Sometimes bad luck for one person turns out to be good circumstance for someone else. That turned out to be the case for Ric Kolb when he came across this mint '91 Saleen ragtop on a used car lot in the Seattle area.
"A woman bought a new '88 Saleen convertible," he tells us, "and during her ownership had several problems with the car, which finally lead Ford to taking the car back as a lemon and providing this '91 to replace it." We say unlucky because the original owner of this car probably didn't really get to the chance to enjoy it in the way she could have after being understandably disappointed with the first car. So when Ric got it-with only 13,000 miles on the ticker-the real enjoyment of Saleen ownership began.
Since most Fox-body Saleens had stock drivetrains, Ric's first order of business was to make the heavier convertible Fox-body's step a little livelier. A full menu of time-honored but effective mods were made to the 5.0 short-block, in the interest of consistent, naturally aspirated power for the 300-500 miles of open-track activity that Ric likes to partake of on an annual basis.
Starting where the air goes into the engine, Ric added a Moroso cold-air kit equipped with a K&N filter. A Granatelli Motorsports 75mm mass-air meter leads to an FRPP 65mm throttle-body and an Explorer upper intake paired with a GT-40 lower. Twenty-four lb/hr fuel injectors, an Aeromotive fuel-pressure regulator, and a 155-lph fuel pump meet additional fuel needs. Deeper into the motor, Ric went with a pair of thoroughly ported cast-iron GT-40 cylinder heads equipped with 1.7:1 Cobra roller rockers. Attached to the heads are Bassani equal-length shorty headers and a Bassani 211/42-inch X-pipe with high-flow catalytic converters.
We found this list of upgrades to be rather impressive as we had the chance to ride shotgun with Ric one afternoon during one of our Pony Trail ride-and-drives during the 2001 Mustang Roundup in Bellevue, Washington. In fact, it'd be a great combo for any Fox 5.0 (the only thing we might substitute are lighter aluminum heads for the cast iron ones) since Ric reports nice dyno numbers for this well-rounded street car.
"My goals were to make about 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque at the wheels," Ric said. "I'm very happy with the results since I enjoy the traditional methods of trying to make good naturally aspirated power-especially in a car that I occasionally use for open-track activity." He's right on the money with 295 horsepower at the rear wheels at 5,000 rpm. Torque is even more impressive for this stock-stroke 5.0 with 339 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm going through the T5 trans and 3.55-geared 8.8.
While all Saleens handle well out of the gate, any Fox-body Mustang can use some help-especially a convertible. To that end, Ric has added Global West subframe connectors, a Kenny Brown G-load brace, Maximum Motorsports lower control arms and boxed uppers, a Baer Racing bump steer kit, and an updated brake-pad compound for the open-track work. The 16x8-inch Saleen "basket"-style wheels are home to 245/45ZR16 tires at each corner.
In addition to all the good stuff about Ric's ride, he also reports it's something of a rare one as only 92 Saleens were built in 1991 along with 9 SC versions. Of those, a mere 30 were convertibles and only 9 of those were white. It's clearly a dream Saleen in the best way we can imagine.