Drew Phillips
January 1, 2009

Horse Sense: Don't be confused that the Speedlab is another new model from Saleen (www.saleen.com). Saleen builds its turn-key Mustangs, and its Speedlab division offers you the opportunity to customize your Saleen or other Mustang even further.

The average American will hold 10 different jobs between the ages of 18 and 38, averaging a different job every two years. Whether it's a lack of job satisfaction or simply moving onto greener pastures, the current generation of workers doesn't seem to hold a job for long.

Whatever the reason, it can be hard for companies to find loyal employees. Such as Carlos Duran. He's been working for Saleen for 12 years, starting as a shipping clerk and working through the rankings to eventually become the sales manager for Speedlab, Saleen's aftermarket division. Of course, it's probably easier to like your job when you get to work with high-horsepower Mustangs all day.

While Carlos' day-to-day responsibilities keep him pretty busy, one of the highlights of his job has been building Speedlab's project and development Mustang. The car's purpose is to serve as a testbed for new products and to show off Saleen's lineup of parts, some available right now and some that will be offered in the near future. "I was allowed to choose between a silver convertible and a red coupe," he recalls. "I wanted the most solid platform to work with, so I went with the coupe." It was an '05 Saleen S281 Three-Valve, bumper number 1414. As you can imagine, Carlos' new project Mustang remained stock for mere moments. "I drove it out of the shop that day and had the matte-black stripe put on it. A day later we installed a Saleen supercharger."

It wasn't long before the Speedlab team turned up the wick even further. They wanted to offer their customers as much horsepower as possible and so began testing the limits of the stock bottom end. The result is the Speedlab 550hp supercharger kit, available as a complete system or as an upgrade for current Saleen owners. Not long after, Speedlab launched its line of 302ci crate engines, and, of course, one found its way into Carlos' Mustang. The new aluminum Three-Valve block came complete with a Saleen-spec forged rotating assembly, including aluminum pistons, steel connecting rods, and a Kellogg stroker crankshaft. American Racing Headers also provided a set of its long-tube headers and an x-shaped crossover setup to help the exhaust system breathe easier.

With the supercharger pushing out 12 pounds of boost, the Three-Valve motor produced 505 hp and 495 lb-ft torque at the rear wheels. New drivetrain components were needed to handle the extra power, and a Tremec six-speed transmission, SPEC Stage 2 clutch, and one-piece aluminum driveshaft made their way into the car.

You might think the guys at Speedlab only care about going fast, but Carlos wanted the Mustang to be visually appealing as well. The standard Saleen body kit served as a great starting point, but he wanted a unique look, different than any ohter Saleen Mustang. The result is both retro and modern, combining a variety of components from the Saleen parts bin, as well as a few custom pieces.

Quarter-window panels and rear-window louvers were sourced from Saleen's Heritage body kit, and the carbon-fiber rear diffuser came from the S302 Extreme Mustang. More carbon fiber continues along the lower portion of the car and is used for the custom side skirts and chin spoiler, both of which will be available for Saleen Speedlab in the future. Carlos finished off the interior with black, five-spoke Saleen alloy wheels, wrapped with Pirelli PZero Rossa tires, 275/35-20 front and 305/40-20 rear.