High Mileage Saleen: 1986 Ford Mustang

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

When we normally write up a post about a Saleen Mustang, a common thread is how it somewhere south of 25,000 miles and lived in a bubble during the winter months. Not this car: it has a healthy 104,000 miles on the clock, faded stripes, previous accident damage repair and other signs of a life well-lived. Aren’t driver’s cars supposed to be driven? Find this well-loved 1986 Saleen Mustang here on eBay with a $14,500 Buy-It-Now and the option to submit a best offer.

The seller notes that the Saleen spent most of its life with one owner in the Tulsa area. In that time, it picked up a few dings and dents, most of which have been addressed with paintless dent removal. You can still spot the signs of age with the faded stripes and bumper plastic on the rear quarter, and the seller notes that some of the ground effects kit has cracks. Great efforts have been made to preserve the car as it was in the 80s, such as updating the rotten aftermarket Dynomax exhaust with a direct replacement.

The engine remains as Saleen intended and has not been taken apart. The 3.08 rear axle also hasn’t been touched, though the seller did install a new clutch. There’s a lot to like here, as even with the higher mileage the engine bay presents incredibly well with factory stickers still in place. I do question whether the hood prop was painted by the factory, as that seems incredibly tacky even by 1980s Ford production standards. However, the seller does note there are a number of cosmetic issues that he attributes to the rush job Saleen put on every Mustang in order to get cars out the door.

One of the more appealing aspects of the car is the treasure trove of spare parts included with the sale (which the seller very quickly points out will not be sold separately, and I can’t blame him.) This includes a Saleen car cover, hood bra, driver’s jacket, a new stripe kit, floor mats and shift knob, among other goodies. The original Konis are included as well, since the seller swapped them out for Monroes (ugh) because the car rode too rough. A nice survivor that the seller says you can either drive as-is or restore to concours condition. Which would you choose?

Like This? Get Our Daily Email!

Comments

  1. Dolphin

    A Saleen would be about my first choice among Fords, after…oh I don’t know….maybe a 350GT or a GT40 (vintage or one of the recent ones), or a Deuce coupe, or……

    Yes I know Saleens really started out as Fords, but then Steve Saleen, who I believe was licensed as a manufacturer, turned them into Saleens, which handled, stopped, and did other things better than the Fords they started out as.

    As for a bit more than 100K miles, that wouldn’t necessarily stop me from buying provided the car passed my inspection and drove well. These have been selling at auction for a median price of $17K lately, so the asking for this Saleen might be OK if those 100K+ miles didn’t take too much out of the car. And you can always make s lower offer.

  2. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    A Saleen would be about my first choice among Fords, after…oh I don’t know….maybe a 350GT or a GT40 (vintage or one of the recent ones), or a Deuce coupe, or……

    Saleens started out as Mustangs but Steve Saleen, who I believe was licensed as a manufacturer, turned them into cars that handled, stopped, and did other things better than the Fords they started out as.

    As for a bit more than 100K miles, that wouldn’t necessarily stop me from buying provided the car passed my inspection and drove well. These have been selling at auction for a median price of $17K lately, so the asking for this Saleen might be OK if those 100K+ miles didn’t take too much out of the car.

    2
  3. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    I have noticed 100k miles being referenced as high miles so many times on barn finds yet for the age of the car its really low?
    Just over 3k miles a year is nothing, especially for a drivers car.
    America is a huge place with long drives not unusual surely? The average miles per year for a car there has to be 12k+? Granted it reduces with age but 100k easily racked up in most.
    I would rather have this than a 25k mile garage queen that would be twice the price or more.

    7
    • Steve R

      That’s is especially true since many “low mileage” cars offer no eveidence other than a picture of the speedometer. If this car wasn’t beat to death, 100,000 miles is a walk in the park. It has 3.08 gears and an overdrive transmission. I’m don’t have any clue as to whether is car is a good deal, but it appears to be anything but worn out.

      Steve R

      3
  4. Miguel

    I am struggling to see what is special about this car.

    1
    • J Paul

      In some ways, the Saleen Mustang was the mid-80s equivalent of what Shelby was doing in the mid-60s with the GT350: taking a basic Mustang, modifying it to be more competitive in racing, and selling a street version to the public. And Saleen was pretty successful at it. He won quite a few SCCA championships with his cars.

      They didn’t offer much in terms of power over a standard Mustang GT (to keep the Ford Warranty intact), but they had a lot of tweaks to the suspension and handling, in addition to the obvious visual differences.

      While this isn’t a tire-burner by modern standards, it was a very special car back in 1986. If I were to think of a list of 80s cars that are destined to become collectors items, Saleens would definitely be on there. I like this one, and if I owned it I would restore it back to new.

      7
      • Miguel

        J Paul, I see a red Mustang with a different wing on it and plastic headlight covers.

        Visually it is not much different than a standard Mustang. I had very similar rims on my 1990 GT I bought new.

        As far as handling goes, maybe it is better than a standard Mustang, but I don’t know. That was never important to me.

        I don’t think the comparison with Shelby is accurate.

        When you see a Shelby, you know it is a Shelby even before you can see the name.

        That is not the case here.

      • Steve R

        These cars were very distinctive for their time. Enthusiast had no problem recognizing them at first glance. These cars were at their height of popularity during the mid-80’s through the early-90’s, when there was no Cobra or Shelby. Later in their production run a popular upgrade was a supercharger, which had an S to its designation.

        Steve R

        3
    • Alan (Michigan)

      Many of the Saleen cars were delivered with stock drivetrains. This appears to be one of those. So for the extra cash over the same LX Mustang, you get the body kit, interior, and a modified suspension.

      Whether that makes the car worth the ask is not up to me to decide….

      1
    • Mike_B_SVT

      Miguel, Mustang folks know a Saleen when they see one – just like people know a Shelby when they see one. Saleen was basically doing the same thing that Shelby did: some exterior trim changes, handling upgrades, minor engine / performance mods. They really are comparable in their particular era. While Shelby is, of course, the more legendary name, Saleen has comparable racing history and a decades-longer production record.

      The nice thing is that when you see a “Shelby” your first question is “is it real?”. With a Saleen they are seldom cloned (and even more seldom cloned properly), so if you know the cue’s you don’t have to ask if it’s real 😉

      2
    • Dolphin Dolphin Member

      Miguel,
      There have been discussions on your question on BF quite a while ago. I haven’t looked at my Saleen brochures since then, so this is going on memory.

      Fox body Saleens don’t necessarily have engine changes that increase HP. That’s often done by the owner. But Fox body Saleens are about 2 things:

      1. Body/aero changes, especially large rear wings.
      2. Suspension and brake changes that really improve handling / cornering.

      Steve Saleen knew what he was doing with Fox body Mustangs, he did it for reasonable money, and he did it well. Saleen Mustangs almost always sell for a good premium over a same-year – same drivetrain regular Mustang because people know.

      Saleen produced a bunch of nice brochures for his Fox body cars. I got most of mine on Ebay, but there’s probably some uploaded on the web somewhere. Saleen is still modifying Fords and there’s a of info on the web about his recent Mustangs.

      2
  5. J Paul

    I would also say that this car is important because of what Saleen eventually became—it created the S7 supercar (which was also successful in racing) and was instrumental in making the re-imagined Ford GT in the early 2000. That’s a resume that goes far beyond just being a Mustang tuner.

    2
  6. Danger Dan

    Miguel:
    Love you for it! Having owned 10 of these I have watched the price leap up in the last 5 years. The front valance gives it away, it’s a great design. Then it usually says Saleen in big letters on the front screen. The 4 wheel discs are another give away with Ronal or speedline wheels. You get the flo-fit seats with helmet headrests. You get the Saleen gauges that go way up compared to stock ferd. There is a serial number above the shifter boot. Under the hood there is another ID plate and upgraded adjustable suspension. In addition to the side moldings there is a bad ass lower valance with split openings for the pipe tips. Then the cake is iced with the kickass whale tail that weighs fifty pounds. Have I missed anything lads?
    These may be small accoutrements but they all make the package great.

    3
  7. Mark

    It still has the factory air box under the hood!

    1
  8. Troy s

    This was built at the beginning of the injected 5.0 GT, the aftermarket wave of performance parts for these engines wasn’t there yet, so I don’t know what Saleen could have really done to the engine AND be compliant with any regulations. They would indeed become hairy scary fast cars later on, if ordered so.

  9. Andrew

    Saleen was not a manufacturer at this time. If he changed the engine he had to recertify it. So he left it alone and changed everything else. He numbered them all and there are pretty accurate resources to trace the pedigree of the cars. Rare cars, especially the four eye ones, which had any running production changes.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.