I recently had the chance to check out the Saleen S7, which is an absolutely unbelievable supercar that most people have forgotten. I say most people have forgotten about it, when in reality, many people never knew it existed in the first place — but it did exist, and it’s quite an interesting vehicle.
To start, let’s go over some basics of the Saleen S7. It was the brainchild of racing driver Steve Saleen, who rose to prominence in the world of Ford Mustang performance parts. Steve set out to build a midengine American supercar that would rival the famous European models, and the result was the Saleen S7.
The S7 I reviewed was the "original," or "base-level" S7, which debuted in 2000. It’s funny to call this car the "base model," considering it has a 550-horsepower 7.0-liter V8. But later S7 models have even more power thanks to twin turbocharging — those S7 TT models had an amazing 750 hp and could reach a theoretical top speed of 248 mph, though this figure was never really tested. From a performance standpoint, the S7 really was a rival to the Europeans, and it put up some amazing numbers. It also served as the basis for a race car, which competed in the ALMS series, and even in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.
These amazing numbers came at a cost, however. It’s hard to get good pricing data, as the S7 was sold in very small numbers and the last one was built more than a decade ago, but figure somewhere around $400,000 to $600,000 back when it was new. It’s similarly hard to figure out what it’s worth today, because so few of these cars ever come up for sale.
This particular S7 is for sale, however, and it’s offered by CNC Motors in Upland, California, east of Los Angeles, which really seems to have one of basically everything. I had always wanted to check out the S7, so I came to CNC solely to check out the S7 — and I wasn’t disappointed. The car is unusual, with many crazy quirks, and I’ve covered them in detail above. What I haven’t covered in detail above is the driving experience — and that’s because I didn’t drive it.
Yes, I didn’t drive the S7, but not because CNC didn’t let me. In fact, they were fine with me driving it, but they warned me beforehand that the cabin would be "tight." I had dealt with tight interiors before, so I figured it would turn out to be a non-issue. I was very, very wrong.
You see, it turns out that the Saleen S7 is tailored to the individual driver — so when you purchase one, you can send it to Saleen and have them fit the seat and steering wheel to your exact specifications. Unfortunately, this means that you personally cannot move the seat or steering wheel — and this particular car had clearly been driven previously by someone rather short. The result was that I literally couldn’t fit behind the wheel, no matter how I twisted or turned or contorted my body. I tried for quite a while, but it just wasn’t going to occur.
And so, I still don’t know how the Saleen S7 drives — but I do know all of its quirks, and there are quite a few. I’m sure I’ll have the chance to check it out someday from behind the wheel — but sadly, today, we’ll have to make do with a tour — and an awkward minute where I battle with the size of my legs to climb into this thing.