January 17, 2014

Saleen George Follmer Edition

As a race driver himself, Steve Saleen has a great appreciation for the racers and cars that made up the Trans-Am series in the 1960s. In 2007, Saleen debuted his Parnelli Jones Edition Mustang, a Grabber Orange coupe that paid tribute to Jones’ Trans-Am Boss 302 from the championship 1970 season. Now Saleen is honoring Jones’ teammate, George Follmer, with a ’14 Mustang GT designed to resemble Follmer’s ’69 Trans-Am Boss 302 as part of a Saleen Heritage Collection, which also includes a Mark Donahue Camaro and Swede Savage Barracuda.

“As a specialty manufacturer and a driver myself, it is the perfect alignment of passions that allowed us to complete an entire collection of vehicles,” said Steve Saleen during the vehicles’ introduction at Laguna Seca Raceway last August.

The Follmer Mustang package adds more horsepower, up to 470, to the 5.0-liter engine with a “high rpm” intake, a 90mm throttle body, performance camshafts, and a Saleen Shaker hood system. In true Saleen fashion, the Follmer edition incorporates neat vintage details, like unique front chrome surround and “Minilite-inspired” wheels.

For more information, visit www.saleen.com.

A Few Minutes with Paul Breary

For the past 20 years, Paul Breary has hopped from assignment to assignment at Ford, working as a field service engineer in the Orlando region, moving to Sweden to take over product marketing for Volvo, and eventually landing a job back in the states in vehicle personalization, where he was involved with Mustangs like the California Special and ’12-’13 Boss 302. Now Paul gets to combine all of his experience into his job as manager of Cross Vehicle Enthusiast Marketing, where he oversees enthusiast events. Obviously, Mustang is a big part of the job.

We got a chance to learn more about Paul during the Mid America Ford and Shelby Nationals:

MM: Tell us about your job.

PB: I feel like I won the Ford lottery. I get to take all the things I’ve learned over the years and put them into one job. The job is kind of two-fold. There’s the more obvious part, which is sales and marketing—trying to get people to experience our vehicles and see them in a positive light. Then there’s also the aspect of understanding what enthusiasts like and appreciate about Ford. And how to bring that message back to marketing and product development so our future cars are better. A big part of the job is managing Ford’s participation at enthusiast events, like Mid America, Carlisle Ford Nationals, Formula Drift, and Barrett-Jackson, including the ride-and-drives. The list is pretty extensive. I would be gone every day of the year if I went to every event. But that’s why I like the job so much—because I get to go to the events.

MM: With “enthusiast” in your title, we would assume that Mustang is a big part of it?

PB: Absolutely. It may change over time because we now have a broader performance portfolio—Focus ST, Taurus SHO, Raptor, and even Explorer and Edge Sport. But over the past five decades, the most consistent performance product we’ve had is Mustang.

MM: Have you owned Mustangs?

PB: I’ve owned five. My first Ford after I joined the company was a ’91 LX 5.0. Then I had a ’03 GT convertible, followed by a ’10 GT convertible, a ’11 Cal Special convertible, and most recently a ’13 Cal Special convertible. As you can tell, I like convertibles. There’s something about going through the gears with the top down on a beautiful sunny day.

MM: How important is the enthusiast to Mustang marketing? There used to be a time when Ford said that was “preaching to the choir.”

PB: I think that has changed for a few reasons. The more obvious reason is that you can say that preaching to the choir makes sense because people listen to the choir. If anybody wants to know something about a car, even if it’s not a Ford, they’ll ask a car person, an enthusiast. It’s very influential. The other aspect of my job is listening to enthusiasts, understanding what they want. If you look at the previous Shelby, I don’t think a lot of people were going around saying that 550 horsepower wasn’t enough. But we did hear that people wanted it to handle a little better, so we changed the block to take over 100 pounds off the nose. And then for the next generation, we said, “Let’s see what we can do.” In the end, we’ve got an almost insane car with 662 horsepower. And I can guarantee that the next generation Mustang GT will be better because of enthusiasts.

MM: Tell us how the ride-and-drives help with that.

PB: This is the first year we’re doing the ride and drive at Mid America. We’ve got four dealers helping out and 15 or 20 vehicles. We find that people get into a car and say, “Wow, this is way nicer than I thought.” Or some will say, “It needs another cup holder.” And the next version will likely have another cup holder. So that part of it is as important as anything else.