After leaving the performance car company he founded years ago, Steve Saleen is back at the helm of Saleen, the company that bears his name, and became known in the 80s, 90s, and early part of this century for building some of the baddest Mustangs on the road and track. Saleen says that while he was back at the helm for a few years, he was waiting for the S550 Mustang to debut so that his company could do something big.
We’ve seen the Saleen White and Yellow Label Mustangs making their way out over the past few months. While these cars offer a lot of improvements, they weren’t the big sweeping changes in style and performance that we loved from the Saleen of decades past. Last night, during a special press event, Steve Saleen pulled the wraps off the all new Saleen Black Label, a car we’ve been hearing rumors about for almost a year.
This is more than just a rebadged and prettied up Mustang, the black label represents the culmination of Saleen’s 30-plus years of Mustang building and racing experience. Nearly every aspect of this car, save for the roof, has been changed or touched in some way. “This car uses the latest in high downforce technology with minimum drag” says Saleen. The hood has been lowered nearly three inches “It’s clearance to the supercharger is in millimeters, this really helped reduce the drag on the car”. The hood, which featured a functional scoop for air intake, will be available in composite and stamped aluminum.
Up front there’s an all new splitter, front bumper and grille. Down the sides, new sweeping side skirts, flow into an all new rear diffuser. Inside the car, the seats have been reworked with updated bolstering, and new leather from Katzkin. There’s a new shift knob, and many small details throughout the car to set it off.
Of course, what all you die-hard fans are really wondering about is the performance of this car. In true Saleen fashion, the suspension has received several updates, including a urethane bushing package to reduce deflection, and Saleen exclusive springs and struts. Braking comes from 6-piston calipers up front with slotted and drilled rotors. The rear brakes wear a single piston caliper, but a 6-piston upgrade will be optional.
The car at the press event was wearing cast 20-inch wheels. Measuring 9.5-inches in the front, and 10.5 inches rear, shod in Pirelli 275 series rubber. Saleen’s Sven Etzelsberger says that they’re working on the backspacing to go to a 305 series tire in the rear, “With the amount of power we’re making a 305 tire is needed” he says. Etzelsberger also mentioned to us that Saleen will have an optional 22-inch monoblock wheel available as an option on the Black Label.
Under the hood is where the rest of the magic is happening on this one. Steve Saleen made the claim during the press conference, “This is the most powerful production Mustang you can buy” and it appears he’s not lying. Under the hood the Coyote 5.0 is breathed upon by a Kenne Bell 2.8-liter twin screw supercharger. Etzelsberger says the blower is pushing 14 psi of boost into the Coyote’s cylinders, and making 730 hp on 91 octane, 750 hp if you can get your hands on 93 octane or better. He also says that’s good for rear wheel horsepower numbers in the 630-640 range.
We asked Steve Saleen how he thought the new Black Label would stack up with the upcoming RS3 from Roush and the new Shelby American Shelby GT, his response was, “It wouldn’t be any contest, I will say that. There’s no contest whatsoever. Another thing I will say is that the base price on this car is $73,000, you can’t find a better buy than that.” That’s a fairly bold statement considering the final power numbers and price for the RS3 has yet to be released. It also sounds to us like it’s time to arrange a three-way shootout between these Mustang heavyweights.
We asked Etzelsberger about running this much boost and horsepower on the stock Coyote engine. “The stock engine is a really strong engine. We’ve not had any problems with it. When we increase the power level to over 750 we will think about changing the internals, but at this point we’re very confident with it.”
Based on the that response by Etzelsberger, possibly alluding to a more powerful Mustang in the works, we had to follow up with Steve Saleen. “We’re always looking for the next big thing. We made 1,000 hp with the S7, so a more powerful Mustang is not out of the question.”
Saleen asserted that at the $73,000 the Saleen Black Label is the best Mustang out there for the money. The car is currently in production, and it looks like Saleen could be back to the booming business he enjoyed during the late 1990s and first decade of this century. We’ll see how things shake out with competition coming from Shelby and Roush, Saleen definitely has his work cut out for him.
We’re looking forward to driving the full Saleen lineup in the near future, and can’t wait to put their latest Super Stang to the test.