Since Saleen unveiled their 435S Mustang at Mustang Week in South Carolina last July, the Troy, Michigan-based company has been busy preparing for production of their latest entry into the pony car market. With a production spec 435S model ready to drive, StangTV jumped at the invite and opportunity to test drive a Torch Red 435S around the back roads of Southeast Michigan.

Prior to the Saleen 435S test drive, we had the opportunity to meet the core group of Saleen Performance Vehicles management. The group is made up of Michael Shields – CEO; David Byron - Design Director; Michael Timarac - Brand Manager; and Jess Albright – Operations Manager. After meeting the Saleen group, discussing their approach to building Mustangs, and driving the first production model, we anticipate that Saleen will be returning to the top of the performance Mustang ladder. The Saleen group is in a unique situation, building the Saleen name back into a performance powerhouse after months of being off the performance radar. Based on our introduction and interaction with the group, we're here to tell you that they are passionate about the Saleen name, and plan on utilizing all of the resources within the parent company to produce some exciting products and cars. If the 435S is a hint at what they can produce in a short period of time, the next Saleen S281 model should give the competition a good run for their money.

Saleen 435S Photo Gallery

Saleen 435S

If you’re not familiar with the Saleen 435S package, it starts life as a 2010 Mustang GT, built at Ford's Flat Rock Assembly plant, and is transformed at Saleen’s build facility with a number of Saleen-built parts. The parts are installed by Saleen technicians, and completed cars are then shipped to one of Saleen's 180 dealers. Michal Timarac told StangTV that Saleen has a targeted release of around three hundred 435S Mustangs per year.

The Torch Red 435S coupe we drove was powerful, well balanced and stealthy-looking for a Saleen.

One noticeable difference in the 435S when you first encounter it is the absence of “Boy Racer” fascias and overstated aero package. The optional Saleen 435S front splitter and rear wing are subtle and tastefully accent the 2010 Mustang's styling updates. The standard Saleen exterior add-on items for the 435S include: Saleen 435S fender badging; 435S hood graphics; Saleen trunk panel; and Saleen door and windshield graphics.

While you won't turn heads driving the car (as with past Saleen models), the understated look has its advantages on the street and track.

Supercharged Power

The most important update on the 435S is the installation of Saleen’s screw-type Series VI Supercharger, which is built in-house and features a two-stage intercooler, new injectors, front mount heat exchanger, and performance engine calibration. Saleen builds the supercharger unit in its sister company's Power-Tech/Cyltec Manufacturing facility. While on the 435S test drive, we had the opportunity to meet Lee Carducci and Devin Rickey of Power-Tech, and we can tell you that Saleen has big plans for their supercharger program. With the supercharger update, the 435S Mustang is rated at 435 horsepower and 425 ft/lbs of torque.

The installation of the Saleen Series VI supercharger is OEM quality in fit/finish and is quieter than most screw superchargers we’ve driven. When you're in boost you hear a faint blower whine, but it's not overpowering like other Mustangs we've driven.

The twin-screw, intercooled supercharger looks like an OEM install and produces 120 extra horsepower.

We were disappointed that the base model did not include a boost gauge to monitor boost. We were told that the boost gauge is optional as a dash mounted gauge pod unit, but we feel that it should be standard with any supercharged car.

Saleen builds all its superchargers in its Power-Tech/Cyltec facility. The plant also has a contract with Ford to machine all 4-valve modular heads.

A Saleen technician builds a Saleen Supercharger for a future 435S. This unit will also be available in an aftermarket kit through Saleen's Speedlab Parts Program.

Saleen has done its due diligence with the supercharger engineering, and hired calibration engineers with OEM experience to develop the PCM update. With that high level of calibration experience, we anticipate that the Saleen calibration targets 100,000 miles plus durability - something most aftermarket supercharger companies can't brag about.

The extra 120 horsepower makes the Saleen 435S Mustang a blast to drive and at 4,000 RPMs, the 4.6-liter engine pulls hard. The extra power, when combined with the suspension updates, makes the 435S a bargain in the high-performance Mustang arena. To transfer all that new power to the rear wheels, the 435S is equipped with the factory Tremec 5-speed manual transmission and a 3.73:1 rear axle ratio with limited-slip differential.

Racecraft Tuned Suspension

No Saleen Mustang would be complete without suspension updates that make it handle like a well-tuned slot car. The 435S features Racecraft nitrogen-pressurized dampers, 1.5-inch lowering springs, and a stiffer front sway bar. On a washboard gravel road, the Mustang was smooth and tracked straight. When we encountered the rare twisty section of a Michigan two-lane, the 435S acted like it was laughing at us and was ready to take on the corkscrew at Laguna Seca.

The 435S is lowered 1.5 inches compared to the factory Mustang GT. Argent wheels look good on this package.

Saleen offers an optional Watts Link rear suspension setup that centers the rear axle without the factory pan-hard bar. The Watts Link was standard on the Parnelli Jones Limited Edition Mustang, and improves the handling dynamics of the 435S by giving the live axle a true live-center. This allows the axle to pivot through the center of the differential, and move up and down without the tires scrubbing side-to-side. If you intend to open track the car, or if the Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina is part of your daily commute, the Watts Link option is worth looking into.

Saleen 435S Interior

The coupe test car we drove had the standard 435S interior updates. The most visual Saleen item is the white face gauge cluster. The font Saleen has selected for the MPH and RPM numbers is similar to a high-end sports watch. All come equipped with Mustang's MyColor feature, allowing you to change the interior lighting to match your taste.

435S interior includes Saleen white face gauges, short throw shifter, embroidered Saleen logo in headrests, and serialized dash plate.

The front seats feature a Saleen logo embroidered into the headrest, and they have enough side support to keep you centered in the seat at speed. The Saleen short throw shifter was a nice touch and was not as notchy as some aftermarket units we've tested in the past.

Package Pricing

What’s so impressive about the Saleen 435S Mustang is the package pricing. For basically $10,000 you get a professionally installed, intercooled, screw-type supercharger and Saleen Racecraft suspension. Throw in the trademark Saleen 18-inch, 5-spoke alloy wheels and 435S badging, and it’s a deal. Who else is offering a “world class” serialized limited production Mustang at that price point?

The price of the 435S coupe that we drove, with its braking and aero styling options, was priced at $49,600.00. While some Mustang number crunchers will argue that the price puts you in Shelby GT500 territory, the Saleen is a limited production car built out by Saleen. If you go with a base car, the price is in the mid-40s.

Our test car was number 02 of a planned 300 build. We're told the Number 01 435S went to a Saleen collector, who bought it at the Mustang Week reveal.

“In these difficult economic times we wanted our first vehicle to deliver a lot for an affordable price,” said Mike Shields, CEO of Saleen Performance Vehicles. “It was created much more for ‘go’ than for show. We focused on power and handling, and it’s a great platform to build on if a customer wants to take it farther later on.”

The Torch red 435S coupe we drove included some of the optional upgrades, including the 14-inch slotted front rotors and 4-piston Saleen calipers with high-performance brake pads. The calipers are made for Saleen by Stop-Tech and are worth every penny if you ever plan on taking the car to a track day.

While we were not able to test the brakes, we hope we’re invited to Saleen’s next track day so we can tell you how well the performance brake option slows the 3400 pound 435S down. We can report that they felt good on our short drive, and the factory ABS still works with the larger caliper and rotor.

The optional brake upgrade features four-piston calipers, slotted rotors and high-performance brake pads.

To be honest, when we saw the photos of the 435S after its July reveal, we were suspicious of what Saleen was up to. With all the confusion around the company’s founder and new management’s direction, we were not sure what was happening with the company. After meeting the management team, touring the facilities and driving the 435S, we look forward to seeing more exciting Mustangs from Saleen in the near future.

We’ve been told that the S-281 Mustang will be revealed by late October, will be on display at SEMA, and will be ready to ship to dealers by the first quarter of 2010. With the 435S and S-281 in the lineup, plus the SpeedLab parts for the DIY guy, Saleen has something that appeals to every buyer in the Mustang enthusiast market.


Saleen Performance Vehicles


Phone: (800) 888-8945

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