Horse Sense: Tom Rice contacted Saleen for production information on his S351 and found it to be a T-code car, meaning it came from Saleen with a package that included leather interior, Saleen/Alcon brakes, and magnesium wheels. Saleen also pegged production of the '95 S351s at 126 units-the highest volume of any year S351.
Marysville, Washington's Tom Rice has been a Mustang junkie for years. For some, that might mean a young lifetime of fuel-injected fanaticism via the Fox-body assault of the '80s. However, Tom's enthusiasm began when the only ticket in town was the '60s-era stuff. He even has a tricked-out '67 fastback that was featured in one of the mid-'80s Mustang mags. But Tom aspired to own one of the pinnacle Mustangs ever built-one of Carroll Shelby's legendary creations.
From the beginning of his search, Tom was set on a red Saleen, and Ford's Rio Red topcoat
Fast-forwarding a couple of decades has hardly diminished the allure of the Shelby Mustang. For Tom, the late-model revolution caught his attention after stepping back from the car scene for a few years, while a subsequent interest in Saleen products put the thought of another vintage machine to rest. By the middle of 2000 he was in a position to make his purchase, and the search for a Saleen Mustang began. Tom was specific about what he wanted, with red paint, a leather interior, and 351 ci being the main requirements. No doubt the latter meant the field of candidates was fairly narrow, as just over 300 S351s were built during a production run that began in 1994.
Tom located a promising '95 S351 in Virginia via the Internet, and he flew cross-country to be sure the car was as good as advertised. Despite just 5,000 miles on the odometer, the rare Saleen had already seen some major revisions-a Hogan sheetmetal intake, Victor Jr. heads, an ACCEL DFI, and a Griggs front suspension. Fortunately the car turned out to be pristine. And, as the mods were in keeping with Tom's plans for a radical ride, a deal was struck.
A glance at the engine compartment explains what we're referring to in our title. Not only
Anyone who's bought a used car can relate a surprise or two they found after the purchase, and Tom's experience was no different. Once the S351 found its way off the transporter in Washington state, Tom spent a week or so getting acquainted with the substantial street prowess of one of Saleen's best. Surprise number one came when he performed a routine oil change and found a large chunk of metal attached to the magnetic drain plug. For his peace of mind, he deemed a teardown as the only solution. Then came surprise number two. Instead of finding the expected stock 351 bottom end, Tom found himself staring at a 408-inch stroker with H-beam rods and a forged crank. Indeed, this was one Saleen that was modified from virtually day one, while the specifics of the engine had been lost in the shuffle of three prior owners.
Tom soon found the cause of the contaminated crankcase-inadequate clearance between the bottom of the distributor and the block. The block was still serviceable, however, so Tom resolved the problem and reassembled the engine taking into account a planned addition of boost. Ed's Automotive and Machine align-honed, decked, and O-ringed the block and installed ARP studs throughout. Further upgrades included a Probe billet main girdle, inverted-dome JE forged pistons, and a Comp Cams blower grind in preparation for a Vortech T-Trim.
With the engine properly squared away, Tom turned to Brad's Custom Auto for a rear suspension that would complement the already present Griggs front end. A Griggs torque arm and severe-duty Panhard bar are the major players here. They're teamed with Griggs conventional springs, Koni shocks, and Hotchkis control arms for now, with Griggs arms and coilovers planned in the future. Cornering prowess is assured, and when teamed with the Saleen-optional Alcon four-piston front brakes, it all makes for a formidable package.
Banging gears in the Hanlon Motorsports-built Tremec 3550 is aided by a Pro-5.0 shifter and a Spec Stage 3 clutch assembly. A Griggs aluminum driveshaft takes it from there, transferring power to a mostly stock 8.8-augmented by 3.73 gears and a TA girdle. And just how much power is on hand? That's somewhat of an unknown as we go to press, as a run on a local Mustang dyno lit up the tires on the rollers, yet still indicated 512 hp at 6,000 rpm and 571 lb-ft of torque at 3,750 rpm. Another go on a Dynojet revealed some tuning issues that are currently being resolved, but Tom believes the numbers will be well into the 600hp range.
We'll resist comparing this outrageous Saleen to the Shelby that Tom might have had for the same amount of dough, as both cars are terrific examples of the best their eras had to offer. Nevertheless, we couldn't help but ask Tom if he would make the same decision had he to do it over again. The answer was a resounding "yes." Tom has embraced the kind of technology that makes today's cars unparalleled performers. That such high performance can still be had in a package that proclaims Mustang's terrific heritage is all the better.
A well-executed rollcage is planned for the future, but for now, the interior remains virtually stock. The black leather Recaros were on the option list for '95 Saleens, while the white-faced gauge package was standard-including a 200-mph speedometer that doesn't seem overly optimistic in this case. Of course, the dash-pod monitors the supercharger specifics of fuel pressure and boost.
|5.0 Tech Specs|
|ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN||ELECTRONICS|
|0.030 over production 351 roller,||ACCEL DFI|
|Probe billet girdle||Ignition|
|4.00 stroke forged Eagle|| |
|Connecting Rods||SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS|
|Eagle H-beam||Front Suspension|
|Inverted-dome JE forged||Griggs tubular K-member, control|
|Ported Edelbrock Victor Jr.||Struts|
|Intake||Koni Sport struts|
|Throttle Body||Coilover springs|
|Camshaft||Saleen/Alcon four-piston front|
|Comp Cams blower grind, 114-||Wheels|
|degree LCA, 0.577/0.576-in lift,||Saleen Speedline 18x8.5|
|245/252 degrees duration at 0.050||Tires|
|Power Adder||BFGoodrich Comp TA|
|Vortech T-Trim w/2.95-in pulley,||245/40ZR-18|
|Anderson Power Pipe||Rear Suspension|
|Metallic ceramic Hooker short-||Griggs torque arm, Panhard bar,|
|tubes, stainless off-road H-pipe,||and Hotchkis control arms|
|Fuel System||Koni Sport shocks|
|Paxton pump and regulator, -8||Springs|
|and -6 braided lines, Hogan rails,||Griggs (conventional)|
|Delphi 50-lb/hr injectors||Chassis Stiffening|
|Transmission||Griggs subframe connectors|
|Tremec 3550, Spec Stage 3||Brakes|
|clutch, Pro-5.0 shifter||Saleen slotted rear|
|8.8-in w/ 3.73 gears, TA||Saleen Speedline 18x10|
| ||BFGoodrich Comp TA|