As a driver, team owner, and even as a manufacturer, Dan Gurney has racing credentials like no one else. He is one of four American drivers to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the only one to win in a car of his own manufacture. Dan was the first driver to win races in Formula 1, NASCAR, and IndyCar (only two have done so since-Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya), and he's also captured victories in Can-Am and Trans-Am. As a team owner he won the Indy 500 three times and captured three IndyCar championships. His All American Racers won a total of 78 races, including the Indy 500 three times, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the 24 Hours of Daytona. Dan is even the one who started the tradition of spraying the champagne on top of the podium after his victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Starting to get the point?
With Gurney having such an incredible impact on motorsports, both in America and on the international stage, it's no surprise that Saleen chose him as a subject for its Signature Series vehicle lineup. Introduced at the 2008 New York International Auto Show, the Gurney Mustang is the second signature Mustang to come from Saleen, the first being the Parnelli Jones Limited Mustang introduced two years prior at the same show that commemorated his championship-winning 1970 Trans-Am race car.
Like Parnelli's, Dan's Mustang is styled after his Trans-Am Mustang, but from the 1969 season rather than from 1970. Interestingly, Gurney didn't have too much success in Trans-Am with the Mustang. He was brought in late in the 1969 season with only four races left as part of the Shelby team to take on the dominant Camaros. Gurney brought home a Third-Place finish at Laguna Seca and a 10th place in Kent, Washington, but factory support from Ford was transferred to the Bud Moore team for 1970 and Dan switched to a Plymouth Barracuda for the 1970 season. With Gurney's uncharacteristic lack of racing success with the Mustang in Trans-Am, would the two make a suitable pair for a modern rendition of the American muscle car? We aimed to find out, and convinced Saleen to let us behind the wheel of a Gurney Edition Mustang.
The S197 Mustang's retro look lends itself to a variety of classic interpretations, and Saleen came up with a styling package for the Gurney Edition Mustang that Dan would be proud of. To create the look they wanted, Saleen started off with its Heritage body kit, including the front and rear fascias, side skirts, chrome trim, and classic hoodpins. Everything else is unique to the Saleen lineup, from the Stinger-style hood to the ducktail rear spoiler. A special graphics package, including side stripes and No. 2 roundels, mimics Dan's original race car, and the Gurney Eagle, the symbol of Dan's race teams, can be found throughout the car. The result is a Mustang that deservedly received Gurney's stamp of approval. "I am pleased that they could make a car that is so beautiful but still so true to my old race car," he told the crowd at the unveiling in New York.
Saleen continues the combination of form and function with the interior, installing leather sport seats with Alcantara inserts and the Gurney Eagle embroidered in the headrests. The bucket seats are comfortable and supportive, and we love the look of the off-center triple racing stripes. A unique six-gauge instrument cluster with a 180-mph speedometer replaces the stock piece, and a dash-mounted gauge pod showing boost pressure and intake air temperature makes sure the car is running smoothly. Other details provide a more upscale look, from the leather-trimmed billet shift knob to the performance driving pedals. Saleen also adds chrome dash vent bezels, unique floor mats, and Gurney Edition badging on the steering wheel and door sill plates. To top it off, Dan signs the dash of each car, signifying his stamp of approval.
There's no way Dan Gurney would let Saleen build a Mustang with his name on it without adding more power, but he wanted to make sure the car remained relatively affordable as well. To do this, Saleen fitted its tried-and-true Series VI supercharger system complete with a dual-stage water-to-air intercooler, high-flow intake, and 39 lb/hr fuel injectors. The 4.6L V-8 produces 465hp at 5,800 rpm and 425 lb-ft torque at 4,000 rpm. "This is likely the best all-around 281 supercharged car that Saleen has ever built," Saleen General Manager Marques McCammon told us. Having driven a few other supercharged Saleens, we wouldn't argue with him. Combined with a set of 3.73 gears, the Gurney Mustang launches with brutal force and can pull hard at any speed.
Gurney is a road racer at heart, so it's no surprise that he wanted to personally make sure that the Mustang bearing his name could hold its own around a racetrack. He worked closely with Saleen's chassis engineers, fine-tuning the suspension settings, to get them just the way he wanted. New shocks and springs offer a sportier ride, and thicker antiroll bars with heavy-duty bushings help prevent body roll. Saleen's second-generation Watt's linkage system also comes standard, helping to keep the car planted during hard cornering. Lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels are wrapped with super sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires, P285/30ZR19 both front and rear, and Saleen's 14-inch front braking system provides plenty of stopping power. We were expecting a fairly stiff ride, but were pleasantly surprised at how comfortable and compliant the Gurney Mustang was on the road. Still, we wouldn't consider the car soft by any means, and had tons of fun attacking some twisty canyon roads. The Pirellis have tons of grip and the Watt's linkage keeps the rear end buttoned down even over the bumpiest curves.
After spending time behind the wheel of the Gurney Mustang, we can truly say that Saleen has built a fitting tribute to one of America's greatest racing legends. It has the classic good looks of a Trans-Am racer and the power and handling befitting a car bearing the Gurney name. Unfortunately, with a hefty price tag of $58,849 (includes gas-guzzler tax and freight) and a production run of only 300, there will only be a limited number of enthusiasts who will be able to put one in the garage, but as Saleen's motto goes, "Power in the Hands of a Few."
For more information on the Saleen Gurney Signature Edition Mustang, visit www saleen.com.
Saleen Gurney Signature Edition Mustang
- 281 ci (4.6L) Three-Valve SOHC V-8
- 465 hp @ 5,800 rpm
- 425 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
- 3.55-inch bore
- 3.54-inch stroke
- 39 lb/hr fuel injectors
- 98mm MAF
- Series VI twin-screw supercharger
- Dual-stage water-to-air intercooler system
- Hi-flow inlet tube, airbox cover and filter
- Power Flash performance calibration
- 3.73 gears
- MaxGrip speed-sensitive LSD
- 2½-inch stainless steel dual exhaust system with charcoal dual aluminum tips
- Front: Sport-tuned coil springs, 1.38-inch sway bar with heavy-duty bushings, N2 struts
- Rear: N2 shocks, 0.79-inch sway bar, Watt's linkage
- Front: 14-inch slotted & vented disc, four-piston caliper
- Rear: 11.8-inch vented rear disc, single-piston calipers
- Power-assisted with ABS
- Front: Heritage Edition Charcoal five-spoke aluminum, Gurney center cap, 19x9
- Rear: Heritage Edition Charcoal five-spoke aluminum, Gurney center cap, 19x10
- Front: High performance Pirelli P Zero Corsa, P285/30ZR19
- Rear: High performance Pirelli P Zero Corsa, P285/35ZR19
- Tire pressure monitoring system
- Gurney Edition leather sport seats with Alcantara inserts, stitching & Gurney Eagle embroidery, Alcantara door trim inserts, Heritage Edition six-gauge instrument cluster with 180-mph speedometer & MyColor feature, Heritage Edition gauge pod with boost and air temperature gauges, chrome dash vent bezels, Gurney Edition steering wheel emblem, leather trimmed billet shift knob & short throw shifter, Heritage Edition floor mats, performance driving pedals with driver foot brace, Gurney Edition aluminum door sill plates, Gurney Edition graphics and badging, Gurney Edition console plaque
- Gurney Edition windshield banner, side stripes, fender badges, decal package, hood, duck tail spoiler, mesh driving light covers; Heritage Edition front and rear fascias, air dam, hoodpins, chrome trim, side skirts; championship wreath graphic; race-inspired billet fuel door; body-color side-mirror caps
- High Intensity Discharged (HID) headlights
- Scenic roof
- Rear window louvers
- Performance white with blue graphics
- Torch red with white graphics
- Vista blue with white graphics