Ford’s storied Mustang has always been great at representing all things to all people. From six cylinder ‘secretary specials’ to fire-breathing Shelby Cobras, enthusiasts have always been able to build pretty much any platform they desire via factory order forms and aftermarket phone numbers. That said; the most impressive Mustangs are typically those prepared by firms that have an OEM level of expertise, but aren’t hamstrung by OEM regulations. And 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.
Bathed in custom Beryllium Copper two-stage, this awesome S281 has every trick Saleen knew built right into its sleek, ‘retro futuristic’ body. Originally delivered to Steve Saleen himself, in late 2005, this awesome blue oval bombshell has been pampered since new and, based on its slick appearance, is a product of very limited road time. The car’s fit and finish is exceptional, thanks to the largely hand-built nature of its custom add-ons. Its paint is simply amazing, thanks to major improvements in Saleen’s spraying process. And naturally, that paint covers a solid body that’s never been subjected to any major metalwork.
Combining clean factory sheetmetal with a functional aero kit, this awesome Ford rarity is ready to parade the midway and willing to tackle the track. At the front of its body, an injection-molded valence hangs a silver “01” below a custom, “SALEEN” branded grille, round marker lamps and traditional, black-bucket headlights. Behind those lights, a Saleen Super-Flo hood, which mixes added clearance with functional heat extractors, leads the eye to a short antenna, black mirrors and a “SALEEN” branded greenhouse. At the sides of that greenhouse, aggressive Saleen rockers and Shelby-style window louvers frame subtle “S281 SUPERCHARGED” emblems, bright “SkyVu” emblems and a “SALEEN” branded fuel filler. And at behind that filler, a large Saleen spoiler, custom fender extensions and a custom trunk extension frame a textured valence, an aggressive, “SALEEN” branded bumper and centered stainless exhaust tips.
Not surprisingly, this coupe looks great. But its biggest selling point is the 24-valve, single overhead cam ‘mod motor’ that rumbles under its lightweight hood. Stout, solid and highly adaptable, this 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! Visually, the storied mill’s bay comes together just as well as the outside of the car. Saleen’s install is exceptionally clean, forgoing the ‘plastic dome of doom’ engine cover trend in favor of a Saleen-branded centerpiece, clean fuel rails and a small Saleen plaque. The hot mill is a melting pot of machined and natural finishes that contrast well against the car’s bright orange paint. And best of all, this muscle-bound brute will fire up in any weather, drive thousands of miles before anyone needs to turn its bolts, and certainly lay waste to almost any old school muscle car that’s brave enough to pick a fight.
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. Charred dinosaurs are expelled through a modified exhaust system that incorporates Saleen’s vacuum-actuated mufflers into big, 2.5-inch pipes. Braking is handled by a combination of OEM Ford calipers, 4-piston Saleen calipers and vented and slotted rotors. Ample grip is supplied by familiar Saleen blades that spin meaty 275/35ZR20 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx radials. And overall, this coupe is an absolute delight to drive!
Slide inside this low-slung Ford 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. Below that dash, Shaker 500 audio combines with factory climate control to become a one-stop shop for all your convenience needs. Beneath that system, a wide console anchors a billet Saleen shifter in front of ample storage space. Beneath that console, like-new carpet floats color-keyed Saleen floor mats between attractive Saleen sills. Above those sills, sculpted door panels hang full-length armrests between small metal handles and big kick speakers. And naturally, all the luxuries you’d expect in a high dollar muscle car are present and accounted for including: cruise control, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, a power driver’s seat, and remote keyless entry that’s complete with built in theft deterrent software. It’s always hard to describe a car that’s essentially new in every way. So I’ll just sum this Mustang up by saying that everything, from its ice cold air conditioning to its Saleen-branded steering wheel, is in impeccable working order.
The sale of this blazing pony car includes a Saleen owner’s manual and a box of Saleen marketing materials.
There’s no question this Ford mixes instant collectability with serious performance credentials. Think about it, you’re buying an exclusive copy of an already exclusive sports car. And best of all, it''s essentially brand new technology that’s equipped with a roster of well-engineered components. Authenticity and pedigree are what turns today’s modern muscle into tomorrow’s blue chip collectables. Don’t miss your chance to own one of the coolest Mustangs ever built!