Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

Not content with celebrating its 25th anniversary by building the most-powerful production Mustang ever, niche auto maker Saleen Inc. unveils the all-new S5S Raptor sports car concept this week at the New York International Auto Show.

Although the Raptor is the second in-house developed Saleen vehicle, following the track-based S7 exotic car, the new model represents the first to be conceived under the auto maker’s new management team. It also demonstrates the combined capabilities of Saleen engineering and the design efforts of sister company ASC Inc., the auto maker says.

Aimed at Italian exotics such as the Ferrari F430, the S5S Raptor is a 2-seat, rear-wheel-drive sports car with an aluminum frame and aggressive styling.

“The vehicle’s bold shoulders are reflective of an aggressive American attitude, reminiscent of Can-Am race car styling cues but delivered with modern sophistication,” says Saleen General Manager Marques McCammon.

A twin-screw supercharged, 5.0L SOHC V-8, similar to the all-aluminum mills used in lesser Saleen Mustangs, powers the S5S concept and can be backed up by either a 6-speed manual or automated sequential gearbox with paddle shifters.

A substantial output of 650 hp and 630 lb.-ft. (854 Nm) of torque is produced by running the engine on second-generation E85 cellulosic ethanol, which in addition to its higher octane rating emits less harmful emissions than gasoline.

Performance for the 3,365-lb. (1,526-kg) Raptor is expected to come in the form of 3.2-second 0-60 mph (97 km/h) runs and a 200-plus mph (322 km/h) top speed, Saleen says.

Double-wishbone suspensions secure the action at the four corners, while 20-in. forged aluminum wheels (with black-diamond and carbon-fiber finishes) wrapped in Pirelli rubber frame the 15-in. (38-cm) front and 13-in. (33-cm) rear disc brakes.

The Raptor has a wheelbase of 106.3 ins. (270 cm), with length, width and height measuring 175.0 ins. (445 cm), 78.6 ins. (200 cm) and 46.0 ins. (117 cm), respectively.

As the new car is aimed at being far more compliant on the street than the near-race-ready S7, antilock braking-based traction and stability controls have been added, as has a unique solar-tented glass roof.

Saleen says the S5S Raptor could enter production within two years and would carry a sticker of about $185,000.

“The Raptor is just a glimpse of things to come from Saleen,” Chief Technical Officer Chris Theodore says, noting the auto maker’s storied involvement in high-performance Ford Mustangs, as well as the Dodge Viper, Prowler and Ford GT.

“These ‘lessons learned’ are evident in the Raptor, and we will continue to build upon them as the company evolves.”

Sharing the stage with the S5S Raptor concept in New York are several other new Saleen/ASC products, including ASC’s new InfiniStor powered tonneau cover for pickup trucks.

Made of the same acrylic fabric the supplier uses for the Jeep Liberty’s retractable Sky Slider roof, the cover is actuated by a key fob and can be rolled forward or backward, allowing bed access from the cab or the tailgate.

ASC is displaying InfiniStor in New York on a Saleen S331 SC sport truck but says the system will fit nearly any truck bed currently on the market.

Also on hand is ASC’s SKYVu scenic roof system for the Saleen Mustang range.

By replacing the car’s steel roof with a large glass panel, SKYVu offers the sun-drenched ambiance of a convertible with the security of a hard top, the company says.

The technology is similar to the glass roof option Ford Motor Co. plans to offer on its ’09 Mustang, but is differentiated by its ability to be completely retracted over the rear backlight at the push of a button.

msutton@wardsauto.com