Jim Smart
July 1, 2008

Scott Robinson has long had a thing for Saleen Mustangs. To be more specific, he always wanted a Fox-body Saleen coupe, commonly called a notchback. With less weight than hatchbacks and convertibles, coupes tend to be all business. The huge majority of Saleen Mustangs were the swoopier hatchbacks and sportier convertibles, but a handful left the Saleen production facility as lighter-weight coupes between model years 1985 and 1993.

For a long time, Scott had his eye on Dave and Penny Willis' '88 Saleen coupe. Clad in Oxford White with gold appointments, it was just what the doctor ordered for Scott's affliction. But he couldn't get his hands on the car for a while: Dave and Penny needed to give the car a good workout first.

Penny raced the Saleen coupe at Seattle, Portland, and a host of other tracks around the Pacific Northwest. She also did her share of autocrossing and made constructive changes to the car, adding a sunroof, an alarm system, a Panhard bar, and adjustable caster/camber plates. When it was time to retire from racing, Penny had the car repainted in its original Saleen livery.

Before we get into how Scott finally put this car in his garage, it's important to know its history. Saleen didn't originally order this coupe from Ford; it was ordered by the Oregon State Police as a pursuit vehicle. When the police department didn't accept delivery, it presented Dave and Penny with a unique opportunity to buy it and have Saleen build them an extraordinary Mustang. It's one of the more unusual Saleens ever built because of its cop-car features, such as manual windows, door locks, side mirrors, and fuel door, along with the absence of cruise control.

As a Saleen coupe, it's one of 25 built in 1988. Only five others were produced in Oxford White with gold, but it's the only one built from a police package coupe.

When Dave and Penny decided to sell the car, Scott was there with cash in hand. The problem was, he was fourth in line. As fate would have it, the three other potential buyers stepped aside for one reason or another, paving the way for Scott's purchase. He bought the car and headed home to Snohomish, Washington.

Scott didn't buy the car to put away for safekeeping. He bought it to have fun. Shortly after acquiring the Saleen, Scott and his wife, Lois, hit the road and headed to Southern California for Fabulous Fords Forever at Knott's Berry Farm in Los Angeles. By the time they returned home, they had added 2,600 miles to the odometer.

The way this car is packaged makes it great fun to drive. A Tremec T5 transmission enables Scott to ring it out, yet slip into overdrive when it's time to cruise. The wheels are Saleen 16-inch "baskets" wrapped in Goodyear Eagle GS-C 225/50ZR/16 tires. Inside, Scott's Saleen is an interesting mix of stark and sport/luxury. Stark comes from its Special Service status when ordered by the Oregon State Police. Sport/luxury comes from the Saleen modifications, such as bucket seats with side bolsters and good lumbar support.

When we asked Scott why he didn't trailer the car, his response was straightforward. "Since the car's main function is long road trips, it has only 55,000 miles. Pampered? Yes! Trailered? Never! It's driven the way it was intended."

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