Frank H. Cicerale
December 1, 2007
Photos By: Peter S. Linney
Molly's Saleen showcases 20-inch chrome five-spoke rims shod in Pirelli P-Zero Rosso tires, setting off the pink hue just that much more.

In 1986, the Saleen brand and its flagship, the Saleen Mustang, were a mere two years old. The head of the newly founded Saleen Autosport, founder and then-chairman Steve Saleen, used his racing experience to turn the new Fox-body Mustang into a car that felt at home both on the street and at the track. Sporting different bodywork fore and aft, as well as a "whale-tail" rear spoiler ( la Porsche 911), mesh rims, and a host of other goodies, the Saleen Mustangs looked every bit the part of a road-race car-best of all, you could pick one up at specified Ford dealerships. Inside, there were Saleen-specific enhancements such as gauges and a racy steering wheel. Throw in a Racecraft suspension and the ever-popular serial numbering, and the Saleen Mustang quickly became a desirable machine on its own.

While Steve was getting Saleen onto its feet and on its way to being one of the most iconic companies in Mustang history, he and his wife, Liz, were raising their young daughter, Molly. At the same time, teenagers were hitting the movie theaters to check out a new movie in which a poor high school girl named Andie falls in love with a "richie" named Blaine, while her best friend, Duckie, swoons over her. The movie was Pretty in Pink, and the girl playing the character Andie was none other than arguably the '80's biggest teenage actress, Molly Ringwald.

Fast forward some 20 years, and while Molly Ringwald is just a tick under the big 4-0, Molly Saleen is a recent college graduate in her 20s, making her own version of Pretty in Pink with every jaunt in her Saleen S281-SC Mustang.

Why all of this talk about pink, you ask? One glance at Molly's ride and you'll have the hot-pink iridescent answer. Behind every car is a story, though, and Molly's is no different. To tell the tale of this explosive Mustang is to tell the tale of Molly Saleen and her famous father.

Molly got her car from her parents upon graduating from the University of Southern California, and it's one of the most unique Saleens ever. "I graduated from USC as a psychology major and a law minor, and started working at a law firm as well as at the Saleen Store," Molly says. While she could've had a career helping us MM&FF staffers deal with our car obsessions and getting out of speeding tickets, Molly wanted to go her own route, both in life and with her ride. "My parents let me make my own decisions and go my own direction, and that was why I worked at both the law firm and at the Saleen Store after graduation."

With Molly's last name being Saleen, she pretty much had the pick of the litter when it came time to option out her Mustang. One of the items she went with was the Scenic Roof option. Not wanting to deal with a windy convertible, but knowing she wanted an open-air feel to her Saleen, the Scenic Roof was the perfect compromise.

Eventually, though, Molly's passion for the Saleen Mustang and racing overwhelmed her desire to stay in the law field. "I've always been passionate about the family, the brand, and about racing," Molly explains. "That's why I went in the direction I did."

That direction was manager of the Saleen Store. Around the same time, her father retired, leaving many to question what would happen to the company. "A lot of customers were concerned when Dad left," Molly says. "That's why it helps being the manager of the Saleen Store. Customers see me and recognize me as his daughter. I wasn't handed the job because I am his daughter, though. I worked hard to get this position."

Liz and Steve are no longer involved in the company, but they still have an influence on how Molly maintains her role within Saleen and those surrounding her. "My dad has always been my mentor, and my mom has always been supportive," she says. "That's why I am able to do something I have wanted to do for myself."

Being in the public eye and holding the position she does with the company meant that her own Saleen would have to make just as huge of an impact as the first one did back in 1984