Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
1993 Ford Saleen Spyder - Fox Fantastic
Carl Phillips is livin’ the Saleen Spyder dream
It's safe to say that even Ford Motor company was surprised by the wild success of the Fox-body Mustang.
With it, Ford hit on a basic formula that incorporated a lightweight chassis, good power, and an affordable price. The 5.0L-powered models became popular with all types of racers, and Steve Saleen capitalized by building his special Saleen Mustangs.
With a refreshed SN-95 chassis on the way, Saleen offered something special for the company's last Fox-bodied offerings: the Spyder. Available for convertible Mustangs, the $945 optional package included a two-point light bar and a rear seat tonneau cover. The pieces gave the four-seat chassis the appearance of a two-seater sports car.
Hendersonville, Tennessee's Carl Phillips is the proud owner of Saleen Mustang serial number 93-072, one of 26 Saleens built in 1993 equipped with the rare Spyder package. With a garage that also includes a '69 Shelby vintage road-race car, Carl admits, "The Shelby is cool, but I really enjoy these Fox Mustangs." And who wouldn't? Phillips has a few other Saleens in the family, including two from 1985, serial numbers 063 and 134.
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Carl enjoys the camaraderie of fellow Saleen owners, many of whom gather at the annual Shelby American Automobile Club's Spring Fling in Nashville, Indiana. Sharing the wandering eye of the automotive enthusiast, a few years ago Carl mingled with a group attending the event that were aware of a '93 Saleen Spyder for sale on eBay. The bids were a hot topic of conversation, but nobody in the group knew that one of the bidders was amongst them.
As the auction expired, Carl passed his mobile phone around, and the banter began. Carl was the new owner of one of the most sought-after Fox Mustangs.
Even though the Saleen Spyder's pedigree bolsters its value, its collectible status isn't everything to Carl. "Someone once offered me a new-in-the-wrapper '93 Cobra R for the Sypder. I turned him down because I couldn't drive the R without worrying about the depreciation every time I left the driveway. I'd rather own the Saleen—a car I can drive and enjoy," he stated.
Carl's driving enjoyment is further enhanced by the Sypder's performance modifications. Though No. 93-072 wasn't equipped with a factory-installed supercharger, a Vortech S-trim blower now makes the 302Supercharged decals on the hood legitimate. The polished centrifugal unit pumps air through a 75mm throttle body, Holley SysteMax intake manifold, and AFR 165cc cylinder heads. 42-lb/hr injectors and Accel 8.8mm wires keep the supercharged 302 well-fed and lit. A full Bassani exhaust system including long-tube headers, catted X-style mid-pipe, and high-flow mufflers channel the spent gasses melodiously behind the Saleen rear valence.
The rest of the car remains as-delivered from Saleen, including the 17x8-inch and 17x9-inch Stern alloy wheels, five-lug disc brakes at all four corners, lowered Saleen suspension, and 3.08:1 rear gears. Besides the aforementioned Spyder tonneau cover and lightbar, the interior is nicely appointed with Saleen's Recaro bucket seats, white-face 170-mph gauges, and a leather shifter knob.
Even on a chilly fall day, cruising with the top down is a visceral experience. The whistle of the supercharger and howl of the exhaust easily overcome the crackle of the leaves that stir in the Saleen's wake. With such a mechanical concert playing, we expect the radio doesn't get much use.