Jeff Reasons was at a car show in Pensacola, FL, in 1991 when he saw one of the green Saleens that belonged to local Mustang collector Bruce Weiss. Not only did Bruce own a rare 7UP/Saleen, but he had ordered it with some custom work that included a Paxton-boosted 446-horsepower 302, rollbar, auxiliary lighting and a vented hood.
"I loved the way the car looked," the Jackson, TN, site grading contractor remembers. "The green paint was beautiful, and the white leather interior really stood out. I told myself I would have one like it some day."
Three years later, Jeff heard about a 7UP Mustang with only 2,000 miles in Albuquerque, NM, and bought it sight unseen so he could begin building his Saleen clone dream car. Once the Saleen body kit and wing were in place (thanks to body and paint specialist Robin Ellis), he installed a 13-pound Vortech S-trim supercharger with 2.95-inch pulley and swapped the stock cam for something more racy.
Jeff installed Saleen's complete Racecraft suspension and Tokico five-way adjustable struts. Because he's as serious about stopping as going, Jeff bought 13-inch Baer rotors for the front and 10.5-inchers for the rear, then tucked some brake cooling ducts behind the front spoiler. He hid the fancy brake hardware with a set of rare 17-inch Speedline five-lug wheels - 7.5-inches wide in front, 8.5-inches wide in the rear. 235/45-17 Sumitomos sit up front, and Nitto 555R drag radials make traction in back.
Jeff wasn't shy about introducing the gas pedal to the floor, though, and the stock 5.0-liter suffered a broken crankshaft. Under the two-inch cowl hood went a balanced and blueprinted DSS 306 long block with forged pistons, race-prepped rods and crankshaft; Anderson Ford Motorsports B31 camshaft with double roller timing chain; fuel rails; Vortech aftercooler; Aeromotive fuel system; Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads; a GT40 upper intake manifold with ported lower; 70mm throttle body; 80mm mass airflow sensor; 55-psi injectors; and a seven-quart Canton Racing Products oil pan full of Mobil synthetic lubricant.
Keeping the temperature gauge happy is a three-core Griffin aluminum radiator. Electricity is managed by an MSD 6AL ignition control box, 8mm Live Wire plug wires, Ford Motorsport sparkplugs and a trunk-mounted battery. Fuel flow is handled by an Aeromotive Eliminator fuel pump pulling from the stock tank and a sump.
Most of the recommendations for this engine build came from Rick Anderson and Danny Biggs of Anderson Ford Motorsport, a pair of enthusiasts who were also responsible for tuning it to 518 horsepower on the dyno.
"The engine could put out more power," Jeff says, "but I want it to be a good all-around performer.
"I had Anderson dynotune it 'fat' for the open track. I've only taken it down the quarter-mile three times; my best run was 12.2 seconds at 123 miles an hour. That was on worn Nitto drag radials and granny shifting."
Jeff backed up this healthy powerplant with a Tremec 3550 five-speed transmission, steel bellhousing, aluminum driveshaft, driveshaft loop, 3.73 gears, Auburn differential and 31-spline Moser axles. Bassani 1-3/4-inch shorty headers and mufflers route the hot exhaust gas to the back of the car with much gusto.
The chassis was also tweaked for the track, with the installation of a six-point custom rollbar, Hotchkis Tuning caster/camber plates and welded-in subframe connectors. Inside, Jeff applied Autometer gauges for boost, oil pressure and water temperature to the A-pillar, and an exterior Autometer fuel gauge to the cowl.
The 7UP/Saleens retained the Ford leather seats unless the customer requested otherwise. Jeff's clone still has the factory buckets in place, but their usefulness is enhanced with Simpson five-point harnesses and non-slip race pedals. A custom cloth convertible top headliner is a subtle touch Jeff installed to increase the rowdy car's creature comfort level.