This Saleen Collection Is More Than Just Mustangs


Steve Saleen has achieved some big things in his decades-long involvement in the automotive world, not the least of which include the creation of the S7 supercar. But if the California manufacturer is best known for anything, it’s for building souped-up Mustangs. Saleen founded Saleen Autosport in 1983 and built a handful of Mustangs in 1984, leaving the 5.0 engine alone but adding stiffer springs, alloy wheels, and stickier tires to transform the lumbering Fox-body into a proper corner carver. Saleen quickly reached an agreement with Ford to put Saleen Mustangs on the showroom floor at Ford dealerships, and they even came with a Ford factory warranty. Given their racy specs and relatively low production, it’s not a big stretch to look at them as the Shelbys of the ’80s.

Saleen didn’t just work its magic on the Mustang, though. There were also Saleen hot hatches and trucks, both of which are included in the all-Saleen collection that is up for auction at Mecum Indianapolis this month, and outlined below.

1986 Ford Mustang Saleen

mecum indy 2024 ford saleen mustang 1986

In 1986, Saleen took its Mustangs to the track in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) racing. One highlight was victory at the 24 Hours of Mosport, a race that Saleen Mustangs won three times on the gallop from 1986-88. This 1986 example, then, is a rather early car, and a relatively rare four-headlight Saleen (Mustangs went to larger single rectangular headlights for 1987). The body kit and graphics give it away as not your average Fox-body, while underneath it is fitted with a BBK intake and Racecraft suspension. It also features Saleen SC alloy wheels. For Indy, it carries a presale estimate of $45,000–$55,000, roughly the model’s #3+ value in the Hagerty Price Guide.

2005 Ford Focus Saleen S121

mecum indy 2024 ford saleen focus hatchback

This Egg Yolk Yellow hatchback started as a normal Ford Focus, but Saleen scrambled its relatively humble specs for more serious street cred. The finished product was a little over easy, though, as Saleen only tuned the 2.0-liter Duratec in this model (the S121) to 150hp, while other upgrades included Racecraft suspension, front strut tower brace, and Saleen six-spoke alloy wheels. The body kit, while not fitted to a Mustang, still has all of Saleen’s mid-2000s styling cues.

A higher-tier Saleen Focus, called the N20, was factory-prepped to take nitrous oxide, but this one still looks like plenty of fun. Although it sold in Scottsdale seven years ago for just $9350 and at Auburn Fall in 2018 for just $10,360, its estimate at Indy 2024 is $20,000–$30,000.

1989 Ford Mustang Saleen SSC

mecum indy 1989 saleen mustang hatchback ford

In 1989, Saleen was finally able to combine his effective handling improvements to the Fox-body Mustang with a much more potent engine. A larger throttle body, improved intake, new exhaust with high-flow cats, and other improvements brought power from 225 hp in the base car to 290 in the new model Saleen dubbed “SSC.” Body kit, decals, seats and wheels distinguished it visually, while handling upgrades included Racecraft suspension, and cockpit-adjustable shocks and struts. All these tweaks added up to a sticker price over $36,000 (nearly $90K adjusted for inflation) for the SSC, so it’s not surprising that only a few people bought one. Production totaled just 161 examples, very small batch stuff by Mustang standards.

This 905-mile SSC appears to be the cleanest Saleen of the collection, and it’s certainly the most valuable. Its presale estimate is $150,000–$175,000, while the #1 (“best-in-the-world) value in the Hagerty Price Guide sits at $176,000.

1997 Ford Explorer Saleen XP8

Mecum indy saleen ford explorer

The “S” in SUV may stand for Sport, but performance isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when we think about Ford’s first four-door SUV. That didn’t stop Saleen from turning their attention to it with a model they called the XP8.

In turning this family hauler into an ass hauler, Saleen lowered the Explorer by about two inches, swapped in Racecraft suspension, and fitted 18-inch 5-spoke magnesium wheels. XP8s were available in two-wheel or all-wheel drive, and a supercharger was optional. Total XP8 production isn’t clear, but some sources claim 125 were built.

This all-wheel drive, supercharged example was reportedly used when new as a personal vehicle for Liz Saleen, Steve’s wife and Saleen Autosport’s PR representative. It has since racked up nearly 78,000 miles, and its presale estimate for Indy is $35,000–$50,000.

1988 Ford Ranger Saleen Sportruck

mecum indy ford saleen ranger pickup

The Ranger might seem like an even more unlikely vehicle to get the Saleen treatment than the Explorer, but Saleen was modifying Ford’s compact pickup as early as 1987. That year, Saleen entered the SCCA Coors Race Truck Challenge with his ‘roided up Rangers, and notched two wins before introducing the Ranger-based Saleen Sportruck in 1988. In 1991, Saleen won the SCCA Race Truck title with five wins in six races.

Just 27 were built, including three race trucks, with a 2.9-liter V-6 and five-speed manual. The usual Saleen upgrades of Racecraft suspension, body kit, special wheels, and sport bucket seats were included. Reportedly, all the Saleen Rangers were white except for this Regatta Blue one. It is also represented with one owner from new and as the lowest-mile Saleen Ranger known to exist, with 1678 miles showing on the odometer. The window sticker and original temp tag are still on it. The last one of these ultra-rare Rangers to sell at auction that we could find was in Scottsdale way back in 2009, for just $6050. This one, though, is in much better shape and selling in a much different time. Its presale estimate is $75,000–$90,000, which surely makes it the world’s most expensive Ford Ranger.


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    The fox body Mustang’s are their best work but the Explorer lokks pretty good too. I remember one at a dealer in Chicagoland once.

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