Look Back: '90-'93 Saleen SC
A high-horsepower, superb-handling, one-year-only, utlra-rare convertible.
Steve Saleen was especially proud of the Monroe shock absorber system, which used rotating internal valves that were electronically adjustable from the cockpit to shift from soft to firm.
Carrying his supercar concept into the design of the SSC's interior, Saleen worked with designer Scott McDonald to create a "rear sound enclosure." This unique Saleen speaker rack turned the SSC into a two-seater, while retaining an area that could accommodate soft luggage.
The completed car debuted at Saleen's open house in conjunction with the American Pony Drive on April 17. The SSC's $36,500 price tag-the regular Saleen hatchback retailed for $23,500-and the late start in the model year may have prevented sales from reaching the 250 mark. By the time Saleen stopped production of its emissions-certified supercar, 161 had been built. The only published exception to the SSC equipment list occurred on 89-0159. The car was built for DP wheel distributor Automechanica with the Mustang backseat in place and included a two-point interior chassis brace.
For 1990, Saleen made slight revisions to the base model's Racecraft suspension, substituting variable-rate front and rear coil springs for the older specific-rate units. The rest of the system included Monroe Formula GP gas shocks, special strut mounting bearings, urethane sway-bar pivot bushings, and performance alignment specs. The aerodynamic body package was improved by a redesigned "split" front air dam, a two-piece rear wing, and bolt-on subframe connectors.
Since the SSC had been a one-year-only special edition, Saleen introduced a new SC to make use of the modified 5.0L. The new supercar received all standard Saleen equipment-aerodynamic body components, a sporty interior, Racecraft suspension, and so on-and the centerpiece V-8 benefited from new Saleen-cast upper and lower intake manifolds and stainless steel headers for a boost to 304 hp. Complementing the SC-only engine included Borg-Warner's heavy-duty T5 five-speed, stock 3.55:1 rear axle gears in an Auburn-built cone clutch, white or silver 16x8-inch DP five-spoke alloy wheels, P225/50ZR16 (front) and P245/50ZR16 (rear) General XP2000Z tires, a three-core radiator, Walker DynoMax mufflers, Champion sparkplugs and wires, a heavy-duty battery, a 200-mph speedometer, and Saleen SC Edition FloFit Sport Seats.
The $33,990 SC-available only as Black, White, or Bright Red hatchbacks-received the same chassis reinforcements as the basic Saleen Mustang, but the unique intake manifold required a different strut tower brace for clearance. Further setting them apart from their stablemates, the SC body molding was painted to match the rest of the exterior, and two short diagonal stripes at the rear of the front fender and small "SC" lettering on the body molding ahead of the rear tire suggested supercar status.
Although the SC came standard with a Pioneer radio/cassette player with six speakers handling 80 watts over four channels, Saleen didn't burden it with the '89 SSC's heavy speaker enclosure. The SC also dropped the three-way cockpit adjustable suspension system from its standard equipment list, but the electronic Monroes could be purchased for an extra charge. A rollbar was available to SC buyers for an additional $600.
In the middle of the production year, slow sales of all Saleen Mustangs forced the company to subcontract its conversion work to an outside firm. A Cars & Concepts facility in St. Louis began building standard Saleens in August 1990, while Saleen Performance Parts-a spinoff of Saleen Autosport located in Southern California-was responsible for assembling SCs. Saleen closed out the year selling 243 standard models and 13 SCs.