Most experts today will hand the Shelby legacy to Steve Saleen, creator of wondrous vehicles such as this 1995 S351. With a close connection to Ford, which supplied Saleen with bodies in white among other things, and a detailed pedigree, not to mention the exclusivity, Saleen Mustangs will unquestionably become the Shelbys of their generation. The S351, such as the feature car here, is perhaps the most collectable of them all simply because of its radical deviation from the Ford hardware. All Saleens before and since have been based on production cars with production car drivelines, but the S351 used an engine and transmission combination not found on the Mustang's options list. The result is one heck of a fast pony with world-class handling and braking to match.
Showing just 5519 actual miles (yes, you read that correctly), this is one of the lowest mileage S351s in existence. Finished in Laser Red Metallic, it's a stunning piece of hardware even sitting still. The paint is factory fresh, with a fantastic glow that belies its mass-produced origins. Saleen's exclusive body kit which is functional in addition to being stylish, was custom painted to match and if there's any difference in the colors, it can't be seen with the naked eye. That's what you got when you ponied up for a $45,000 Mustang sixteen years ago. Saleen also included subtle graphics, such as the hash marks on the side and S351 insignias on the hood and rear deck, looking as if they were scrawled there by some prehistoric creature. Blacked-out tail lights and a large rear wing were also part of the package. And, of course, there's the Saleen exclusive build number below the driver's side headlight, with this one being #99 out of only 126 built in 1995, and one of only two in these colors.
In 1995, Ford was delivering GT Mustangs with a wheezing 4.6 liter SOHC V8 which was rated at 215 horsepower. There were more than a few folks who didn't consider it an improvement over the thumping 5.0 liter pushrod V8, including Steve Saleen himself. So instead of trying to make the 4.6 work, Saleen simply ordered cars without engines from Ford and had them drop-shipped to his Irvine, California factory where they were fitted with heavily massaged 351 cubic inch V8s based on the Ford Lightning sport truck's short block. Fortunately, this meant that all the goodies developed for the venerable 5.0 would bolt right on, although Saleen hardly left parts untouched in his ultimate Mustang supercar. The intake, for example, is a Ford Cobra casting, modified by Saleen to increase plenum volume to feed the larger V8—that explains those welds on the casting, which are 100% OEM Saleen. The result is a 371 horsepower engine that can smoke the rear tires at will, yet is almost as docile as a stock Mustang, thanks to Saleen's expert computer tuning.
The engine bay of number 99 remains factory stock, with no additional tweaks following Saleen's ministrations. The only noteworthy replacement component is a fresh Optima gel cell battery. Otherwise, Saleen-spec equipment remains, including the plug wires, conical air cleaner, and even the Saleen-specific tags and decals. Everything works as it should, it starts and idles properly, and pulls like no other production Mustang you've ever driven, with gobs of torque available on demand at any speed.
The other big upgrade was a Tremec TR3550 5-speed transmission, mandatory with the 351 since the Mustang's T5 couldn't handle the torque. As one of the sweetest shifting gearboxes ever designed, the Tremec is also robust enough to handle the power without getting fussy, and as a result it is the only transmission offered in the S351. Out back, this one also received the optional 3.27 gear in the solid rear axle, paired with a limited slip unit that tried to manage all that horsepower. Saleen's specialty has always been suspension upgrades, and the S351 got the full Racecraft treatment, with special springs, shocks, sway bars, and bushings to deliver markedly improved cornering without a bone-jarring ride. High-flow catalytic converters keep it emissions legal, as it had to be to be sold as a production car, and Saleen used their own exhaust system to give it a unique sound. The final detail was a set of gorgeous 5-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels wearing staggered 235/40/18 front and 245/40/18 rear performance radials.
The Mustang DNA is perhaps most apparent inside, where the majority of the components were sourced from Ford. Notable upgrades include the deeply bolstered sport seats, finished in grippy black cloth because these cars were designed to run on the track, and a set of Saleen-specific white-faced gauges (remember, these were the days before EVERYONE was doing white faced gauges). The seats also received Saleen embroidery on the seat backs, and the rear seats were upholstered to match, thanks to Saleen's extreme attention to detail. Fortunately, having the big systems engineered by Ford means that the climate control is powerful, the stereo sounds amazing, and things like power steering, power disc brakes with ABS, power windows, and other details work perfectly and reliably. Saleen also added their own embroidered floor mats, just in case you didn't notice all the other items telling you this is something special.
This low-mileage Saleen is also highly documented, including both the Ford and Saleen window stickers, the original order invoice, owner's manuals, warranty booklets, a letter from Saleen welcoming the new owner to the Saleen family, as well as promotional literature from Saleen. A very nice package for any investment-grade automobile.
Even 16 years after it was built, this S351 remains a potent machine on the road, and you can't argue with its pedigree. Beautifully preserved and expertly maintained, this is the kind of car you put away knowing that your investment is going to grow, especially since they remain relative bargains today. Limited production, exceptional performance, and a known history make any car a winner in terms of collectability, and Saleen practically guarantees all of that with their exclusive build system. If you've been a fan and have been looking for just the right car to call your own, allow us to introduce you to #99. Call today!
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