80s Epitomized: 1986 Ford Mustang Saleen

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

When you think of Saleen-modified Mustangs, please don’t consider the late-model products. Remember what Saleen was pushing out in the 1980s, because these were – in my eyes – the way Mustangs should look. This four-eyed example sports a rarely-this-nice front air dam and is correct right down to the Steve Saleen signature in the engine bay. Find it here on eBay with bidding over $10K and just about a day left.

Mileage is at 110K and the car presents far better than that. The seller acknowledges the only real deviation from stock inside is an aftermarket carpet that replaced the original. The rest of the interior looks just right, what with its cloth sport bucket seats, Momo steering wheel and classic Fox Body manual shifter. Interestingly, there were no engine mods in the 1986 Saleen – changes were limited to handling and aero improvements.

Nevertheless, the seller has still attempted to improve the performance of the stock 5.0 powerplant by adding headers and a Flowmaster exhaust. Don’t scoff at the lack of big horsepower increases, though – the improvements Saleen and his team made meant the Mustang was still considerably quicker and handled far better than stock 5.0s of the same era. The website Mr5Ohs does a nice job of explaining the changes.

With the awesome red-and-gold color combo, lower body flares and BBS-style gold-faced wheels – not to mention the impressive rear wing and desirable front air dam – this Saleen Mustang looks like a tremendous amount of fun for a not-huge outlay of cash. It’d get my money before anything made in the last 20 years for a Saleen product, but I’d need to add some plexiglass covers to the headlights to complete the look.

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  1. Adam T45

    I have always liked the look of the Fox Body Mustang. I just wish that we’d received them Down Under.

  2. Troy S.

    Looks much better than the stock ’86 GT. It would take more than shorty headers and flows to really get an ’86 to run like the ’87 and newer ‘stangs, but it is such a nice car I wouldn’t fool with it.

  3. Todd Zuercher

    Looks good but I prefer the later ones where he retrofitted FloFit buckets, 5 lug wheels with 4 wheel discs, and the Momo wheel with the cruise control buttons on it. Make mine blue and white.

    • Todd

      Do you mean like mine? 🙂

  4. James B.

    Better grab it ! Saw one at Auction . Brung in $86.000!! No joke . Remember the SVO.?? One went for 66.000!

  5. jwinters

    when I was in high school, there were 2 brothers that were the “rich kids”. Brian and Bobby. they were on the football team and dated cheerleaders and all that. They were the COOL kids.
    I was just a dork with no friends…
    they both got brand new cars for their 16th birthday. Brian chose one of these and the license plate read “IGETRAD”. his brother got a Camaro. they thought they were so cool racing around, until one day I finally got my 74 AMC javelin 401 running, and met them on the street and smoked them both. those were the days long live the underdog!

    • Steve

      I used to beat up 5 liter Mustangs all the time back in the day with my 1970 AMX. Now all I own are 5 liters, oh the irony.

      • jwinters

        same here only mine is a 4.6 3v 🙂

  6. ccrvtt

    I drive a box-stock C6 & I don’t care if I can’t beat a hot 5.0 or Challenger. Just so I don’t lose to a ricer with a coffee can muffler…

  7. Mike

    No deviation but the carpet? What do you call the headers and exhaust? I would consider those upgrades too and change from stock.


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