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2005 Saleen Mustang S281 SC

Compared to the tuning programs Saleen has been developing for the past two decades, their S281 Mustang is the most radical. Having a custom suspension, longer wheelbase and patented supercharger, Saleen calls it ‘all-new’.

Supercharged Engine

Saleen has been supercharging since the mid 1980’s and introduced a supercharged version of the S281 in 1999. Once word got around about its performance capabilities, the S281 SC quickly displaced its normally aspirated S281 counterpart as Top Gun on the Saleen sales charts.

The supercharger used in the 2005 S281 SC is an all-new innovative design, which Saleen has several patents for. Called the Saleen Series VI integrated TwinScrew supercharger, 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 blower assembly contains twin screws, which push 2300 cc of air per rotation versus 1600 cc for last year’s supercharger. As a result, the supercharger turns slower for equivalent boost, producing lower stress and lower air charger temperatures. The higher efficiency allows for an intercooler that is smaller, lighter and more compact and which has virtually zero pressure drop from inlet-to-outlet side.

Integrated Features:

-bypass for low-speed running helps reduce heat buildup in the engine. -long, beefy downdraft runners with minimal bends (50 percent increase in flow compared to last year’s supercharger) -maintenance-friendly with only one sealing surface -second cooler located in the airdam below the engine

The overall efficiency gains – in the engine, the supercharger and the intercooler – mean the new supercharged V8 produces more horsepower and torque at a less stressful 6-7 psi boost than last year’s supercharged engine at 7-8 psi. The S281 SC cranks out a neck-snapping 400 horsepower, 25 more than last year’s S281 SC, and 420 lb-ft torque, 5 more lb-ft than in 2004. The 400 bhp figure matches that of the 2005 C6 Corvette.


The exhaust system is an innovative variable design, featuring twin mufflers with vacuum-actuated 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 offers numerous advantages. It allows the engine to be calibrated to produce higher torque. Secondly, it provides a free-flowing exhaust system, while still providing the capability for passing mandated pass-by noise regulations in the U.S., Canada, and U.K. Thirdly, it makes for some lovely exhaust sounds at wide-open throttle. The exhaust side of the engine also features a full 2.5 inch stainless steel exhaust system, running from the exhaust manifold outlet to the tip of the exhaust pipes.

Suspension & Handling

Saleen developed special springs, shocks, and anti-roll bars to control body roll and to provide crisp cornering. Bushings made from high durometer rubber are used to achieve the direct steering response for which Saleen sports cars are noted.

Because of its all-aluminum design, the new engine weighs 75 pounds less than last year’s V8, which, along with the increased wheelbase, reduces weight on the nose. This reduction helps balance the car, giving it a 53/47 percent ratio across the front to rear wheels.

Wheels & Tires

Saleen-designed 20-inch alloy wheels are standard on all three S281 models. Up front, the wheels are 9 inches wide, and the rears are 9 inches as well. All S281’s are equipped with high-performance radials. Sizes are 275/35ZR20 all around. Optional are ultra-high performance Pirelli P-Zero Rossos, 275/35ZR20s up front with 275/40ZR20s fitted to the 10-inch wide rear wheels.

Exterior Design

Modified from front to rear, the S281’s styling cues capture attention. A long hood and short rear deck emphasize the Saleen muscle under the bonnet and its traditional rear-wheel drive setup. New alloy wheels are big, wide, and clothed in equally aggressive rubber that fills the wheel wells.

The viewer should also notice a family resemblance with the Saleen S7 supercar. Features such as the lower front grille opening, the hood vents, the rocker panel side skirting, the rear spoiler and the rear diffuser are motivated by beautful form and functional areodynamics. The super charged S281 SC gets a distinct hood, rear wing and quarter window.

Up front are integrated turn signals along with available High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights. Featuring unique Saleen-designed headlamp assemblies incorporating the industry’s first bi-functional Xenon/HID lamp, these lights use moveable light shield technology to achieve both high and low beam functions in a single reflector with only one HID light source. They provide 40 percent more light in both low and high beam functions than conventional lamps.

‘At Saleen we have our own design language,’ explained Steve Saleen. ‘The new S281 is clean, distinctive, and aggressive. It’s retro, yet contemporary. And it’s got great proportions. But I’m equally proud of the subtlety, refinement, and sophistication of the overall design,’ Saleen continued.

Interior Design

A performance-focused driving environment is as much a part of a Saleen automobile as its engine or suspension. The 6-inch gain in wheelbase gave Saleen the ability to maximize the comfort and ergonomics of the new S281 Mustang. Six inches might not seem like a lot when compared to the S281’s overall length, but it makes a large difference when behind the wheel. Taller drivers will feel more at home with more head room and shoulder room. Rear passengers also enjoy more leg room and shoulder room in their sculpted bucket seats.

The S281’s creates a comfortable driving position. It starts with Saleen leather seats, featuring louvered head restraints and side bolstering for greater support, and continues with power seat controls relocated to a more intuitive position on the outboard side of the seat. Add a three-spoke steering wheel offering rake adjustment, Saleen high-grip, racing-inspired brake and throttle pedals ideally positioned for easy heel-and-toe downshifting and a Saleen, short-throw shifter lever that truly falls right to hand, and you’ve got the makings of a world-class driving environment.

Naturally, 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. The S281 SC model also features a Saleen twin gauge pod with readouts for boost and air temperature.

In Detail

submitted by Richard Owen
price $ $47 249 USD
engine Aluminum V8
position Front Longitudinal
aspiration Saleen Series VI integrated TwinScrew Supercharger
valvetrain DOHC, 3 Valves per Cyl w/Varibale Camshaft Timing
fuel feed Electronic, Returnless & Sequential Ignition
displacement 4606 cc / 281.1 in³
bore 90.2 mm / 3.55 in
stroke 90.0 mm / 3.54 in
compression 9.8:1
power 298.3 kw / 400 bhp @ 5800 rpm
specific output 86.84 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 248.45 bhp per tonne
torque 569.44 nm / 420 ft lbs @ 4000 rpm
redline 6250
body / frame Unit Steel w/Aluminum Hood
driven wheels RWD
front tires 275/35ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero Rosso
rear tires 275/40ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero Rosso
front brakes Saleen Discs w/4-Piston Calipers
f brake size x 316 mm / x 12.4 in
rear brakes Saleen Discs w/4-Piston Calipers
r brake size x 300 mm / x 11.8 in
front wheels F 50.8 x 22.9 cm / 20.0 x 9 in
rear wheels R 50.8 x 25.4 cm / 20 x 10 in
steering Rack & Pinion w/Power Assist
f suspension MacPherson Struts w/Saleen Racecraft N2 Struts, Coil-Over-Spring Units, Stabalizer Bar
r suspension Live Axle w/Saleen Racecraft System, Springs, N2 Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar
curb weight 1610 kg / 3549 lbs
wheelbase 2720 mm / 107.1 in
front track 1623 mm / 63.9 in
rear track 1595 mm / 62.8 in
length 4803 mm / 189.1 in
width 1880 mm / 74 in
height 1422 mm / 56.0 in
transmission Saleen Quick Ratio 5-Speed
gear ratios 3.34:1, 2.00:1, 1.32:1, 1.00:1, .067:1, :1
final drive 3.55:1

Auction Sales History

2006 Saleen Mustang S281 SC Convertible – sold for $35,750

Redfire Red with dark charcoal leather interior. This limited Saleen S281 package with S281 supercharger has 435hp with 425ft/lbs of torque, 3.55:1 gear ratio, 2 1/2″ performance exhaust, equipped with Saleen twin gauge pod, boost and air temperature, 200mph Saleen speedometer, Racecraft suspension with Saleen front and rear springs, front and rear shocks, Saleen 20″ seven spoke alloy wheels, stopped by Saleen 14″ brake system. Saleen high density headlamps. Dual stage water to air intercooled system. For comfort its equipped with power windows, locks, deck lid, 6-way power driver seat, tilt, cruise control and navigation system. Super Shaker hood. 24,747 actual miles.

Auction Source: 2012 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction

2007 Saleen Mustang S281 SC Convertible – sold for $52,800

This is a rare 2007 Saleen S281 supercharged speedster. A special ordered Saleen 281, built with specific options, categorizing it in a class of its own, and stating its claim of a new muscle car era. This Saleen S281 is car number 555 produced for the model year. It has the Beryllium paint option and is equipped with a 281cid 4.6 Liter V8 engine culminated with a Saleen Series VI supercharger pounding out 465hp and 425ft/lb of torque. Other exciting options include the Saleen Speedster package, Saleen 7-spoke wheel and tire upgrade, Saleen high-density headlamps, Saleen 3.73 Maxigrip differential, and last but not least the Rockford-Fosgate Punch sound system. In addition to the factory installed options, this rare Saleen S281 is equipped with front and rear carbon fiber air diffusers that were special ordered from the California Saleen plant valued at $4,000. This Saleen is a 1,178 original mile car that has never seen rain and is garaged in a climate-controlled environment. Exciting accessories that compliment this collector quality Saleen S281 that remain plastic wrapped include all manuals, keys, air compressor, convertible boot and Saleen auto detail kit.

Auction Source: 2012 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction