It was 31 years ago when Steve Saleen marketed his first Ford Mustang-based creation. It had spoilers and stickers and snazzy wheels and 140 hp, which in 1984, seemed like a lot.
Fast forward to 2015, and Saleen Automotive, Inc. of Corona, Calif., is still producing pumped-up Mustangs, only now, Saleen’s steeds are rather more potent and more extreme than before. The least powerful of his latest crop of Mustangs, all of which are based on the all-new 2015 model, is the S302 “White Label,” producing 450 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque, up from 435 hp and 400 lb-ft for the stock Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter Coyote V-8.
And then there’s this car: the 2015 S302 “Black Label," which made its official debut in Los Angeles last weekend. First announced last fall, the Black Label would be equipped with a supercharged version of the aforementioned Coyote V-8, with output pegged at 640 hp. But as it spun on a turntable before us, Saleen announced that his twin-scroll supercharger actually ups the Coyote’s output to a monstrous 730 hp and 600 lb-ft of twist — on 91 octane gas, no less. And if you live in a state where the fuel octanes are higher, the Black Label’s supercharged V-8 pumps out up to 750 horses.
While Saleen would never admit it, we can’t help but think that the extra 90 horsepower — discovered by repeatedly upping the boost and recalibrating to ensure drivability — were found in order to gain bragging rights over the 707-hp Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Regardless, we’re sufficiently impressed. Call it Hell-yote.
Supporting the formidable powerplant is a six-speed manual transmission with a choice of 3.31, 3.55, or 3.73 rear ends, or a paddle-shifted six-speed automatic with 3.15 or 3.55 rear axles will be tasked with shifting responsibilities, and a limited-slip differential is standard on all models. Each engine will be serial numbered and marked with a plaque.
As with lesser S302 models, the Black Label rides on Saleen’s S4 high-performance suspension but adds unique front and rear shocks, while a fully adjustable coil-over suspension is optional. Large 13.9-in front and 13.0-in rear brake rotors are standard, clamped by four-piston front and single-piston rear calipers; 15.0-in front discs with six-piston calipers are a $3,300 upgrade, and for another $500, the rear discs will grow to 14-in with four-piston calipers, all cross-drilled and slotted. Interestingly, 20-inch wheels are standard, while 19-in Minilite-inspired wheels are optional, all 10 inches wide in back, and 9 inches wide in front. The display vehicle wore Pirelli P-Zero supercar tires measuring 275/35 up front and 275/40-series out back; Saleen representatives acknowledge that more rubber may be needed to get all that power to the ground, and it is looking at ways to fit 305s in the back, though that may require significant modifications to the chassis and/or body.
It certainly looks menacing. Shown in shimmering gold paint called “California Sunset,” the Mustang S302 Black Label sits low on its 20-inch wheels, and wears 360 degrees of angry-looking, slotted, scooped, and diffused carbon fiber skirting that adds approximately three and a half inches to the car’s overall length. A big spoiler hangs off the back, and two of the Mustang’s vertical taillamps blades have been blackened, leaving only four. The Black Label’s hood features a trio of vents, but sadly, no red butterfly valves as with its predecessors. However, Saleen’s trademark hash marks do make an appearance on the fenders.
Inside, the car features mostly Mustang parts and pieces, dressed up with Katzkin leather upholstery with the Saleen hash marks making another appearance on the right-side seat bolsters. That said, this car is not about cosmetics, it’s about performance; Saleen boasts that it will keep up with all but the fastest Ferraris, although no specifics were forthcoming. Figure on a 0-60 mph time in the low three seconds if one can keep the tires from evaporating at the touch of the throttle.
Alas, everything has its price — though as with the Hellcat, the Black Label is a fairly impressive hp/dollar deal at $73,214 to start, including destination. If orders are placed before the feds finish their environmental paperwork (which could happen by mid-April) Saleen will even pay the estimated $2,600 gas guzzler tax. If even that’s too steep, Saleen’s S302 “Yellow Label” is nearly as powerful (715 hp and 595 lb-ft of torque) but does without some of the exterior fanfare and a few interior and suspension bits at a price of just $53,484. Saleen will also offer all S302s in convertible and glass-roof models, should you want some sun with your fun. With power like that and the legendary Saleen name attached to it, some Hellcats may be in for a declawing.