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BULLET 'TRAIN

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Oct 10, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

BULLET 'TRAIN By Harvey Schwartz

The Saleen S7 two-seat sports car was introduced five years ago as America's first world-class super car powered by a 7.0 liter V8 engine generating 580 horsepower. Today that is not enough power to qualify as a true, world-class super car. So Steve Saleen decided to add a twin-turbocharging system to the V8 engine that boosts horsepower to 750, enabling the S7 Twin-Turbo to accelerate to 60 mph from a standstill in just 2.8 seconds and blistering the quarter mile in 10.5 seconds at 145 mph. That's fast - very, very fast!

The race-tuned version of the S7, the S7R, has been on the pole and has set fastest race lap more than fifty times. The S7R has won more than forty races around the world and has captured eight different professional championships. Power on board is only part of the supercar equation, as the S7 twin-turbo looks and handles like a supercar, yet is refined and luxurious on the inside. The Saleen S7 Twin-Turbo is hand-assembled at the Saleen factory in Irvine, California, and takes about four weeks to complete. Over the past five years, Saleen has delivered about 80 S7s to owners throughout the world. The S7's long, sleek, and sexy lines scream super car and all of those air-intakes can mean only one thing - a big, very powerful engine lies just behind the cabin.

Up front are angular cat's-eye headlamp clusters, large air-intakes for engine cooling, intakes to cool the front brakes, and to ventilate the passenger cabin. A deep air dam with an integrated splitter increases down force, and a centered, roof-mounted intake channels air directly to the engine. From the side are large gill-slits to further channel air to cool the engine and to cool the rear brakes. At the rear is a wide, flat spoiler to increase down force, two large openings at the sides to exit the heat buildup from the brakes, round tail lamps, a wide lower diffuser in the middle to more smoothly channel the air under the car, and four, four-inch round exhaust pipes surrounding the license plate - two per side. The S7 rides on giant 9.5 x 19 front and 12 x 20 rear Saleen forged alloy wheels with center-locking wheel nuts with automatic safety locks. These lightweight wheels are wrapped with high performance Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires, 275/30ZR19 up front and 335/30ZR20 tires in the rear. These tires make easy work of keeping the power down on the pavement. Ground clearance is a racecar low four inches.

The stiff and torsional chassis is made of 4130 lightweight steel space frame with honeycomb composite panels to keep weight as low as possible. The S7 twin-turbo weighs 2,950 pounds, contributing to its super car acceleration and handling. Generating 750 horsepower at 6,300 rpm, and 700 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm is the Saleen-designed, seven-liter (427 cubic inch) all-aluminum, two-valve pushrod V8 engine with a 4.125 x 4.00-inch (104.8 x 101.6mm) bore and stroke. The compression ratio is set at 11.0:1. The pistons are forged aluminum, the connecting rods are 4340 forged billet steel as is the crankshaft. As air enters the center roof intake, it passes through a 90 mm mass air sensor, feeding a carbon fiber plenum. From the plenum, air is routed to twin-ball-bearing turbos, then passes through an oval bore-throttle body into an aluminum intake manifold with eight individual runners. The cylinder heads are CNC machined, all-aluminum, Saleen high-flow. The valves are stainless steel with titanium retainers with intake set at 2.125 inches (54 mm) and the exhaust set at 1.625 inches (41.3 mm), and using Beryllium exhaust seats.

The unique quad-exhaust system features stainless steel high-flow with a merge collector incorporating dual catalysts per cylinder bank and an EGR system, including two twin-ball-bearing turbos with 44 mm waste gates. The sound heard outside of the S7 when the mighty 427 V8 engine starts up is a growling sensation. Your pulse quickly rises as you anticipate the hard thrust of the torque on your seatback. The front engine accessory drive system features a compact drive system with a side-mounted water pump. Fuel is delivered to the 8-cylinders via a high-capacity returnless electronic system with 42 pounds per hour injectors. The oil system is a high-vacuum dry sump configuration with a 12.6-quart capacity.

The cooling system features a carbon fiber front intake feeding twin front-mounted aluminum water radiators with ECU controlled electric cooling fans and an oil-to-water exchanger. All of the electronics are taken care of by a Saleen PowerFlash control system computer with an integrated coil-on-plug ignition system. Power and torque is transferred to the rear wheels via a longitudinal mounted six-speed all- synchromesh transmission designed by Saleen, and featuring a limited slip differential, light-weight inboard and outboard tri-pod joints with high-torque steel half-shafts. The clutch is an organic/metallic eight-inch twin disc with hydraulic actuation. It is firm enough to transfer the monstrous amounts of torque yet non-fatiguing to operate. Power comes on instantly, increasing as you quickly reach redline, to rocket you out to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds, and (if you have the appropriate track conditions available) all the way up to the 248 mph terminal velocity.

Wow! That's fast - very, very fast! The unique, fully independent suspension enables the S7 Twin-Turbo to pull 1.1 Gs on the skidpan and blast through a 600-foot slalom at 73 mph. This race-bred suspension system features unequal-length double wishbones, lightweight aluminum dampers with coil-over springs, a stabilizer bars and CNC machined billet aluminum flow-through uprights up front and in the rear. Reaction time and change of direction is almost instantaneous, as just a slight move of right foot, or your wrist on the racecar-styled, leather wrapped/tilt/telescope steering wheel changes the direction of the S7. Dialed in for a neutral feel you'll quickly learn how to control your speed and direction as the miles quickly add up. The sport-tuned suspension is firm, yet does a good job of evening out the bumps when traveling over poorly paved roads. The S7 Twin-Turbo is a thrill to drive, but you must keep all of your concentration at the task at hand keeping control of one of the fastest street-legal super sports cars in the world.

Quickly slowing the S7 down from high-speeds are huge, 15-inch front vented, and 14-inch rear-vented rotors. These rotors are clamped by Saleen-engineered/Brembo-supplied, lightweight aluminum, six-piston monoblock calipers using lightweight aluminum disc mounting bells at each wheel. All of this world-class power and performance wouldn't be worth much if you weren't sitting in a cockpit that is comfortable, luxurious and safe. Ease of entry and exit is through the easy-to-operate scissor-style doors. Inside are multi-tone leather/suede custom fitted bucket seats that are very comfortable and very supportive. The interior also features aluminum and color accents, plus the entire headliner and windshield pillars are wrapped with alcantara leather that gives the interior a very special luxury look and feel. To keep the mighty roar of the engine from reaching the cabin is a full array of acoustic and sound deadening materials. Standard comfort and convenience features include a high-volume flow-through ventilation system with air-conditioning, a rearview video camera with an interior LCD display, a 240 mph speedometer and central-mounted 8,000 rpm tachometer, power windows, power door locks with central locking system, keyless remote for door and front and rear trunks, push-button engine start/stop, thick-cut signature S7 floor mats, variable-speed intermittent wipers/washers, electric heated front windshield, remote engine hatch/fuel-filler door releases, AM/FM/DVD/TV systems, and acoustic sound deadening material surrounding the cabin. The front and rear trunks feature custom built and fitted 3-piece luggage set from Mulholland Brothers.

The only options are polished wheels and a navigation system. If 750 horsepower is not enough for you, Saleen has two aftermarket upgrades: An 850-horsepower and 1,000-horsepower options that negate the street-legal status and are for 'on track' use only. Exterior features not mentioned above include dual, power side door mirrors, projector beam headlamps, heat-rejecting tinted glass, and autoclave carbon fiber body panels. The advanced wind-tunnel-developed aerodynamics include integrated split-channel airflow throughout the car as well as full underside aerodynamics with an advanced design front tray, side skirts, and an integrated full-body-width rear spoiler. Keeping you safe in the event of a front, side or rear impact is an integrated roll protection system, aluminum honeycomb impact absorbing body panels, three-point seat belts with automatic seatbelt pretensioners, carbon fiber rocker panels and doors, and an aluminum honeycomb front crush structure that is integrated with rear crumple zones. The 19-gallon gas tank is positioned in the center and the fuel-filler door is on the passenger side.

The S7 Twin-Turbo is designed to compete with the fastest, quickest, best handling, most luxurious grand touring sports cars in the world, while providing a distinctly American driving experience for the fortunate few who will own one. The Saleen S7 Twin-Turbo doesn't disappoint! The price, $580,000.00, is steep but it's worth every dollar to enjoy a world-class, thrill-of-a-lifetime sports car ride, while wrapped in a cabin featuring the latest in comfort, convenience and safety. Saleen provides you with a two-year, unlimited warranty. These cars are a rare sight on the road, and to be behind the wheel of one is something that only a few will ever experience. © Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz

SUMMARY JUDGMENT Saleen has succeeded in developing a powertrain-chassis combination that's faster than the proverbial bullet and more powerful than an L.A. Metrolink train. For more information about Saleen products, go to saleen.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2008 Saleen S7 Twin-Turbo Price: $580,000.00 Engine type: all-aluminum V8, 2-valve pushrod 7.0 liters, twin-ball bearing superchargers/intercoolers Horsepower: 750 at 6,300 rpm Torque: 700 pound-feet at 4,800 rpm EPA mileage estimates: N/A Drive configuration: Mid-engine/rear wheel drive Transmission type: Six-speed manual, short-throw transmission with a limited slip differential, high-torque capacity steel halfshafts, organic/metallic 8in. twin-disc clutch Front suspension: Unequal-length double wishbones with lightweight aluminum dampers with coil-over springs and stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Unequal-length double wishbones with lightweight aluminum dampers with coil-over springs and stabilizer bar Wheels/tires: Front: 19 x 9.5 Saleen forged alloy wheels with center locking wheel nuts with automatic safety locks, 275/30ZR19in. Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 Rear: 20 x 12 Saleen forged alloy wheels with center locking wheel nuts with automatic safety locks, 335/30ZR20 Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 Brakes: Front: Saleen engineered/Brembo supplied 15-inch vented discs with lightweight aluminum six-piston monoblock calipers Rear: Saleen engineered/Brembo supplied 14-inch vented discs with lightweight aluminum six-piston monoblock calipers Overall length: 187.9 inches Overall width: 78.3 inches Overall height: 40.9 inches Curb weight: 2,950 pounds Performance 0-60 mph: 2.8 seconds Standing quarter-mile: 10.5 seconds at 145 mph Top speed: 248 mph (drag limited)

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