Like Carroll Shelby, Steve Saleen was a racing driver before he became a manufacturer of Ford-based performance cars. Formed at Steve Saleen’s dinner table in 1983 with sketched ideas on napkins, the first three Saleen Mustangs were hand-built by Saleen Autosport in a tiny garage in Petaluma, California, the following year.
In 1985, the first official year of production, Saleen hammered out 140 examples, all wearing the hallmarks of a fledgling manufacturer learning the ropes. It is this uniqueness that makes these first production Saleens something special, not to mention they led the way for the next 36 years of Saleen automobiles.
Never underestimate kitchen tables and napkin sketches, folks.
[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared as part of the 25 Greatest Mustangs cover story in the July/August issue of Hagerty Drivers Club magazine. You can find the other entries here.]