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Plug-in Power! The Saleen Tesla Model S

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On: Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 2:06PM | By: Teddy Field

Plug-in Power! The Saleen Tesla Model S

When you say “Saleen” around a car nerd, they'll probably think of a feral Mustang, wrapped in an outlandish bodykit. Saleen has been tuning Ford's pony cars for so long, it's hard to imagine the “Saleen” name attached to anything else. But that's about to change, as the legendary tuner launches a new kind of hot rod. One with a plug, and a battery pack, and an outlandish bodykit. Times are changing, and Saleen's changing too. Say hello then, to the Saleen Tesla Model S.

Back in 1984, a racing driver named Steve Saleen decided to create the ultimate version of Ford's new Fox-body Mustang. The brass in Deerborn loved the idea, and blessed his creation with Factory Authorization and a warranty. It didn't have any performance mods, but the suspension and aerodynamic tweaks were born from Saleen's extensive racing R&D. The end result was a car that handled much better than the factory version. Plus, it looked about a thousand times cooler.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and battery power is set to supplant horsepower. Sure, internal combustion monsters like the Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger still roam the earth. And Saleen does make appropriately toothy packages for each of them. However, impending government regulations have forced many automakers to explore electricity as a way to meet strict CAFE standards. As a specialty car manufacturer, Saleen has also been forced to do the 'electric slide'. Hence this unusual pairing. Although, the Tesla Model S isn't a bad dance partner.

Weighing in at 4,766 lbs, the top-spec Tesla Model S Performance can scamper to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. To give you some perspective, that's faster than a V12 Aston Martin Rapide S, a supercharged Audi S7, and a (2014) Mercedes S65 AMG. It's also capable of pulling 0.92 Gs on a skid pad, which isn't bad for a 7-seat luxury sedan.

Steve Saleen hasn't said what modifications they're planning, but the recently released renderings suggest that the Saleen Model S could follow in the footsteps of the first Saleen Mustang, i.e. suspension, bodykit, and rims. There also appears to be a massive set of ceramic brake rotors on the prototype illustration. And as any race car builder will tell you, an easy way to make a car faster around a track is to give it really powerful brakes (they allow you to brake later for a turn, thereby decreasing your lap time). Not to mention, a 4,766 lb performance car could really benefit from heat-activated brakes. Wonder how those carbon ceramic brakes will work with the re-gen charging system?

According to Tesla, the Saleen Model S is being developed entirely by Saleen. In a statement, Steve Saleen said, "And as pleased as I am by the aesthetics seen in these renderings, perhaps the true Saleen mark will be best exhibited by the mechanical enhancements that will only be seen as the live vehicle hits the streets this summer.”

We can't wait to see what the ultimate West Coast hot rodder does to the ultimate West Coast car.

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