There could be no stopping Saleen Automotive from returning to its business of building sports cars after nearly a decade since ending the production of the Saleen S7 supercar. This was confirmed by the company itself when it unveiled the new Saleen S1 sports coupe at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Saleen developed the Saleen S1 in-house to have more control over its engineering. The result is a new sports car underpinned by an aluminum chassis and housed in a carbon fiber body. The employment of these light yet strong materials allowed the new Saleen S1 to weigh just 2,685 pounds (1,218 kilograms).
According to company founder Steve Saleen, they designed the bodywork with aerodynamic function as the primary consideration, and in the process gave the new S1 elegant curves and an upswept tail. The design of the new Saleen S1 is marked by 20-inch wheels shod in Continental ExtremeContact Sport tires, massive brakes as well as center-exit exhausts. Saleen says that partly thanks to these tires, the S1 could pull 1.2 g of cornering grip on a skidpad.
Serving as the core of the new Saleen S1 is an internally developed 2.5-liter turbocharged in-line four engine that could deliver 450 hp (336 kW) of max output and 350 lb.-ft. (474 Nm) of peak torque. With this, the Saleen S1 could accelerate from zero to 60 mph in only 3.5 seconds and reach a quarter-mile in 11.3 seconds. Top speed is pegged at 180 mph (290 km/h). Power is sent to the wheels through a six-speed manual transmission, although a paddle-shifter dual-clutch option could be available in the future.
Meanwhile, the cabin of the Saleen S1 reveals a three-spoke steering wheel and simple dashboard with a digital instrument cluster as well as a secondary infotainment system on the center stack.
Saleen has commenced accepting orders for the new 2018 Saleen S1 with a price tag of $100,000, for just a deposit of $1,000. The first customers are set to take deliveries of their units in late summer 2018. The company founder remarked that by making the S1 more affordable, they could produce and sell more units. Steve Saleen expects to produce between 1,500 and 2,000 examples of the S1 annually for the United States. A similar number will be produced for Europe and a “substantial” number will be built for China. The company founder is seeking to have 50 showrooms initially in the US.
The new Saleen S1 will be built by Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technology Co., a China-based joint venture between Saleen and its Chinese manufacturing partner. The joint venture is set to commence production of the Saleen S1 at its assembly site in Rugao, China. Jiangsu has already injected around $2.68 billion to prepare the site for the production of the Saleen S1.
While the Rugao site is set to have an annual production capacity of 150,000 cars when it opens in 2018, not all of this capacity will be allotted for the Saleen S1 as Jiangsu Saleen has plans to build passenger cars like sedans, sport utility vehicles and crossovers.