The Saleen S1 Is a True Driver's Car
The tuner-turned-carmaker's latest vision is a mid-engine sports car with 450 horsepower and tons of feel.
BY MATT FARAH
JAN 13, 2020
Steve Saleen and his small team of dedicated racers face an uphill battle. You see, relatively speaking, building a supercar like the the S7 is easy, because you donít have to build or sell very many of them. As such, youíre able to make all kinds of compromises in service of performance; nobody expects Porsche-level build quality from a homologated, class-winning FIA GT car.
That's not to demean the S7. In fact, all 100 built for street use were sold. But Iíve actually driven a Saleen S7, and, to put it kindly, it is not a vehicle fit for mass consumption. Itís not even really fit forÖ humans? It made me happy to learn that two of the 100 S7s live at the Thermal Club, a private race track outside Palm Springs, where the cars can stretch their legs under the heels of (hopefully) very small, flexible owners.
CONTINUE AT LINK ABOVEWe stood by a small fleet of new S1 Cup and GT4 race cars, while Steve Saleen told us the teamís modest ethos. To paraphrase, they want to build a lightweight, agile and very fast Saleen-branded sports car out of aluminum and carbon fiber. They want the street version of the car to weigh under 3000 lbs at the curb, and make 450 horsepower from a turbocharged four-cylinder, with either a six-speed manual or optional dual-clutch transmission. Lofty goals, but a righteous pursuit. Thatís directly into the wheelhouse of the Porsche Cayman GT4 and Lotus Evora GT, two of our favorite cars, no qualifiers needed.
Plus, the C8 Corvette has entered the mix. Thankfully, the S1 isn't some $3.7-million collection centerpiece that claims 5000 hp, but whoops actually doesnít have a cooling system, and is actually coachwork resting on a Funny Car. When youíre marketing a car and expecting folks to come out of Porsche and Lotus and into your product, it needs to be very, very good.
Images courtesy of, and credited to, roadandtrack.com