This may well be the most exotics of the exotics – and get this – it’s American, in fact, about as American as a car can get, as the 2006 Saleen S7 is hand built in Irvine, California. Introduced to the world as street-legal in 2002, the S7 got a huge power boost in 2005 with the addition of twin turbos. Those 750 horsepower don’t come cheap, and as such this is a car for the stout-hearted, well-moneyed racer boys and girls among us: a super car that starts with a capital S.
Power and Performance: A twin-turbo, 7.0-liter V8 that makes 750 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 700 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm, the S7 engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The shifter on the S7 has been altered to produce extremely short throws, and the resulting combination is acceleration times that are barely believable: 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, and a top speed of 248 miles per hour.
Why it matters: Consider this: for $1.5 million more, you get about 2 mph. That’s right: the Bugatti Veyron, the “first” street legal car that can go faster than 250 mph – or so they say – uses two V8 engines and four turbochargers. For virtually the same level of performance – and maybe better – the Saleen S7 will cost you just $555,000. What a bargain! Yes, the horsepower of the S7, at 750, is puny compared to the Bugatti Veyron’s 1,000 horsepower plant. But if you’re overcompensating that much, you need a doctor, not a car. As for Saleen S7 buyers, it’s a hell of a car and a hell of an engine, and proof that American Automotive means something special.
Photos courtesy of the automakers. Auto Show photography courtesy of Ron Perry