By on July 18, 2016

saleen mustang

Two U.S. Ford dealerships are beyond frustrated with Saleen Automotive after the performance sportscar manufacturer failed to deliver its signature modified Mustangs on time.

According to Automotive News, Red McCombs Ford of San Antonio filed a lawsuit alleging breach of contract and fraud after the three Saleen Mustangs it ordered arrived six months late missing $22,000 in modifications. Friendship Ford of Bristol, Tennessee hasn’t received a Saleen Mustang it ordered over a year ago.

The situation calls into question Saleen’s financial situation and its ability to deliver product on time. Saleen has lost about $30 million since incorporating in 2011, and is low on cash. Regulatory filings show the California-based company has limited assets and steep liabilities. It also owed over $400,000 in past-due rent as of the end of March.

The San Antonio dealership tried, and failed, to recoup the money it lost on the Mustang order, forcing it to go the legal route. As for the Tennessee dealer, it just wants to find its missing Mustang. The vehicle was supposed to be shipped by the end of last year, and although Saleen says it was shipped in early June, there’s been no sign of it in Bristol.

“I don’t know where the car is. I don’t have a clue,” said Friendship Ford general manager Denny Fruth told Automotive News. “Every month this year, it’s been another story. I actually thought about jumping on an airplane to L.A. and walking in the shop to see if it’s in there.”

When questioned by the publication, company founder and CEO Steve Saleen said demand for his modified version of the current generation Mustang is “unbelievable,” and he hadn’t heard of the lawsuit. When told of it, Saleen called the suit “a little frivolous,” adding that his company is still a startup, and the current Mustang is still relatively new.

The continued demand for Saleen products proves that the company is doing something right, Saleen said, though he admitted the company needs to find more capital.

[Image: Saleen]

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39 Comments on “Saleen, Already on Shaky Financial Ground, Sued for Failing to Deliver...”


  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    If the CEO does NOT know about a legal action which I find hard to believe, and goes straight into attacking said legal action he ‘doesn’t know about’ instead of saying… “what? I will look right into this immediately and contact the customer.” .. pull your money. that’s some shady crap right there.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Has Saleen lost his mind? His company is hit with a lawsuit over a missing car, and he doesn’t know about it? Maybe the final end of Saleen is near. They have competition from Roush, which apparently isn’t having trouble delivering cars. Also, the new Mustang is so good, especially the GT, that I can’t see how there’s a big market for modified Mustangs anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I don’t know how Roush is doing so well, but I’ve seen a fair number of Roush Mustangs. The Stage 3 seems like a riot.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Speaking of Roush, there is a dealership here in Oklahoma City, Bob Moore Ford, that I swear is a dumping ground for Roush Mustangs. The majority of their Mustang inventory, last I checked, were Roush units. I was amazed.

      Even going to their site just now, by my count 19 of the 36 available Mustangs are Roush units (and there are supposedly a couple of GT350s, though I suspect they’re already spoken for). And yet, I never see Roushes driving around town. Who is buying them? Or are they selling them to other dealers?

    • 0 avatar
      maxxcool7421

      I could overlook the ignorance to the legal action, maybe the legal team operates on their own when it comes to single complainant actions.. However going right into attacking the legal action and not dropping everything to call the guy and reclaim customer confidence is where the issue comes up for me.

      Smacks of ego and complete lack of care, if I were shipping boutique cars in LOW volume I would have a follow-up call to ensure the car was delivered, and obviously make sure the unit was SINGED for. Since obviously NONE of these things are were done.. and his reaction on he record… shady BS right there.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      The factory SE’s have probably hit the Mustang aftermarket tuners pretty hard but there will always be somebody out there looking for exclusivity and enough of a difference in appearance that they stand apart. Anecdotally it looks like most of what I see are the “stage 1” cars which primarily offer an appearance change and some sizzle on the steak in the form of cold air (honestly noisy intake systems as they tend to ignore the cold air part of the description) and more aggressive exhaust.

      Roush does pretty good for the reasons stated – tuner that has deep links in the auto industry and as engineering and development business.

      Saleen seems to have lost its way especially after that whole debacle involving private equity guys (the lesson to me at least is to avoid those guys like the plague as they have the same level of passion for cars as your average slab of dead meat in a supermarket cooler even if they arrive at the back door with a dump truck full of money). Compounded by the fact that Saleen just doesn’t have the same level of technical proficiency as Roush and the industry connections.

      And off reply, I kinda like how Saleen accentuates the B-pillar on the S550 Mustang. I thought Ford should have kept this detail rather than try and fake the pillarless side window.

      That little quarter window was nicknamed the Dorito for its shape and traces its heritage all the way back to the 66 Shelby GT350 and IMO essentially Mustang DNA – to bad Ford abandoned it.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    I was washing the wife’s car yesterday when a Roush F-150 came through; did not know Roush was modifying F-150s as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Indeed. I’ve also seen the same bright-blue 2016 Shelby F-150; I didn’t know there was such a thing, but there is.

      http://mms.businesswire.com/media/20151103006598/en/494480/5/SAI_0874_(1).jpg

  • avatar

    How sad. And I’m a Chevy guy. But a Chevy guy who’s been inside the hallowed halls of what used to be Don Yenko Chevrolet (now Sun Chevrolet, McMurray PA. If anyone cares, Don’s family ran Yenko Honda for a couple of decades after giving up the Chevy franchise, but even that’s under different ownership now, as South Hills Honda. And a different party altogether manages the Yenko brand and trademarks from another state.)

    With all that said, I appreciate the touches such aftermarket tuners have put on their cars. “Saleen Mustang” is right up there with Shelby and Roush in the minds of some. It’s a shame they’re having trouble but that kind of a response from a CEO sends up a whole parade of red flags.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Saleens were a smash hit, due to Mustangs sucking so bad in the ’80s and ’90s. With simple, very effective upgrades, pimp styling, supercharger and a factory warranty, how could they miss? There were other tuners, but nothing else compared.

    Really sad to see the company unravel though, but there’s not much they can do to Mustangs with all the factory, performance options. The ’03/’04 “Termi” Cobras had to take there toll on Saleens, followed by the GT500/Shelby/KRs.

    Now how can Saleen top the Lebanon/Roush 727 hp Mustangs?

    • 0 avatar
      DevilsRotary86

      “but there’s not much they can do to Mustangs with all the factory, performance options.”

      Normally that’s correct, but Ford really left some low hanging fruit on the Ecoboost Mustangs. Not that Saleen will be around much longer, but that could have been a good direction. Give us the SVO that Ford won’t.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Plucking said low hanging fruit comes at a steep price…. not worth it IMO.

        Ford really screwed the pooch by not making the V6 the midlevel engine option.

        • 0 avatar
          DevilsRotary86

          I respectfully disagree. I really like the turbo engine and at this point I don’t think I would prefer the V6 over it. However, there were some decisions with the inline 4 that I struggle to understand. Now, I am an electrical engineer by trade and am not a mechanical engineer with any experience with powertrain products. Still, some of the choices were odd. For example, the intercooler design.

          There was a really good thread about it on Mustang6g a month ago, where a member interviewed his Auto Engineering Professor on the design. That thread is here:

          http://www.mustang6g.com/forums/showthread.php?t=56367

          The Cliff’s Notes summary is that with a better intercooler, tweaked downpipe, and a slightly larger turbo the Ecoboost could make power close to the GT. MAP sells these pieces in a kit for about $4500.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Well, there’s your issue. Why would Ford want to step on the toes of the GT, which costs considerably more?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “The Cliff’s Notes summary is that with a better intercooler, tweaked downpipe, and a slightly larger turbo the Ecoboost could make power close to the GT. ”

            there’s this thing called “market segmentation.” Why on earth would they try to match the GT’s power levels?

            and that guy’s professor sounds like a bloviating know-it-all jacka**.

          • 0 avatar
            DevilsRotary86

            “Well, there’s your issue. Why would Ford want to step on the toes of the GT, which costs considerably more?”

            They wouldn’t. But keep in mind, the original article is about a failing tuner. And this particular thread started with the idea that it’s getting harder for tuners to improve upon factory designs.

            While I do agree with that point, there are still niches out there that could be filled. Such as for example an unofficial Mustang SVO. If a shop were to offer something like that, I would actually be tempted.

          • 0 avatar
            DevilsRotary86

            “and that guy’s professor sounds like a bloviating know-it-all jacka**.”

            He does sound right on a lot of points though. And note he doesn’t really think they did a bad job. “He doesn’t think the ford engineers are clueless, quite the opposite actually, he thinks they did so good a job on the ecoboost that management made them castrate it.” The bargain basement ‘barely fit for JC Whitney and eBay’ intercooler in particular is troubling.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “The bargain basement ‘barely fit for JC Whitney and eBay’ intercooler in particular is troubling.”

            it’s hyperbolic insults like this which make him sound like an arrogant p***k. that intercooler is made the same way as the radiator and heater cores in almost every car, and if that type of assembly can withstand constant 20+ psi of 220° coolant, it can handle some air pressure.

            the complaints about the shape of the inlet and outlet are valid, but it’s good enough so they could hit the performance targets.

          • 0 avatar
            ElAntonius

            I am an engineer, although not a mechanical engineer, and honestly I have to say that it’s obvious that the professor in question does not understand how engineering in a large company works.

            Ford set out performance targets for the unit. It met those targets (this is self evident as Ford saw fit to release the unit). There’s no grand conspiracy here, no magic “protection” of the V8.

            The simple reality is that engineering is not “make the best thing possible”. It’s “meet the designated target, at the lowest possible cost, hopefully with what we have sitting on the shelf right over there”.

            The 2.3L EB engine is not the Voodoo. It’s not a fantasy, one-off engine seeing use in a dedicated performance application. It’s a reuse engine that has to meet the performance profile of an entry-mid level Mustang, while also meeting the performance profile of the “cheap” version of a Ford Explorer.

            Could Ford make a 400hp Ecoboost SVO? Probably. But, amazingly, it probably wouldn’t have better gas mileage than the V8, it probably wouldn’t be significantly cheaper, and at the 30k+ price point I suspect the market overall would reward a V8.

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            @ Kyree

            “Well, there’s your issue. Why would Ford want to step on the toes of the GT, which costs considerably more?”

            Indeed and the actual cost to Ford is probably not all that different given how comparatively “low-tech” the 5.0 is but the profit margin is probably greater.

            Also I suspect a 425hp EcoBoost Mustang starts to deviate heavily from the EcoBoost mission.

            Even with all the doo-dads on the EcoBoost that allow it to operate at a bit higher compression compared to less modern forced induction designs as boost climbs so does the fuel requirement not only to support that power but also to help keep the engine from melting down so it probably ends up as thirsty or more so compared to the V8 when driven like a Mustang should.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    If I wanted to hop up a Mustang for 22 grand, and couldn’t do it myself, I think I’d pick Roush over Saleen by about 100 to 1 factor when it comes to credibility of the organization.

  • avatar
    Bazza

    I’m not going to state outright that Saleen is “pulling a Hennessey”, but Steve’s dissembling concerning his legal/financial woes veers uncomfortably into that territory…

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Those dealers should just contract with a responsible company to modify their cars, like Vector.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I didn’t even know Saleen was still in business. Perhaps they and Hennessy can go out of business together. Con artists…

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Even as bad as things look Saleen still has a way to fall before they can go shoulder to shoulder with Hennessey. That operation has been shady for as long as I can remember (the mid to late 90’s as I recall).

      Saleen was pretty tight until he sold his company to a bunch of rich guys looking to spend some money and zero knowledge of the business and I suppose thought they were savy enough to turn a profit and make cool cars but found out its a low margin business that requires some very specific expertise. Especially when your trying to turn out a top-notch product. Those big money guys then proceeded to run Saleen into the ground and the name along with it.

      I suspect Steve Saleen just doesn’t want to face the writing on the wall. Saleen’s glory years are well behind it and should just retire the company while it has something of a reputation left.


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