Maybe The Next Shelby GT350: 1991 Saleen Mustang

When Carrol Shelby cut the deal to make GT350 Mustangs with Ford, he really wasn’t doing anything to a stock Mustang that couldn’t be done by a competent do it yourselfer in their driveway.  What made the GT350 special was that the whole package had the Shelby pedigree.  As we all well know, anything produced in the sixties with the Shelby name is extremely collectible and frighteningly expensive in today’s collector car market.  As with nearly all limited production performance vehicles, a blind man could see that they would be collectible.  Moving forward a few decades, collectors are trying to determine which cars will be the most sought after in the collector car market of the near future.  A good argument could be made for the Saleen modified Fox body Mustangs produced from 1984 through 1993.  This 1991 Saleen Mustang, for sale on craigslist in Gastonia, North Carolina, seems to be a good car to grab up.  While the $14,500 price might be the top of the mark, the condition and relatively low miles make this modified pony car worth a second look.

Steve Saleen was a former professional Formula Atlantic driver who started a company called Saleen Autosport.  The primary purpose of the company was to produce modified Ford Mustangs for customers who wanted enhancements in appearance, speed, and handling.  The Fox body was a good starting point.  These cars were light weight, had a pretty good chassis by eighties standards,  a strong following, and they packed a proven drivetrain that was easy to modify.  Sold through Ford dealers, production of the cars increased as word got around to enthusiasts that a Saleen modified Mustang was a force to be reckoned with on the streets and on the track.  Consistently strong showings in SCCA competition further enhanced the reputation of these not so ordinary Mustangs.

Still, the argument can be made that the modifications that Saleen made were possible for the weekend warrior to install on his or her Mustang.  You could even go a step further and say that there were many more speed enhancing aftermarket parts available to cobble up a giant killer of a Mustang.  The big difference, just like with Shelby, was that these Mustangs had factory backing to ensure that they would always be considered collectible.  The extent to which these cars will be valued is still up in the air.  While an accomplished racer and businessman, Steve Saleen’s name does not have the same influence that Carrol Shelby’s did.  At least not yet.

So, what exactly did Saleen do to a stock Mustang to make this particular 1991 Mustang special?  According to mustangattitude.com , the main difference was a Racecraft suspension system.  This package included variable rate coil springs, Monroe Formula GP gas shocks, custom strut bearings, and urethane sway bar bushings.  From there, the other go fast goodies included a set of American Racing wheels shod with 225/50ZR-16 tires, a Saleen body kit, 170 mph speedometer, Hurst shifter with a leather shift knob, sports seats, and even a cool Saleen Mustang drivers jacket was included.  Ray Bans were optional.

This car is number 33 of 102 Saleen Mustangs made in 1991, which is a bit different from the seller’s totals.  Regardless, the seller states that this car only has 96,000 miles.  It has been kept in original condition with the exception of a new exhaust system having been added.  All of the standard maintenance has been done, and it has recently benefitted from a new paint job in the original black.  The interior is black as well, and nearly all the Saleen interior touches remain.  These include the previously mentioned Hurst shifter, a build plate, and the 170 mph speedometer.  According to one of our sharp eyed readers, the Corbeau seats are aftermarket, and the back seat is out of an LX Mustang.  The picture above also shows an aftermarket sound system has been retrofitted to replace the Pioneer stereo with a cassette player that came with Saleens originally.

Under the hood is the standard 225 horsepower 5.0 liter V-8 that was the envy of every high school and college kid in America.  Fitted above the engine is a Saleen stabilizer bar used to stiffen up the car, and a closer look shows everything to be in stock condition.  The only troubling thing I see here is the standard Ford 5.0 HO badge on the aluminum fuel injection assembly.  I was of the belief that a Saleen plate was supposed to be attached, but I may be wrong on this.  Hopefully a reader will help set things straight here.

In all, this Saleen is a very nice car that has been well maintained.  Any deficiencies, such as paint and wear items, have been brought back into shape as well.  However, we are left with two big questions here.  First, is it worth the asking price?  Second, what will it be worth in the future?  To answer the first question, good Fox bodies are strongly trending higher in the market already.  It will be worth the asking price soon if it is not already.  As for the second question, that is anybody’s guess.  I think the only thing holding these cars back from being high dollar collectibles is their lack of fame.  Everybody knows what a Shelby Mustang is, but Saleen Mustangs are known mostly to enthusiasts.  Its a shame, because you could argue that Steve Saleen’s creations were every bit the improvement that Carrol Shelby’s were.

P.S.  Please take a look at the comments.  There are some pretty good observations by readers who are knowledgeable about Saleen Mustangs, and they see some problems with this car.

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Comments

  1. Steve

    Incorrect front seats. incorrect 4 cylinder LX rear seat, replica Stern wheels and incorrect 85-86 tail lights. This car has a story to tell….

    • Jeff Bennett Staff

      Thanks for the information. I changed the story to reflect that the seats were incorrect. Sorry for the mistake. I just can’t know every detail about every car I write about, so I appreciate your corrections.

      Do you think the car is a legit Saleen that was rode hard and then fixed up, or is it cobbled together?

      • Steve

        It has the Saleen tags, and quite a few Saleen specific parts, but also missing a lot of Saleen specific items. It should have flofit seats up front with a rear covered to match along with the centers off the door cards. So a lot of the interior has been swapped out.

  2. Mike

    I get the writer missing some of the changes from an original Saleen, but those seats stick out like a sore thumb. It’s missing the Saleen door cards as well (in addition to what was pointed out by Steve).

    I would tread very carefully and double check every vin (the last 3 of the vin for 91-0033 should be “299” according to the Bowling book) before I spent any money.

  3. Todd Zuercher

    An aftermarket cold air intake as well.

  4. Robert

    The Shelby Mustangs gained their reputation from their stellar racing history, which the Saleens do not share. Saleen never won a Manufacturer’s Championship. Saleens are fine cars, highly desirable, and most certainly collectible, but they’ll never be the equal of the Shelbys because they lack the legendary history of Shelby, the man and his cars.

    • Steve

      Negative sir, Saleen Mustangs have won SIX manufactures championships and a stellar racing history.

      Like 1
  5. Wheelman

    Just by looking the shiftknobs wrong as Steve said the taillights are wrong should be 87-93 LX type. Like Shelby Saleens have a registry that can be checked for correct Vin#

  6. Troy s

    I feel that the Shelby cars, both the Mustang and the Cobra were built in a more exciting time period for cars, had well known recognition immediately, and have been very valuable for decades. Not so much with Shelby’s name on some front drive Dodge cars from the eighties.
    Although a rare sight back then let alone now, Saleen Mustangs hopefully will never cost two arms and one leg to own, I’m speaking of the old ones like this of course, and I doubt if any specialty 5.0(I believe there was one from Steeda also) will ever reach the dollar value of the original Shelby cars. Or shall I say hopefully they won’t as these were meant to be driven, hard.😎

  7. James

    For the asking price, I would stay away. With the list of non Saleen parts, seats, taillights, door cards, shifter and more, that asking price is too high. If it was all original and unmolested I think it wpuld be a good buy.

  8. Oddimotive Cason Oddimotive Cason Member

    I really like these cars and have since they were new. The big difference between most of Shelby’s work and Saleen’s is increased engine performance. The early Shelby Mustangs already had the potential K-code 289, but Shelby pumped them up a bit more and, of course, also added significant chassis updates. I often wonder whether the mainstream Saleens will ever break out in the same way with no added power.

    Of course, the SSC and later, supercharged offerings are different.

  9. Brandon

    This car is local to me and is also salvage so it cant be compared to a non salvage car. So good deal is relative to what the car is. This isn’t a good deal. Now if the car had no issues and was correct then it is a great deal but this car isn’t that.

  10. Big Lee

    My guess is that It is a salvage car due to being stolen and those saleen specific mustang parts were taken out of the car at the time of the theft.
    Thats what gets done to type R’s when stolen.

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