Jerry Heasley
April 27, 2007

Horse Sense: Dodd Melcher bought the car because he liked the looks of the Saleen body kit accompanied with side skirts. Actually, the side exhausts are not Saleen; neither are the side vents. They're both Fastlane modifications. Most people wouldn't suspect these trick modifications aren't part of the S-281 Saleen-hardtop package.

Most buildups are just that: buildups. Dodd Melcher's '05 Saleen S-281 became much more than another project- it morphed into a prototype for a new twin-turbo system from the Houston, Texas, upstart Fastlane [(713) 600-8600; www.powerstrokes.com]. The company specializes in turbocharged performance for all manner of vehicles, including Mustangs.

Nick Field and Rick Ford started Fastlane in October 2004, but their supercar roots stretch back a couple of decades in the drag-racing arena. Nick owned a shop called Street Performance from 1993 to 2001. From 2001 to 2004, "Rick and I built and raced Dodge Vipers," Nick says. "The Saleen was our first twin turbo. It started out as a bet. The car's first owner was a collector named Mike Baas. He'd had every car in the world. The Saleen was his lowest-priced car. He wanted me to put a blower on it. Instead, we wanted to do something way out there. So, he made a bet with us we couldn't come up with our own twin-turbo kit in 30 days."

Growing up in Houston, they worked with some of the biggest shops in the area. Fastlane's crew had the background to engineer its twin-turbo kit from scratch, but they didn't realize how difficult the job would be in terms of torched pistons and cut-up turbos. Location was the first issue-where would two turbos fit? Second, which ones would work? "One of the mistakes we made early on was starting too small and getting the opposite of turbo lag, which was that the turbos spooled up too fast. In that case, they make a lot of power down low, but nothing up high," Nick says.

Bigger turbos were the answer, but how big? Fastlane worked day and night-to win their bet-as they went progressively bigger. The turbos they ended up using were Mitsubishi-based and were placed in an ideal location on the bottom of the 4.6 V-8. But Fastlane had to get down to nitty-gritty tech with turbo internals, such as the compressor-wheel size, the turbine-wheel size, the exhaust-housing diameter, and much more. "It gets fairly intricate," Rick says, making the understatement of the year.

While the final turbo iteration was far from off-the-shelf, another engineering problem was oiling. Too much oil (from the 4.6 to the pump) means the turbos leak and oil goes into the exhausts, making the car smoke. Evacuating too much oil starves the turbo for lubrication.

Nick and Rick went a couple weeks past the deadline, which cost them a "few thousand dollars extra." The partners got their success, but they spent much more money developing the twin turbo than their customer spent building his Saleen. Luckily, the kit "worked out so well, we started producing them," Nick says.

We were anxious to know how much horsepower the twin-turbo, 4.6 Three-Valve V-8 produced once the bugs were sorted out. With the Fastlane twin-turbo kit installed on the S281's stock engine, the 4.6 produced 470 hp at the rear tires. That's about 550 flywheel horsepower. For the record, the peak torque was about 475 and a whopping 550 down at 3,800 rpm. Dodd tells us, "The Saleen has brutal power, but we're not even running near our potential with 9 pounds of boost."

It could handle a lot more. Dodd isn't after a drag-racing car: His plan is to do his fast driving on the track and road race the pumped-up S281. His fort is "taking turns," so the smooth-handling Saleen proved a good choice. "On the streets, for me, I don't need to get tickets," he says. His problem is figuring out where to slot the twin turbo. "I have a feeling my S281 is going to put me in an open class of some sort because of the amount of power it makes."

What's In The Kit?
* Two hybrid Mitsubishi Turbos rated at up to 300 hp each
* Stainless hot-side tubing and flanges
* Front-mount custom intercooler
* Lightweight aluminum cold-side piping
* All pressure side tubing bead-rolled
* Internal 7-psi wastegates
* 39-lb/hr Ford injectors
* Fuel-pump booster
* Oil-return system with ultra-quiet pump
* SCT X-calibrator with dyno-proven programs
* All hardware, hose clamps, and small parts
* High-quality silicone hose and couplings

Options
* Adjustable boost controller
* 90mm inlet
* Lower-heat-range plugs

Cost
$6,995 Complete

TECH SPECS
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAINELECTRONICS
BlockEngine Management
StockStock with SCT tuning
BoreIgnition
3.{{{57}}} (stock 3.55, bored 0.020)Stock
StrokeGauges
StockAEM Wideband and Cyberdyne
Displacementdigital boost gauge
289ci (stock, bored 0.020) 
CrankshaftSUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
Cobra forged-steelFront Suspension
RodsK-member
Manley H-beamStock
PistonsControl Arms
Manley 0.020 with dishStock
CamsSprings
StockStock
Cylinder HeadsStruts
Stock with retrofitted spark plugsStock
Intake ManifoldBrakes
StockBaer 14-in rotors
Throttle BodyWheels
StockSaleen stock 20x9-in
Mass AirTires
StockPirelli 275/35/20
Power AdderRear Suspension
Fastlane Street twin-turbo kitSprings
Fuel SystemStock
Stock with 39-lb/hr injectors Shocks
and a Kenne Bell Boost-A-PumpStock
ExhaustControl Arms
Custom side pipes by FastlaneStock
TransmissionBrakes
Stock five-speed w/Spec Stage 3 Baer Eradispeed with 12-in rotors
clutchWheels
RearendSaleen 20x9-in
Stock 8.8 with 3.55 gearsTires
 Pirelli 275/40/20