March 1, 2014

Saleen Celebrates 30

While the Mustang prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, a big name in Mustang history is celebrating a birthday of its own. In 1984, Steve Saleen sold two Saleen Mustangs to launch Saleen Autosports as a specialty vehicle manufacturer. It was the start of a long line of high-performance variants for Mustang and Saleen, who went on to produce thousands of Saleen Mustangs and win a Showroom Stock racing championship in 1989.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of those first Saleen Mustangs, Saleen Automotive is producing 10 Saleen SA-30 Mustangs, along with 10 Challengers and 10 Camaros. The Mustang represents the sixth edition of the Saleen SA—for Saleen Anniversary—which is produced every five years.

With 30 years marking the pearl anniversary, the SA-30 lineup will be available in a single color theme—custom "Tire Smoke" pearl white with Speedlab yellow/black components and pearl white Saleen wheels. The interior features a new design with SA-30 carpeting, black leather seats with Alcantara, and interior badging. As an SA-30 Mustang option, Saleen worked with Glass Apps to develop a Frost-Touch Glass panoramic glass roof that changes from translucent to opaque with the touch of a button. The supercharged 5.0-liter engine develops 625hp, while the suspension is a carry-over from the current Saleen 302 Mustang.

Available from Saleen dealers nationwide, pricing for the Saleen SA-30 is set at $95,000 before options. Visit www.saleen.com for more information.

The supercharged 5.0-liter engine develops 625 hp, while the suspension is a carry-over from the current Saleen 302 Mustang.

Shinoda Mustang Undergoing Restoration

In 1976, John Grafelman purchased a '69 428 CJ Mach 1 that he spotted for sale in the Peoria, Illinois, newspaper classifieds. It had Boss 302-style C-stripes, a thin-blade rear spoiler, and odd rear window slats, but in those days, weird modifications were not unusual on seven year-old musclecars. Grafelman drove the Mustang for a couple of years, then parked it in his barn when son Jason was born. After all, it was difficult to transport a new baby in the backseat of a two-door Mustang SportsRoof.

Nearly three decades later, it was Jason who convinced his father to research the car's history, eventually learning that the oddly equipped Mustang was originally ordered and owned by Larry Shinoda, the Ford designer who created the '69 and '70 Boss 302 graphics (see "Rare Finds" in the October 2011 issue). Shinoda applied his graphics to his personal Mach 1, taking photos of his daughters with the car in the family driveway, then sold it in the early 1970s. Boss 302 enthusiasts eagerly searched for the car to no avail. It was in Grafelman's barn all that time.

For the past couple of years, Grafelman has displayed the historic Mustang in its survivor condition. Now he has selected a restorer, noted Boss expert Bob Perkins from Perkins Restorations in Juneau, Wisconsin. The plan is to restore the car, with bodywork assistance from Phillip Schultz, to its condition when owned by Shinoda, hopefully in time for the Mustang's 50th anniversary in April.

'15 Stars in Need for Speed Rivals

Gamers got the first chance to get behind the wheel of the new '15 Mustang when EA and Ford teamed up for the "Need for Speed Rivals" video game. Just days after the ‘15 Mustang was revealed around the world, it automatically appeared in the garage of cars available for the arcade-style racing game.

"We worked closely with the EA development team to provide them with engineering data for the new Mustang several months before we showed it to the rest of the world," said Mark Bentley, Ford product licensing manager. "Computer design models enabled the game developers to create an accurate representation of the new Mustang before it goes on sale."

The exclusive, customized Mustang "hero car" from the upcoming Need for Speed movie is also available to drive and has been playable in the game since it launched in November. Along with the new car, Need for Speed players can also choose to get behind the wheel of the Shelby GT 500, which is available as a police chase vehicle. In the game, players can choose from five different designs to give their new Mustang a unique look, four of them selected from the designs that received the most votes in Ford's Mustang Customizer application plus a bonus design created by drift champion Vaughn Gittin Jr.

Need for Speed Rivals is available at www.origin.com for the PlayStation 3; PlayStation 4; Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft; Xbox 360, and Windows PC.

Countdown to the 50th

On April 16-20, 2014, Ford Motor Company and the Mustang Club of America will celebrate the Mustang's 50th anniversary with two simultaneous Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration events at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Related activities start two weeks earlier with Great American Pony Drives from seven locations cruising to Norman, Oklahoma, for an official Kick-Off weekend followed by eastbound and westbound Pony Drives to the Mustang 50th events.

The official website, www.mustang50thbirthdaycelebration.com, includes registration and hotel information for the events, the Kick-Off weekend, and Pony Drives. Event schedules will be updated as information becomes available.

Update: We're hearing that Ford's display at both Charlotte and Las Vegas will take up to five days to set-up. Should be impressive. Also, Ford is planning ride and drives at both events to provide participants with the chance to experience new Ford vehicles.

Update: Historic seminars are planned on Friday and Saturday at both events. Charlotte: retired Ford designer Gale Halderman, who is credited with the sketch that became the '65 Mustang, and former Mustang chief engineer Art Hyde, who spearheaded the '01 Bullitt and '03-'04 Mach 1 specialty models. Las Vegas: retired Ford product planner Hal Sperlich, who led the product development for the '65 Mustang.

Update: A Mustang 50th Golf Scramble has been added to Charlotte's Friday activities.

April 4-11, 2014
Great American Pony Drives to Norman, Oklahoma
Dearborn: Departs April 8
Jacksonville: Departs April 4
Richmond: Departs April 7
Boston: Departs April 6
Los Angeles: Departs April 4
Sacramento: Departs April 5
Seattle: Departs April 6
Visit www.ponydrive.us for complete schedules, routes, and activities.

April 10-16, 2014
Mustangs Across America 50th Drive
Departs April 10 from Los Angeles for a week-long cruise to Charlotte. Visit www.mustangsacrossamerica.com for route and schedule.

April 11-13, 2014
Official 50th Anniversary Kick-Off Party hosted by the Mustang Club of America at the National Center for Employee Development (NCED) Conference Center and Hotel in Norman, Oklahoma. Track event at the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department Training Facility, Friday evening Meet and Greet, and Saturday night banquet with speakers.

April 13-16, 2014
50th Anniversary Pony Drives from Norman, Oklahoma, to Charlotte and Las Vegas. Participants can also join along the way (eastbound overnight stops in Little Rock, Nashville, and Asheville; westbound stops in Amarillo, Albuquerque, and Flagstaff). For a route map, registration, and hotel information, visit www.mustang50thbirthdaycelebration.com.

April 16-20
Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration events at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Shows, open tracks, Hospitality Villages, special activities and displays, swap meet, manufacturer midway.

April 16: Pony Drive arrivals, vendor set-up, Welcome Party (7:00 PM)

April 17: Opening Ceremonies (11:00 AM), evening dinner (Charlotte)

April 18-19: Open track, drag racing, seminars, Mustang 50th Golf Scramble (Charlotte), Half Marathon (Las Vegas), evening cruise (Friday, Charlotte), evening banquet (Saturday)

April 20: Easter Sunrise services, on-track photo ops, closing ceremonies (2:00 PM)