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Supercharged SUV: 1998 Ford Explorer Saleen XP8

While many of us around these parts have no love for the SUV given its predominance today over cars with fewer doors, reduced ride heights, and manual transmissions, we can generally all agree that more horsepower = good. That’s why this rare-as-all-get-out Saleen XP8 is worthy of a look, as it’s one of only a handful of gussied-up Explorers to get the supercharged V8 under the hood that generated very respectable horsepower numbers, put to the ground via an all-wheel drive system. Find it here on eBay with bids to just under $10K and the reserve unmet.

Like most Saleen products, the re-engineering work was substantial. The supercharger was a gigantic leap forward, but the suspension was also extensively revised. The Explorer received a lowered ride height courtesy of Racecraft suspension components and custom 18-inch wheels from Saleen were bolted on. High-performance tires from Pirelli also included, and as you can see here, the Explorer rides significantly closer to the ground than non-Saleen versions. A custom body kit was also included, with revised front and rear bumpers, side skirts, and more.

One of the few options available was a Recaro interior, which this XP8 appears to have. By the way, the excellent condition isn’t a mirage – this rare super truck has just 23,487 miles on the clock. The Explorer also comes with Coco-style floormats and a steering wheel with custom wood inserts. This era of the Explorer was a wildly popular platform, to the point that you still see Explorers of this era running around town. Which is why buying a truck like this actually makes sense on a few levels, including the fact that it won’t look terribly outdated in modern traffic.

The engine bay is quite clean, and shows no signs of modifications beyond what Saleen tuned up. Torque was quite healthy, too, rated at 333 ft.-lbs. The big question with these is collectibility: will a modern-day high performance SUV ever be worth huge dollars? I’m honestly not sure as a supercharged Ford Explorer isn’t the first vehicle most of us would think of when identifying the ideal collector and/or performance car. Still, if you need a limited production vehicle that you can feel comfortable using on the occasional daily commute, a Saleen-tweaked Explorer could be worth a look.


  1. Avatar photo DayDreamBeliever

    There aren’t many of these around…

    Seems to me that the last one I recall going across the block went unsold. The standard gap between a seller’s belief in value and potential buyers’ willingness to part with their money to own it….

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo Bry593

      Salty old Ford rollover with poorly designed aftermarket crap. What’s not to like?

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Steve R

        Switching from the OE Firestone tires and the lower stance, provided by Saleen, would have fixed that problem.

        Steve R

        Like 2
    • Avatar photo Shouldhaveleftit

      If I owned this, I’d park it down the street

      Like 2
  2. Avatar photo Bob_in_TN Member

    Jeff poses an interesting question: will the high-performance SUV ever be collectible? Or for that matter, any SUV? For most of us, our first thought would be “of course not.” But think of this….

    How many would have thought the basic, rough-and-tumble first generation Bronco would be highly collectible? Or the full-size wagon? Or a number of other vehicles which definitely are NOT muscle cars (think VW’s). We just don’t know what will become “hot” in the collector car market.

    Taking this thought process further, why might full size wagons now be “hot”? Perhaps because they represent our youth with its pleasant memories. Then our minds gravitate to the best of these models — think highly-optioned big-engined low-mileage Country Squires, like we have seen here.

    Using my line of thought, maybe a nicely maintained 1990’s Eddie Bauer Explorer (for some, it was the replacement for the full-size wagon) will be a highly sought vehicle in a decade. Which makes me wonder if this Saleen Explorer is simply before its (collector) time.

    Like 15
  3. Avatar photo Mitchell Gildea Member

    Remember when Explorers came with an optional V8? Pepperidge Farm remembers

    Like 7
  4. Avatar photo Matt G

    Hmm, 286hp is right in line with what most modern na V6 SUV’s are putting out. Was this thing fast at all?

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Steve R

      It doesn’t matter.

      There is no comparison between 60’s and early-70’s performance cars versus those of today yet that hasn’t hurt their desirability or value. People like what they like, often based on what they desired but couldn’t obtain, had and let get away or was common and familiar to the point or nostalgia.

      Steve R

      Like 14
    • Avatar photo Andrew

      At the time it would have likely been considered fast. Faster than most cars at least.

      The first 5.0 explorer was in 1996, you cant judge a 24 year old design/engine vs modern DOHC V6’s with VVT/VVL.

      I had two of the 5.0 explorers, they were torquey and once I installed torque monster headers, it really woke the engine up. Got much better MPG too. You can google the stock headers, they were just terrible.

      Today most modern cars would probably be as fast or faster than the supercharged version but thats mostly due to the 4 speed auto thats very reliable but not much else….


      Like 0
  5. Avatar photo Stangalang

    Hey guys don’t forget the GMC Typhoon..seems like these are becoming more popular so why not a hot rod explorer? I’ve driven both and the difference is like night and day. The power of the Typhoon sneaks up on you and mule kicks you in the back of the head (turbo lag). The Ford will mule kick you like right now (no lag from the blower) both are fun rides.

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo Todd Zuercher

      Thanks for bringing up that link – this truck has a lot of questionable stuff surrounding it that was exposed during that auction. Caveat Emptor for sure!

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo Dunk

        Sorry don’t understand? What questionable stuff?
        From a newbie

        Like 1
  6. Avatar photo DayDreamBeliever


    Pretty complete synopsis there.

    This brings up the fact that outfits like CarFax don’t know everything about vehicles, only what is generally available via public records.

    Be Careful Out There!

    Like 6
  7. Avatar photo jwzg

    i just looked up the vehicle to see about engine specs and this one was the first to show up in Google at BaT. Cross checked the SN and…

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo Jason

    This Saleen version aside, it sure seems like so few Explorers of this generation are still on the road, despite how absolutely ubiquitous they were when new! I believe it was the best selling vehicle in the US at the time.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Todd Zuercher

      Here in AZ we still see a fair number on the road but they’re beginning to age out fairly rapidly now. I’m seeing fewer and fewer 5.0 versions to pick parts from in the yonkes.

      Like 0
  9. Avatar photo luke arnott

    I had 2 V6 Explorers here in the UK.Not many left now!

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Bunky

    I had the pleasure of owning a ‘98 Explorer Limited w/5.0 V-8. (GT40 intake, roller pushrods). I almost didn’t buy it because of the automatic AWD. Turned out to be perfect for my wife to drive on winter roads. She didn’t have to worry about how/when/where to shift in or out of 4WD. It had lots of bells and whistles, plenty of power, and got respectable fuel economy. It’s forte however, was its handling and stability. What’s not to like indeed. This thing with lower ride height and more hp would be a hoot!

    Like 1
  11. Avatar photo Glenn Schwass Member

    I had a 94 Explorer and then a 99, both for work as field service vehicles. We carried a lot of weight and the 99 was much better than the 94 ( but the 94 had a great stereo that I miss.) It had a bass response that no vehicle since has had. Not loud bass, but crisp so you could hear each note. Fords and Chevy’s and now my Toyota do not although I think some is hearing loss which stinks).
    Anyway, the 99 with a V6 moved. They both handled ok and you’d have to do something really stupid to roll it. (And I drove them hard and fast). I don’t know how it could handle more HP since I could feel the AWD slip if really hauling. The V-8’s had coil pack issues. ( my F-250 did plus plugs spit out), so bad, that I wouldn’t want an 8. Throw turbo lifespan issue on tops of it and forget it. I want 200k out of a vehicle. I just traded in my f’d 250 since the rust was bad from PA brine but it still ran great and was not babied.
    ( except losing a coil pack once a year. ) I hauled 3 tons of pellets a year or more plus tons and tons of stone, mulch and dirt.

    Like 1
  12. Avatar photo Rustytech

    Their not around today because of two major issues, they had weak transmissions, I work for a fleet management company and can’t count how many transmissions were replaced in these when they hit about 60k, then the rollover problem took out many more.

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo PRA4SNW

    Didn’t meet reserve at $13,300. Relisted and up to $12,200.

    With this vehicles history, the seller should grab the money and then (try to) hide somewhere.

    Like 1

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