more expensive sports cars, including Chevrolet's Corvette!

As you might expect from Saleen, the underpinnings are where this ride really shines with the Saleen Racecraft suspension, 18-inch wheels and tires, and more. On the ground are Pirelli P7000 standard radials. Saleen asks not only how fast do you want to go, but also how fast do you want to stop? Four-wheel antilock disc brakes bring this Pony safely to a stop in nearly all conditions. Up front are 10.8-inch discs; in back are 10.5-inch units. Also available are optional 13.0-inch grooved front discs for maximum stopping power.

The '01 S281 continues the Saleen tradition for fine styling with a long hood, a short deck, sculptured lines, and an array of striking colors, such as Speedlab Yellow, Saleen S7 Silver, Lizstick Red, Pearl White, Stealth Black, Beryllium, Victory Blue, and Bright Signature Red.

The S281 goes from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds, with quarter-mile times around 13.9 seconds at 98 mph. Opt for the supercharger for 0-60 mph in the 4.9-second range and quarter-mile times around 13.4 seconds; call the Saleen S281 fast company.

Saleen S281s at a Glance
  S281 Supercharged S281
0-30 mph 1.89 sec 2.07 sec
0-60 mph 5.26 sec 4.99 sec
0-{{{100}}} mph 14.16 sec 11.88 sec
Quarter-mile 13.92 at 100.04 mph 13.48 at 107.19 mph
60-0 mph 122 ft 122 ft
Slalom 61.{{{80}}} sec {{{62}}}.46 sec
Curb weight 3,064 lbs 3,064 lbs
Weight distribution 56 front/44 rear 56 front/44 rear
Fuel capacity 15.7 gal 15.7 gal
Wheelbase 101.3 in 101.3 in
Track 59.7 in, front/61.5 in, rear 59.7 in, front/61.5 in, rear
Width 73.1 in 73.1 in
Length 183.2 in 183.2 in
Height 53.1 in 53.1 in
Trunk space 10.9 ci 10.9 ci
Engine 4.6 2V SOHC 4.6 2V SOHC
    Roots-style supercharger
Horsepower 285 at 5,100 rpm 365 at 6,000 rpm
Torque 315 lb-ft at 4,100 rpm 400 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm

Saleen SR
Did you know that the upscale Saleen SR was wind tunnel-tested at Lockheed-Martin in Marietta, Georgia? This explains the SR's very slippery lines that make it a cut above the S281. The '01 Saleen SR takes street performance to its highest plateau with a mind-bending, supercharged 505 hp from more conventional Ford power: the fuel-injected 5.8L (351W) small-block.

"We've used our racing experience and adapted this technology into the engineering to make the SR the ultimate street-performance vehicle," Steve told us. He's not kidding either. The SR will crack 0-60 in considerably less time than the supercharged S281. Quarter-mile times will blow away most any '60s musclecar, including the 428 Cobra Jet Mustang.

What impresses us about the '01 SR is the use of the pushrod 351W small-block with time-proven snap-and-twist and a six-speed transmission. The six-speed offers us two overdrive ranges for better cruising. In back is a fully independent rear suspension with 3.55:1 gears inside the differential. Huge 14.4-inch front disc brakes give you stopping power compatible with the 351's power underhood. The SR has a complete rollcage and suspension reinforcement system. A refined Saleen Racecraft suspension sports independent, uneven double wishbones in back, along with Saleen N2 triple-adjustable shocks and adjustable sway bars.

Race-inspired bucket seats provide unending support for tired posteriors. A white-faced, 200-mph speedometer provides food for thought for those determined to court eternity. It may actually take an eternity to pay for the Saleen SR at $158,000 a copy.

For more information, contact Saleen, Inc., Dept. MM, 9 Whatney, Irvine, CA 92618; (949) 597-4900; fax, (949) 597-0301; or visit the Web site www.saleen.com.