2010 Saleen S5S Raptor - Sneak Preview 2008

We got our first glimpse at this bird of prey during this year's New York auto show. A target MSRP of $185,000 was mentioned, the words "American Ferrari" were tossed around, and it was made very clear to us that series production is a distinct possibility.

Unlike the Ford Mustang-based creations that Saleen is best known for, the two-seat, aluminum-monocoque car you see here is all-new - and all Saleen - from the ground up. Saleen admits that Chaparral and McLaren were styling influences for the car; we can see a bit of Lotus in the front fender peaks, too.

The mid-mounted, 5.0-liter supercharged engine is a version of Saleen's massively reworked Ford V-8. It runs on E85 ethanol here, which allows it to produce more power than the similar V-8 found in Saleen's Sterling Edition S302E Mustang. (The S5S churns out an earthshaking 650 hp at 6300 rpm; torque peaks at 630 lb-ft at 4400 rpm.) By Saleen's estimates, the car should be good for a sprint to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of more than 200 mph. A six-speed manual transmission handles gearchanges for the concept, but we wouldn't be surprised to see a sequential, paddleshifted gearbox as an option if the S5S sees production.

As on its last supercar, the S7, the suspension is fully independent and composed of twin wishbone-shaped control arms at each corner. The S7 does without electronic nannies, but the New York show's S5S concept sported twenty-inch wheels along with ABS, traction control, and stability control.

Saleen is targeting the Ferrari F430 in both size and price, and there's no arguing that the S5S offers class-leading levels of power. While the $650,000 S7 is a streetable race car devoid of most creature comforts, the S5S will have a more passenger-friendly cabin. This should mean easier ingress and egress and less cabin noise - the S7's straight-off-the-Mulsanne cockpit is infamous - making for more comfortable long-distance jaunts.

IT'S NOT A MID-ENGINE CORVETTE, BUT IT'S CLOSE: Saleen's S7 is nothing short of a track-only rocket, a four-wheeled hunk of canned lightning that is more than a little ridiculous for public roads. The S5S aims to be a more practical, more usable version of the same idea, with little decrease in insanity but a huge reduction in price. We're stoked.

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