Over thundering exhaust noise, I can almost hear Steve Saleen talking loudly behind my right shoulder. With his hands clenching my headrest, he’s probably explaining how it is that I’ve just accelerated to 100 mph before realizing I had so much as pushed the pedal. In a 5500-pound pickup truck.
A twin-screw supercharger and twin intercoolers have endowed Ford’s otherwise unremarkable 5.4-liter V-8 with the additional 150 hp necessary to take the Saleen S331 Supercharged to more than 130 mph. But in this era of mega-horsepower, anything with four wheels can be made to go fast. Can this remade Ford F-150 handle?
As the road narrows, trees form a green canopy over a series of chicanes. Hurtling beneath it, the big truck reveals itself to be more than an unguided missile. I’m flung from one side of the plus-size driver’s seat to the other, and there’s no sign of the coffee that was nestled in the armrest a minute ago. But to my amazement, the enormous truck is holding the line, thanks to a year’s worth of suspension development and massive 305/40VR-23 Bridgestone rubber. Still, a quicker steering rack, a smaller steering wheel, and some real bucket seats would help mask the S331’s agrarian roots. Stopping power is great, however: the fifteen-inch, six-piston front brakes might look small behind the twenty-three-inch wheels, but they are the same units found on the S7 supercar.
It’s been a fun ride, but as I wipe the coffee off the passenger window and the roof liner, I’m unable to discern the purpose of an automotive exercise like this. Are there people who want to tow their boats that fast?