Welcome to the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a feature in which I try and convince that Limited Edition Sport Utility Vehicles can be thought of as a Muscle Car, and to try and back up that premise with facts, figures and pretty pictures. Well, there was one other SUV that I tried to convince you is a Muscle car, and that was the wierd and wonderful Hummer H3 Alpha, with a 5.7L V-8 under the hood… but you guys didn’t buy into that notion, and the Hummer went on to a resounding NO when trying to gain entry into the Obscure Muscle Car Garage. Surely an SUV sporting a nameplate of one of the most prolific Muscle Car Builders of our time could be thought of as an Obscure Muscle Car, so let’s see if I’m right, or if I’m completely out of my mind… Information on the Saleen XP8 has been rather difficult to come by (this is probably the hardest Obscure Muscle Car Posting I have done to date) but there is a surprisingly detailed entry from Wikipedia, and whenever I find information there, I will use blockquotes, for instance:
The Saleen XP8 is a performance sport utility vehicle based on the Ford Explorer created by Saleen during the years 1998-2001. The Saleen XP8 comes in two wheel drive, or all wheel drive four-door configurations, packing either a 5.0-liter V-8, or a Saleen-developed supercharged 5.0-liter/286-horsepower V-8. A six-cylinder version, the Saleen XP6, was also made in very limited quantities in 1998.
The Saleen Explorer really had a very limited set of options, and the standard 5.0 Liter V-8 really isn’t the powerhouse approaching anything called Muscle, with the standard horsepower output of only 222, pulling a rather gutless 298 lb/ft of torque. This is at or near the levels of the late 70s or early 80s, when Muscle Cars were rather flaccid. The only transmission choice was Ford’s very own 4-Speed Automatic with overdrive. At least you could choose between two or four-wheel drive… Step up to the Supercharged five liter powerplant, and horsepower ratings were bumped to 286, with 333 lb/ft pf torque. This was a little better than the standard engine, but far from the fire-breathing days of Muscle Cars of yore. Even the rejected Hummer H3 Alpha had more horsepower (300), but it too was saddled with a 4-Speed Automatic. To help in the handling department, the Saleen crew lowered the SUV almost two inches, to improve the road-ability, but this was mostly done for looks. Springs and shocks were replaced with items off the Saleen parts bin, (Like their own Racecraft components, and Saleen’s own 18-inch magnesium wheels) with tires provided by Pirelli (255/55SR18 Scorpion S/T Radials). Again, quoting from Wikipedia here,
The exterior appearance package was designed by Phil Frank and includes special front and rear fascia, side skirts, door cladding, roof-mounted rear wing, and carbon fiber trim. The cabin is treated to either a real wood or carbon fiber appearance package, depending upon color choice, as well as Saleen gauge faces and floor mats. A particularly nice, though pricey, option is Saleen/RECARO leather seating ($3950), offering 10-way power adjustment up front and hip-hugging support.
These trucks are extremely rare, with approximately 125 Saleen XP8’s produced, though this figure is up for debate. Saleen didn’t keep very accurate records at the time, and it has been reported that the first 20 produced were reserved for employees and executives of both Ford and Saleen. How many of these trucks still exist is open to debate, though there is a dedicated site called Explorer XP8 that you can explore on your own here… So, limited production, built by an actual racecar company, with enhanced performance, and dynamic looks to enhance collect-ability. Should the Saleen Explorer XP8 be granted entry into the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, or should it be left in the dust, just like the poor, neglected Hummer H3 Alpha? Remember, given time, these will approach cult status, and it may happen sooner than later, so vote your heart and comment away on any of my Obscure Muscle Car Postings… Please Note: All Images are screen grabs from around the web. If you want credit for any image, please let me know in the comments section. Thank You! [poll id=”221″]