Brad Bowling
December 1, 2006
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

As expected, the S-281 has been mechanically solid, the rare exception being an intake manifold seal that blew out a few months after the Doolittles drove it home for the first time and a three-core radiator that sprang a leak. Now that the exterior and interior are suitably mind-blowing, Kevin and Carmel have started thinking about power upgrades. They have already installed a Centerforce clutch, C&L elbow intake, MAC cold air kit and K&N filter. Kevin tells us there are more modifications sitting in his garage floor.

"I have a set of headers, a '99-and-later PI intake and matching heads ready to go right now. I'm waiting to put them on until I can put on a supercharger at the same time."

Has Kevin felt handicapped by his choice of a post-5.0 engine? Not in the least.

"I don't know what the fuss was all about,but I remember a lot of people were upset about losing the 302," he recalls. "Now it looks like I've got more parts to choose from than what they used to offer for 5.0s." Don't saythat too loudly, Kevin, there may be some 5.0 guys listening.

Interior / Exterior
Kevin & Carmel Doolittle's 1996 Saleen S-281 Convertible

Exterior
Saleen front fascia, side skirts, rear valance, rear wing

Interior
Black custom leather seats with blue inserts, color-matching inside door panels, leather shift knob

Chassis
Racecraft G-load brace, balanced and customized driveshaft

Suspension
Racecraft progressive-rate front/rear coils, gas shocks and struts, special strut mounting bushings, urethane swaybar bushings

Wheels And Tires
18 x 8.5" Saleen five-spoke alloy wheels (front); 18 x 10" (rear), Nitto 555 tires (245/40-18 all around)

Specifications
Kevin & Carmel Doolittle's 1996 Saleen S-281 Convertible

Engine
Ford 4.6-liter SOHC V-8

Engine Modifications
High-performance sparkplug wires, MAC cold air kit, K&N filter, Borla mufflers

Engine Management
Ford EEC-V

Driveline
Short-throw shifter, Centerforce clutch, 3.55:1 gears

Numbers
220 horsepower (Saleen-advertised crank output)

Acknowledgements
California Customs of Pensacola, Florida, Ken's Car Tunes, K&D Lawn Services, Blue Oval Motorsports Car Club and especially Carmel, Mattie and Grayson Doolittle