2005 Ford Saleen Mustang S281S SkyVu
For almost 30 years, Steve Saleen and his team of octane-fueled engineers have produced some of the hottest creations the late model market has ever seen. Saleen is quick to point out that they are a full-blown manufacturer, as opposed to a mere tuner, and as a result their cars possess a level of polish most aftermarket entities can’t attain. And that innovative, all-encompassing mindset often begets creations like this custom S281 SkyVu. Fitted to this coupe in early 2008, and mirrored by Ford’s Glass Roof option in early 2009, Saleen’s SkyVu allowed customers to maximize their driving experience without downgrading to a heavier, less-rigid convertible. However, despite this Mustang drumming up major interest on the show circuit, Saleen fell on tough times, and SkyVu was eventually chalked up to designer American Specialty Cars’ engineering archives. If you think the name American Specialty Cars sounds familiar, it’s for good reason. Founded in 1965 as American Sunroof Company, ASC is one of the world’s premier builders of concept and open-air vehicles. And, in addition to being heavily involved in OEM development, they’re directly responsible for projects like Chevrolet’s awesome SSR, BMW’s zippy Z4 and Toyota’s Camry Solara convertible. Undoubtedly, this Beryllium Copper Ford’s biggest selling point is the 24-valve, single overhead cam ‘mod motor’ that rumbles under its lightweight hood. Stout, solid and highly adaptable, the award-winning V8 was Ford’s go-to powerplant for everything from Mustangs and Explorers to F-150s and Mountaineers. And, thanks to the addition of Saleen’s Series VI supercharger, it twists a solid 465 horsepower into 425 lb./ft. of tire melting torque! The greatest advancement granted by the current Mustang platform is its ability to corner and handle like a true thoroughbred. Ford’s standard Macpherson Strut and Panhard Rod set up offers some of the purest handling found in any OEM street car. And, in keeping with their own race ancestry, Saleen’s Racecraft engineers carefully chose springs, shocks, and struts that augment that already impressive chassis without sacrificing ride quality. Behind the car’s supercharged engine, a rugged Tremec 5-speed drives factory 3.55 gears that mix spectacular wheel spin with great acceleration. Braking is handled by a combination of OEM Ford calipers, 4-piston Saleen calipers and vented and slotted rotors. And ample grip is supplied by familiar Saleen blades that spin meaty 275/35ZR20 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx radials. Slide inside this low-slung coupe and you’ll immediately notice that its stitched and louvered seats are every bit as comfortable as they are attractive. In front of those “SALEEN” branded buckets, a familiar Mustang dash hangs Ford MyColor telemetry behind Saleen ancillary gauges, a small Saleen plaque, and a Steve Saleen-autographed glove box. Everything, from the car’s ice cold air conditioning to its Saleen-branded steering wheel, is in impeccable working order. And naturally, all the luxuries you’d expect in a high dollar muscle car are present and accounted for. There’s no question this stunning S281 mixes instant collectability with serious performance credentials.
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