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Robb Report Car of the Year 2008: No. 13 Saleen S302 Extreme

<< Back to Robb Report, Car of the Year

Mustang with the Most Horses.

Although I cannot quite put my finger on it, something about the shape of the S302 Extreme seems familiar. Seriously, though, Saleen’s extreme modifications have rendered the Ford Mustang almost unrecognizable. Saleen’s 620 hp supercharged V-8 (the second most potent engine in this group, next to the Lamborghini’s) overpowers even Carroll Shelby’s new, 540 hp version of the Mustang, called King of the Road. Saleen retained the windshield, interior panels, and little else from Ford’s adaptable blueprint; the engine, suspension, transmission, brakes, wheels, and most of the body are new. Turn off the traction control, and the high-performance Pirelli tires will leave twin streaks of black rubber all over the pavement, while the car itself leaves Dodge Vipers in the dust. —Gregory Anderson

 

Manageable Muscle

Although nobody is mentioning it, this car began life as a made-by-the-million Ford Mustang. And painted black with an ebony interior that evokes the evil look of Orgodemir, this is a car that could be a death wish on wheels. However, despite its 620 supercharged horsepower, the Extreme is relatively gentle and even predictable. Yes, it visibly quivers at rest, and if you stomp on the gas pedal while turning sharply, the world will revolve around you. But if you are prepared to maneuver the car without startling it, you can enjoy a ton of controllable power, a suspension system that rides taut without being unruly, brakes capable of handling all that muscle, and steering that is more responsive than reins. The Saleen is definitely a good ol’ boy muscle car. Yet it also is a finely engineered piece of machinery that trots as well as it lopes and gallops. —Paul Dean

 

Tricked-Out Pony

The Saleen Extreme—essentially an extremely tricked-out Mustang—fails to stir the soul. Sure, with 620 hp, you will slaughter everyone at your local stoplight. But the car suffers from a variety of maladies, ranging from so-so build quality to handling that can be frightening. A muscle car diehard will enjoy this car, but if you prefer vehicles more flush with technology and sophistication, this field offers better choices. —Marco R. della Cava

Saleen, www.saleen.com

LAYOUT

Front-engine, rear-wheel drive

ENGINE

5-liter, supercharged V-8

TRANSMISSION

6-speed manual

POWER

620 hp, 600 ft lbs

ZERO-TO-60

4 seconds

TOP SPEED

155 mph

BASE PRICE: $84,149

PRICE AS TESTED: $84,149

ROBB REPORT RATING: 54.7

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