Hagerty is calling on some of the best digital artists in the world to create cars that never existed. While Khyza put a G-Nose on the 2023 Nissan Z, Abimelec Design did what he does best, a “What If?” in the form of this 1968 Saleen S390.
In case you’re wondering, yes this is a rendering. Saleen was much too young to fight Shelby over who can make the best version of the Mustang. However, both these household names of the pony tuning world started off as race car drivers. The only thing which really sets them apart is the passing of decades.
Steve Saleen’s first car was a little Porsche, handed down by his father. However, he quickly developed a craving for more power, and in 1969, he managed to buy a used Shelby GT350. He was only a kid at the time, which is why the rendering is captioned “Would you buy a high-performance car built by a teenager?”
However, this teenager was quickly turning his hobby into a profession. After winning a SCCA race at Riverside International in 1975. He became a pro racer in the Formula Atlantic series, and in 1982, he jumped over to the SCCA Trans Am series.
The first Saleen Mustang was a Fox Body and came out in 1985. These retro ponies weren’t as powerful as their 1960s counterparts, but Steve counteracted this with new aerodynamics to reduce high-speed lift, Bilstein suspension for better cornering, bespoke 16-inch Enkei wheels and interior mods.
The company was just getting started making cool Fords. In 1989, the now updated Fox Body was transformed into the SSC Mustang. This had upgraded internals, exhaust, and intake to boost the 5.0’s output to 292 horsepower. By 1992, Saleen was making slapping Vortech superchargers pushing power up to 450 hp. That’s more than a Ferrari 512 V12 from that year, so no wonder the word “supercar” got tossed around so much.
However, I grew up in the 1990s and I never took notice of Saleen until the fourth-gen, the SN95 Mustang era. Steve’s cars had their own body kits and livery, and I feel like this 1968 Saleen S390 mustang is based on one of those. This 3D-crafter car just wants to call the Cobra R funny names and make fun of its small V8.
Young Steve Saleen probably would have loved to modify a Mustang in this way back in 1968. The S390 has a full roll cage, a large hood scoop, and some shiny Crager wheels. Some parts are both decorative and functional, like the rear wing, the front spoiler or the custom louvers. And as for power, the S390 is obviously supposed to be based on the GT390. That’s the same as the Bullitt Mustang, and its 390ci V8 would have delivers 325 hp. In the fictional world, Steve is supposed to have upgraded it to a full 400HP via a new cam, tuned intake manifold and exhaust.