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The Saleen S7 Was a Landmark American Supercar That Deserves More Love

Americans can't build supercars. Or at least that's what Europeans on auto-related forums and sub-Reddits used to say. Whether out of smug superiority or ignorance, a handful of American high-performance vehicles are proof positive this notion is total nonsense.
Saleen S7 31 photos
2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo2004 Saleen S72004 Saleen S72004 Saleen S72004 Saleen S7Saleen S7 Le Mans EditionSaleen S7 Le Mans EditionSaleen S7 Le Mans Edition2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1.3 million
Granted, the Germans, Brits, and Italians turn mass-producing performance vehicles we'd all pass as supercars into an art forum. But in North America, it's a much smaller and more passionate cottage industry. An industry that was given the spotlight like never before, thanks to one car, the Saleen S7. Even in the age of the Corvette C8 Z06 and the Ford GT, the S7 is a car that stands out for its boldness and lack of thought for what the rest of the world thinks.

The S7 is the brainchild of an American businessman and former racing driver named Steve Saleen. A man whose nationality may not immediately indicate his chosen career path. Many men in Saleen's shoes in the states chose the path of the oval track and restrictor plates in stock car racing. Instead, Saleen forged his career in the crucible of endurance circuit racing.

2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo
At famous race tracks like Sebring and Le Mans and with celebrity co-racers like Tim Allen of all people, Steve Saleen learned the ins and outs of racecar engineering and design. It would suit him well in his side hustle of supercharging the living daylights out of Mustangs.

Hitting the world scene back in 1999 for the 2000 model year, the Saleen's S7 ticked all the supercar boxes. It all starts with the engine. It's a Ford unit that many muscle cars should be intimately familiar with. Hailing from the Windsor line of V8s that powered everything from the Thunderbird to the Mustang and even F-Series trucks, this 427-cubic inch (seven-liter) monster jetted 550 horsepower in its original form. You better believe it wouldn't stay this powerful for long. Both varients were paired with a six-speed manual transmission.

Featuring an entirely carbon fiber body and lightweight chassis using the same grade of steel used in M4 Carbine Assault Rifles, there was no expense spared anywhere underneath the S7. This includes the use of aluminum composite-alloy honeycomb reinforcing panels connecting the bodyshell to the chassis. The suspension was an independent multi-link setup with coilovers in the front with Brembo slotted six-piston brake calipers at all four corners.

2007 Saleen S7 in LM spec is coming up for auction, could fetch $1\.3 million
Because no bonkers hypercar is complete without some forced induction, later model twin-turbocharged versions of the S7 were built from 2005 to 2009. With twin spinney-boys in tow, the upgraded S7 TT jetted a very healthy 750 horsepower. Granted, the Mopar Hellcat and GM LT V8s have made such power figures routine in 2017, years later. But back in the mid-2000s, that was rocket ship performance.

Keep in mind that in 2005, the Bugatti Veyron had yet to set the world on fire with its 253-mile-per-hour (407 kph) test runs for the record books. Without the Veyron to steal its thunder, performance figures like a zero to 60 time of 2.8 seconds and an estimated top speed of 248 miles per hour (399 kph), the S7 TT could have laid claim to the title of the fastest car in the world had the company had access to high-speed test tracks industry giants take for granted.

Only around 100 examples of the S7 were built between 1999 and 2009. Today, both the naturally aspirated and twin-turbocharged examples routinely crack the $500,000 barrier, with rarer paint colors fetching far more. Even so, the only thing likely keeping the S7 from being more valuable is perennially being in the shadow of the slightly faster Veyron. What a pity, and what a shame.

Check back soon for more classic supercar profiles here on autoevolution.

 
 
 
 
 

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