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eBay Find: 1988 Saleen Mustang R

By Drew Phillips - June 1, 2012 – 11:12 am2 Comments | 2,313 views

1988 Saleen Mustang R Race Car

Here’s your chance obtain a little bit of Saleen history. Performance Autosport has put a 1988 Saleen Mustang R up for sale on eBay for one of their clients, giving someone the chance to own one of just eight race cars built to race in the SCCA Escort Endurance Series between 1987 and 1989. This particular car is chassis #0019R and competed in eight races in 1988 with Steve Saleen, George Follmer, Tommy Archer and others behind the wheel. The car didn’t win the championship the year, but it did manage to claim six podium finishes and a win at the Mosport 24 Hours. Performance Autosport says the car is mostly in race-ready condition and simply needs a new set of tires and a quick prep before it can go out on track. The asking price? Just $75,000.

You can view the auction on eBay here, or check out a gallery of photos and a full description and history of the car below.

Performance Autosport is proud to present one of the Saleen’s R models were built in Livonia, Michigan, for Saleen ‘s 1988 Race season.

This is a very rare Saleen factory race car with only eight General tire bumble bee cars built in 1987-1989 compared to 26 Shelby R models.

These cars seldom come up for sale, and this is a chance to own part of Ford Mustang and Saleen history. This car was last run at VIR several years ago at the national Shelby convention. It is in great shape but needs new tires and a simple race prep before it is track ready. We can do all the work here at PAS if the new owner wants to use the car at HPDE events.

These were produced from new off the dealer showroom floor with stock Ford Mustangs, 88-0019R, 88-0020R, and 88-0021R (for ’88) and 89-0019R and 89-0020R (for ’89) received the most hidden modifications of all Saleen R-models. After purchasing them from Ford, the race team stripped the Mustang LX bodies and dipped them in acid to remove all paint and undercoating. The factory’s weak spot welds were replaced with a stronger stitch pattern. This “seam sealing” process made the flimsy Fox chassis much firmer without adding weight. The Saleen race cars were used extensively to promote the company’s limited-edition street models. When they weren’t on the track, they were at Ford dealerships and industry shows, making a visible statement about Steve Saleen’s involvement in motorsports competition. Today, every R-model is well documented and accounted for.

Welded rollcages for the 1988 cars further increased chassis stiffness, providing a strong foundation for the suspension tuning. SCCA allowed Saleen to upgrade its wheel/tire package in these years, which is why the cars wore 8.0-inch-wide wheels all around with different offset in front to create a wider stance for better handling. Tires were General XP-2000s with a special “G” (for “gooey”) compound ” technically street rubber, but not really. Tire size was also “improved” because the G model that measured 245/50/16 (front) and 255/50/16 (rear) was actually slightly wider than the same-size street tires. The tires placed on the vehicles were a DOT legal race tire that was very sticky compound. The fenders were stretched and pounded to accommodate the larger tire.

The 1988-’89 race car engines were spectacular pieces of equipment that cost about $10,000 each. Saleen purchased its stock-looking 5.0-liter V-8s from engine builder Dave Dixon. Dixon’s recipe for Mustang power included prototype GT40 heads (ported and shotpeened with stock Ford casting numbers to avoid detection), a high-RPM camshaft, and production Taurus rocker arms with different ratios. At the crankshaft, these serial-numbered powerplants turned out 300 horsepower ” about 260 to 270 at the wheel. (To compare, the stock 5.0-liter Saleen Mustang street car produced 200 to 205 at the wheel.) Engine management computers could not be modified, so Saleen’s crew ran one dyno pull after another with different boxes until a few exceptional performers were found.This car currently does not have a Dixon motor.

Standard Mustang headers received extensive porting for better flow, and the Saleen race cars used Ford Motorsports H-pipes (minus catalytic converters) and DynoMax mufflers.

Transmissions were stock ” but blueprinted ” T-5 five-speeds. Rear axles either used 3.55:1 or 3.27:1 gears, but Saleen had some wiggle room because changing between 245/50 and 255/50 rear tires affected the final ratio for optimum performance.

Speedometers were not active in the R-models, but the tachometers were calibrated to be as accurate as possible to keep drivers out of the 6,800-RPM redline. Bracketry for the rear seat was removed; the cushions were held in place by bungee cords. Because drivers tended to push each other around on the track, Saleen’s aerodynamic pieces were attached with industrial-grade pop rivets.

Although the 1988-’89 R-models did not bring home a championship, they are mechanically the best of the best in terms of performance and endurance.

Race History Chassis # 0019R

SCCA Escort Endurance Series Races Entered

  1. 4/22/88- Sears Point- Steve Saleen and George Follmer- 2nd Place
  2. 6/11/88- Portland- Steve Saleen and Pete Halsmer- 3rd Place
  3. 7/16/88- Brainerd International- Steve Saleen and Kees Nierop- 3rd Place
  4. 8/13/88- Mosport 24 Hours- Steve Saleen, Bobby and Tommy Archer- 1st Place
  5. 8/27/88- Elkhart Lake- Steve Saleen, Pete Halsmer, and Rick Titus- 5th Place
  6. 9/3/88- Road Atlanta- Steve Saleen and George Follmer- 3rd Place
  7. 9/24/88- Mid-Ohio- Steve Saleen, Bobby and Tommy Archer- 2nd Place
  8. 10/29/88- Seabring- Steve Saleen Bobby Archer- 38th Place



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2 Comments »

  • mark dellacqua says:

    At 75K for a 1988 road racer making about 270hp [ wheels ] even with a racing lineage is a hard sell. I don’t know what the magic number is, but it is well south of 75K.

  • Stan oneal says:

    Very rare cars,these are now eligible for vintage racing, great history,I understand their asking prices, if anything might be going up

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