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.

S281
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.