Saleen, Incorporated, is an American manufacturer of high performance sports cars and high performance automotive part. Commonly referred to as simply Saleen, the company is based in Irvine, California. Saleen, Incorporated is a Delaware corporation owned by Hancock Park Associates.
Saleen Autosport was founded by Steve Saleen, a former Formula Atlantic race car driver, in 1983. During the following year, the company name was changed to Saleen Performance, Incorporated and Saleen constructed three cars during the first production run. The cars were a black hatchback, a white hatchback, and a copper glow hatchback.
During the 1980s, Saleen managed to produce a new record volume of cars each year and by 1990 Saleen contracted St. Louis based Car & Concepts to make the Saleen Mustang. Unfortunately, the recession of the early 1990’s made it difficult to sell high performance sports cars and Cars & Concepts encountered financial problems that forced them to close their facility. They did however produce Saleen Mustangs through the 1991 model year. Since Cars & Concepts was no longer a possibility, production returned to Saleen Performance, Incorporated in 1992 and the production of cars was decreased down to no more than 12 for the 1992 model year.
In 1993, Tim Allen began promoting the Saleen Mustang and the company also received financial backing from Hidden Creek Industries. Tim Allen and Steve Saleen became a successful team and by 1995, the Saleen-Allen Racing began preparations for the development of a ground-up vehicle. They implemented a 7.0L V8 engine in all their track cars and this ultimately led to the powerplant utilized in the S7.
In 1997, the Mustang car returned to the 24 Hours of le Mans after a 30 year long pause and it was naturally a Saleen Mustang. Combined with new financial backing and the new ‘94 body style, the increased media attention led to augmented production numbers for Saleen. At the end of 2004, major shifts began to take place in the corporate structure of Saleen, Incorporated, and the typical race-team style hierarchy was replaced by new structure. Saleen also created its first retail store; it is located at the Irvine Spectrum in California and was opened at the end of July 2006.
Daniel Reiner became Chairman and CEO of Saleen in early 2007, and in May that same year Steve Saleen (Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors) and Billy Tally (the Chief Officer of Technology) both resigned from Saleen. Steve Saleen has been there since the beginning, while Billy Tally had been with the company for 9 consecutive years. Within a month, domestic programs manager John Spruill also resigned.
Saleen, Incorporated manufactures limited edition, high-performance vehicles and is the last American small car manufacturer with OEM status. (OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufactorer). This means that Saleen has to adhere to the same federal regulations for design and testing as larger vehicle manufacturers.
Saleen vehicles are normally much altered versions of mass produced sports cars, such as the popular Ford Mustang. Today, Saleen produces altered versions of a lot of different Ford models. One of the most famous Saleen cars is the Saleen S7, which was launched in 2000. The Saleen S7 car is a mid-engine, high-performance supercar that promptly went out and won no less than four different GT championships in 2001 and broke several records at the 24-Hour Le Mans race. The Saleen S7 is the first Saleen production car ever not to be based on an existing design. When released, the price tag was set just under US$ 400,000.