Saleen has boosted — quite literally — the power of its already PDQ S7 supercar, with the launch of the S7 Twin Turbo.
By adding a pair of Garrett turbochargers, it now boasts a stunning 750bhp at 6,300rpm and 700lb-ft of torque at 4,800rpm. In a car weighing just 1,340Kg, the result is eye-watering performance: 2.8 seconds for zero to 60mph — and we don’t think they’ve measured the top speed yet…
When it went on sale in 2002, the S7 was the only street-legal car in the US with more than 500bhp and 500lb-ft of torque. At the time, it was dubbed by US magazines as the fastest production car in the world. But during the past three years, the automobile marketplace has witnessed an explosion of performance with models from manufacturers including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Chevrolet touting power numbers above the once magic 500 level.
The turbocharging of the S7 is the car’s first major change, although aerodynamics have also come under scrutiny for 2005. Unless you place the new S7 Twin Turbo next to one of the original 2002 models, you probably won’t notice that the 2005 version has a different diffuser/rear spoiler package and reshaped front bumpers. The S7 chassis has also undergone a fair amount of tweaking, with almost every suspension pickup point changed. The suspension geometry has been modified too, for less squat and dive during acceleration and braking.
Engine and drive train Saleen reckoned that the S7’s engine and drive train incorporate the latest in modern racing technology. The new all-aluminium V8 engine casting was engineered and tooled by Saleen to displace seven litres with a redline of 6,500rpm. Space age materials and engineering are used throughout, including stainless steel valves, titanium retainers, beryllium exhaust valve seats, aluminium throttle body and CNC-machined cylinder heads, and a stainless steel exhaust system.
The compact V8 incorporates a Saleen-designed side-mounted water pump, a belt-driven camshaft drive and dry sump oil delivery system. The engine’s mid-chassis placement both optimises weight distribution and centre of gravity, and makes room for an unusually tall engine that allows for a very efficient induction system. Air enters a roof intake, passes through a 90-mm mass air meter and feeds into a carbon fibre plenum. From the plenum the air is routed to the twin ball bearing turbos, is pressurised to 5.5psi max and then passes through an oval-bore throttle body into an aluminium intake manifold with eight individual runners.
To feed juice to this setup, the injection system includes dual electric fuel pumps and high-capacity, return-less, 52 lb/hr fuel injectors. Engineered into the S7’s stainless steel, dual, high-flow exhaust system are two, twin-ball-bearing, water-cooled Saleen-Garrett turbos, featuring 44-mm waste-gates. The four exhaust pipes from each bank of cylinders merge into a race-car-like high-efficiency collector. In addition, the exhaust incorporates dual catalysts per cylinder bank. And because Saleen believes in power and clean air, the emission control system features dual, heated oxygen sensors per cylinder bank and a high-volume evaporative emission system along with those four catalysts.
Saleen also said the stroke of the already short-stroke shifter has been furthered shortened for improved shifting feel.
Chassis, suspension and brakes The Saleen S7 architecture begins with a race-experience influenced, spaceframe chassis to which honeycomb composite reinforcing is grafted. The body is structural, aerospace-quality, autoclave carbon fibre.
Suspension is via fully independent unequal-length double wishbones with coil-over springs, lightweight aluminium dampers and anti-roll bars front and rear. The uprights at each corner are CNC-machined billet aluminium, flow-through designs that use air to help cool the bearings.
Chassis tuning also includes revised shock valving front and rear. Brembo lightweight aluminium six-piston mono-block calipers are fitted front and rear.
Geometry changes, along with new tyres, result in about a massive 30 per cent increase in mechanical grip. Yet the 2005 car is fitted with taller tyres, 275/35 R19s up front and 335/30 R20s at the rear, replacing the 275/30 R19s and 345/25 R20s fitted to the normally aspirated S7. While the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires have higher aspect ratios, they also lay tyre patches that are nearly an inch wider up front and almost 1.5 inches wider at the rear.
Exterior and interior The S7’s shape was derived from wind tunnel work, with targets including a low coefficient of drag, optimum drag-to-lift ratio, and extreme downforce. The S7 has full-tray body sculpting underneath.
For the 2005 S7 Twin Turbo, the redesigned front and rear diffusers, along with the new rear spoiler, result in a 40 percent reduction in aero drag and a 60 per cent increase in down force — very cunning.
The S7 has front and rear trunks and comes with Mulholland Brothers custom-made, three-piece, fitted luggage. In true supercar style, the doors open up and away from the body.
Seats and other interior surfaces are covered in elegant leather and suede. Air conditioning, power windows, power door locks with remote keyless opening for the doors and both trunks, an electric-headed front windscreen, variable intermittent wipers, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an AM/FM/CD/DVD/TV system are all standard. The Saleen S7 also has one unique interior feature: a video camera instead of a rear view mirror.
And the price? Almost churlish to mention the mere $555,000 (£317,200) it will set you back.
La nuova supercar americana Saleen S7 sarà esposta in anteprima europea nella inedita versione biturbo al Top Marques, il più esclusivo salone del mondo, che ha aperti i battenti ieri a Montecarlo. Una vetrina dove trovano spazio solo nomi del calibro di Ferrari e Bentley, Aston Martin e Lamborghini, e appunto la californiana Saleen. La presenza sulle nostre strade di questa splendida sportiva due posti è tutta italiana. Si deve infatti all’importazione e distribuzione esclusiva per l’Europa della DR Automobiles Groupe, una intraprendente azienda molisana che ha sede a Macchia d’Isernia.
Costruita a Irvine, in California, per la passione di un ex pilota, l’ultimo bolide dell’azienda USA sviluppa una potenza di 750 CV (dai 600 della precedente S7) e presenta importanti novità sotto il profilo aerodinamico. Il profilo posteriore dell’estrattore d’aria è infatti cambiato e sul lunotto posteriore ci sono adesso due aperture che permettono una maggiore ventilazione del motore. Il motore è un V8 di 7.000 cmc capace di prestazioni dinamiche mozzafiato, come i 2,9 secondi per scattare da 0 a 100 km/h e i 360 km/h di velocità massima. Rinnovato anche l’abitacolo di questa due posti, con la plancia e i comandi ridisegnati secondo suggerimenti della divisione ingegneristica della DR. Al Top Marques monegasco la Saleen espone anche l’agonistica S7R color blu e argento che domenica scorsa ha gareggiato a Misano Adriatico in una tappa del Campionato Italiano GT.
Alla Saleen il mercato USA sembra piccolo, come le 5 mila auto che produce ogni anno. Sta quindi cercando altri mercati di approdo. Saleen è una specie di Drake all’americana che si costruisce le sue vetture dal primo all’ultimo bullone, senza attingere a nessun altro gruppo automobilistico. A dire il vero, Saleen ha firmato in passato delle versioni speciali di Ford Mustang ed è probabile che in futuro alla S7 si affiancherà un modello più abbordabile, ma nel frattempo il sogno americano del bolide da pista trasferito su strada è già oggi realtà.