Five hundred horsepower. Four hundred eighty poundfeet of torque. Those are serious performance numbers. And we’e not talking Saleen S7 supercar or some other exotic. No, we’re talking 2005 Saleen S281 Extreme.
The S281 Extreme represents the pinnacle of the S281 lineup, which also includes the 325bhp S281 3-Valve and the 400bhp S281 Supercharged. Like these Mustangs, the Extreme starts life on the same great platform Ford has provided via the 2005 Mustang’s all new architecture. But the S281 E sets up residence in performance territory never explored by a production Ford Mustang.
This newest member of the Saleen S281 is manufactured with the latest in Saleen racebred technology. At the heart of the S281 E is a unique Saleenmanufactured, highrevving, 4.6liter powerplant built inhouse. The 281 cubicinch V8 uses a special forged steel Saleen crankshaft, Saleen forged steel connecting rods, Saleen patented forged aluminum pistons and unique Saleen aluminum cylinder heads featuring special valve springs and the latest Saleen performance camshafts. In addition to the increased rpm available with the E engine, a Saleen-designed Series VI integrated TwinScrew supercharger with twostage watertoair intercooling is installed. This supercharger is so innovative that Saleen has several patents pending on the design.
Essentially, the Saleen design integrates the previously separate intake manifold, blower housing/assembly and intercooler into one compact unit that nestles neatly into the valley between the heads. This allows for a much wider intake manifold.
The engine is also fitted with a Saleen freeflow air cleaner element. The exhaust system has a dynamic element, featuring twin mufflers with valves that open above a specified back pressure. When these valves open, a portion of the exhaust gases is routed through a second set of tail pipes pointed at the ground. This design allows the engine to be calibrated to produce higher torque. Secondly, it provides a freeflowing exhaust system, while still providing the capability for passing mandated passby noise regulations in the U.S., Canada and U.K. Thirdly, it makes for some lovely exhaust sounds at wideopen throttle.
The S281 E V8 is coupled to a Saleen heavyduty 6speed manual transmission and a highperformance flywheel/clutch disc assembly. Power is delivered to the rear wheels via a Saleen custom balanced driveshaft and a performance differential assembly featuring a Saleen MaxGrip, speedsensitive, limitedslip differential.
Big power numbers require big brakes. To handle 500 bhp and 480 lbft of torque, the E is fitted with 1piece, 14inch front brake rotors, the same size brakes used on the 200mph Ford GT.
Naturally, the E features a complete Saleen Racecraft suspension system including racing-inspired springs, shocks and antiroll bars. In addition, the E receives special Saleen boxed rear lower control arms and a Panhard rod specific to this model. The Panhard rod provides precise lateral control of the Eâs live rear axle, helping keep the tires flat on the road for greater cornering power and more precise handling.
Visually, the E is distinguished from the other two S281 models by a unique aero package, including a distinctive front splitter and a rear diffuser, plus a different rear quarter window treatment. Lighting the way are standard Saleen HID headlamps. The interior features a number of Saleen exclusives. A few of these include unique Saleen gauges with black backgrounds, white numbers and easy-to-read silver needles with black inserts, satin aluminum trim, painted accents, Saleen door sill plates and S281 floor mats. Each car also comes with an individualized Saleen VIN number stamped in the chassis, on a dash plaque and on the front bumper. S281 SC and S281 E models also feature a Saleen twin gauge pod with readouts for boost and air temperature.
Powered by a supercharged small block V8 producing 500 pavementshredding horsepower and capable of generating performance figures of around 4.5 sec from 060 mph and quartermile numbers of about 12.1 sec at 117 mph, comparisons with the 500bhp Corvette Z06 model that Chevrolet will introduce later this year are inevitable. The S281 E is scheduled for introduction in July of 2005, and the price will be announced at that time.