Tom Wilson
September 11, 2007
Photos By: E. John Thawley III E. John Thawley III
Sporting an S281-E front spoiler and rear diffuser, Molly's ride is also unique in the body panel category. Aside from that, the rest of the body is pure S281 Saleen.

In case you're wondering, no, we haven't driven Molly's car. It doesn't match our gray beard, and we've already driven a representative of every Saleen street vehicle ever built except the Extreme. Besides, it's Molly's personal driver. It's something of an unexpected challenge for her. The car is a real whip, of course, so it's a blast to pedal, but people's reaction can make ownership a busy experience. On the highway Molly says she gets "totally paranoid" over the squadrons of rubber-neckers and their cell phone cameras swooping around her rear quarters. She's constantly worried they'll drive right into her, an understandable fear we can confirm from years of driving wildly attractive cars. People hover around you on the freeway, sitting in your blind spot for 15 minutes, mouths drooping and brains freewheeling. After a while you wish they'd just buzz off, but instead someone invented cell phone cameras, so now they drive with one hand on the wheel, the other desperately trying to hold their cell phone steady and their brains split between maintaining directional control and shooting the next National Geographic cover.

Saleen's regular wheel finish is a satin aluminum, but with Molly Pop, the chrome wheel option was a given. Saleen has been offering a couple of upgrade wheel and tire packages. The wheels can be chromed, and several ultra-high-performance tires are available.

Once at work, Molly parks her car in front of The Saleen Store and the experience continues. "I can't keep the women off it." Taking temporary leave of the social contract, women literally lay across the car to have their photo taken-again, typically by a cell phone camera. Considering Molly Pop is layered from roughly 30 clearcoats and numerous base, tint, color, and metallic coats and therefore can't be retouched, the fear of deep scratches can cause hives.

To be honest, everything considered, the attention is fun, especially for a young snap like Molly. Her plans for the car center on daily street driving, but she's planning on one competitive event: the cross country Cannonball Rally. She'll ship her Saleen to Miami and wheel it back to Los Angeles, aiming for the mandated 61-mph average and enjoying the parties at night. The event includes a single track day event, so the car will see some track action along the way.

So guys, if you want to attract gals, forget the polished supercharger. Just have Saleen color your world, and the gals will be leaping onto your hood. If you have the stuff for it, that is.

Fast Palette
Porsche offers an excellent test gauge of how color can elevate a car company. Through the '60s, Porsche was a boutique sports car builder for enthusiasts in the know. They were pricey, but not so much a dedicated enthusiast couldn't reasonably aspire to own one. Silver, of course, was the popular color.

In 1973, Porsche supplied 911 coupes for the Inter-national Race of Champions, with those 12 cars painted in Easter egg colors. The daring paint carried over to Porsche's street cars, which became hugely visible and soon backed up by blazing turbo models. Porsche was moving on to exotic status and its current reputation for huge performance and equally elevated prices.

It's similar with Saleen. Appearance has always been a Saleen strong suit. With a longtime association with BASF, the company has pushed the envelope in what automotive paint can be. Currently there are nine Saleen-specific colors, each with an indescribable contradiction of deep, almost dark color, a silvery sheen, sparkling highlights, and impossibly deep gloss. Equivalent to enameled fishing lures in their depth, color, and specular highlights, they're brash, yet sophisticated. Other good descriptions are "iridescent feel" or "glitter," and they all pop in sunlight.

Much about these colors are trade secrets, but in general, each requires a basecoat, several color coats, an application of trick metallics, and many clearcoats. Some colors, such as the new Molly Pop, aren't particular about the basecoat. Molly says her car started out as Torch Red from Ford. Other colors require a specific basecoat. Most are sensitive to the number of coats and require considerable skill on the painter's part-wet color looks completely different than the dry colors covered with metal and what seems to be an inch of clearcoats. Typically, the more color coats, the darker the hue; Lizstick, for example, picks up a distinct black look if there's too much color.

Of course, matching these paints is impossible, so work must be done in batches and collision or heavy scratch repair requires a complete respray.

As you may have guessed, these unique Saleen colors are expensive. The materials are costly and a lot is used, so the work must be done correctly the first time around. Specialized skill is required and people pay for the exclusivity. Pricing is $18,000 except for Rainbow, which is $20,000. That's just for the paint job-not the entire car.

Once painted, it pays to take special care to avoid damage. The paints are UV resistant, but they motivate owners against parking lot dings and other accidents. For the company's part, all the cars are shipped in enclosed trailers; the rest is up to the owners.

The nine special Saleen paints regularly available for2007 are:*Black Metallic*Beryllium*Lizstick*Pearl White *Saleen Extreme Rainbow Paint *Saleen S7 SilverSpeedlab YellowTrilogy SilverVictory BlueTwo new colors, Molly Pop and Liquid Mercury-a very special silver-have been applied to a total of four '07 Saleens, but both will be regular options for 2008. The Liquid Mercury Saleens include Liz Saleen's S331 pickup and a pair of S281 program cars.