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Under 12K Miles: 2002 Ford Mustang Saleen S281

The seller claims this is a one-of-one Saleen S281 of the supercharged variety, and while production numbers for this model are certainly low, more impressive is the low mileage of just under 12,000. The S281 utilizes a “New Edge” version of the SN95 platform, which is a far bit more aggressive than the model that debuted in 1995. All that aside, this supercharged Mustang should be good for about 350 horsepower along with all of the other modifications Saleen built into these cars. They are certainly collectible, but sales results seem somewhat inconsistent at times. Find the Mustang here on eBay with bids to $25,100 and no reserve.

I’ve always been smitten with the earliest Saleen models from the Fox body years. Those, to me, represented peak 1980s tuner styling, and while the power outputs were largely left unchanged, the rest of the car made up for the standard horsepower rating. The later Saleens were definitely more of a total package, with the requisite suspension and bodywork enhancements but also big-time power upgrades under the hood. The S281 cars used a Roots-type supercharger and air-to-water intercooler to deliver 350 horsepower to the rear wheels, which in this case were rather flashy chrome five-spokes. Of course, the rear wing is pretty hard to miss as well.

The interiors were largely unchanged from the standard model, which always struck me as a let-down for someone paying a serious premium over a range-topping GT. Not even a Saleen steering wheel was offered and forget about Recaro seats. Now, much of this changed with the later-production models, but it did seem to become a theme with the SN95 cars that the interiors simply were not a focal point for the factory or aftermarket companies like Saleen. While this interior is pretty much mint, I’m still surprised to see the stress cracks evident on the driver’s seat; hopefully, some leather dye and conditioning will take care of that issue.

Under the hood is nicely presented with plenty of Saleen branding to let you know this isn’t a standard-issue GT. The seller doesn’t provide much detail about service or maintenance history, but with such low mileage, there may not be much of a story to tell. The bidding is surprising to me as historically, there doesn’t seem to be much love for Saleens, and especially for SN95 cars. Car & Driver at the time even had some questions about the projected power output as the out-of-the-box performance didn’t seem to measure up with the numbers; however, top-speed and the sprint to 100 and 130 miles per hour were all much quicker in the S281.

Comments

  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Looks like a nice car. With the Saleen body kit, whale tail, chrome wheels, and bright red paint, lots of visual pizzaz. Plenty of power. For whatever reason, for this generation of Mustangs only the Terminators have taken off in value. I wonder if that will change, as there is plenty to like about models such as this Saleen.

    Like 4
    • That 80's Guy That 80's Guy

      Agree…

      Likely because these cars, even with the engine enhancements, where well behind their GM F-body counterparts in terms of HP and acceleration. And they’re not yet old enough for this to be overlooked in the name of collectibility.

      The Terminators were legends in their own time and were the first factory Mustangs in a decade to really take it to the GM boys. This is basically Ford’s Grand National in terms of status.

  2. Joe Haska

    I had to look twice to even recognize this as a Mustang. When I saw the price, I immediately thought this would be a good deal. If it is or not, I don’t really know. If I had money and I just spent it on a gut feeling, I would own this car, for better or worse.

    Like 2
  3. Stan

    Odd cars these ones.

    Like 1
  4. Frank Sumatra

    Saleen products have zero visual appeal. IMHO they always look tacky and cheap. “Less is more” never occurred to them.

    Like 4
  5. SirRaoulDuke

    I’m not surprised by the stress cracks in the leather, Ford leather in this period was garbage.

    Like 2
  6. Troy

    I had a stock 2000 mustang hard top I felt I was to tall for it because there was just enough room for my hand on top of my head hitting the headliner never tried sitting in the soft top

  7. Howie

    I think it looks great, and even better with the top down. Should go much higher.

    Like 1

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