GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

Saleen S7

yellow_saleens7.jpg

Year: 2002
Country: United States
Class: Exotic Sports Car
Type: 2-door coupe
Host: GT4


Price: $419,130
Construction: carbon fiber/reinforced plastic body over steel & aluminum honeycomb frame

Length: 187.9" // Width: 78.3" // Height: 41.0"
Wheelbase: 106.3"
Overhang:
Track: 68.8" [F] 67.3" [R]
Ground Clearance: 4.5" (max), 3.5" (min)
Weight: 2,755 pounds
Wgt Dist: 40/60

Steering: pwr-assisted rack & pinion
Skidpad (real-life): .98g
Layout: mid engine/rear-drive
Tires: 275/30VR-19 [F] 35/25VR-20 [R]
Suspension: dual-wishbone, coils, shox, anti-roll bars
Brakes: vented discs

Engine: 427 cubic-inch OHV V8
Construction: aluminum block & heads
Aspiration: natural
Fuel System: multi-point fuel injection
Valves / Cyl: 2
Bore x Stroke: 4.13 x 4.00"
Compression: 10.0:1

Stock BHP: 550 @ 6,400 rpm
Stk Torque: 526 @ 4,000 rpm

Credits per BHP: $762.05
Pounds per BHP: 5.01
BHP per Liter: 78.4

Idle Speed: 1,000 // Redline: 7,000 // RPM Limit: 7,500

Transmission: 6-speed manual with dual-clutch
Differental: limited-slip

0-60 mph: 4.033 seconds
0-100 mph: 7.966 seconds
0-150 mph: 15.233 seconds
0-200 mph: 37.166 seconds
 
1/4 Mile: 12.304 @ 129 mph
1 Kilom: 20.757 @ 171 mph

100-zero mph: 3.97 seconds
Test Track Lap: 1:48.710
Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: 1,750

Top Speed at Redline
1st: 70 mph
2nd: 85 mph
3rd: 117 mph
4th: n/a
5th: 180 mph
6th: 227.42 mph @ 6,500 rpm

--------------EXTERIOR / HISTORY---------------

2004 is the year Gran Turismo 4 was released. In this year, computer & console game sales grew 4%, meaning that total sales in 2004 generated about 7.3 billion dollars in the United States alone. This is according to some online research I did at Google Answers. Now, these kind of sales are more than double the amount from just eight years before. 75% of American "heads of households" in 2004 had played or owned a videogame in their lives. 248 million game sales in 2004 alone, excluding web-downloadable and cellphone games.

Now, let's contrast these numbers with some other numbers...419,130 of them to be exact. This is the cost of the Saleen S7 in Gran Turismo 4. In real-life, the newer twin-turbo version of the S7 costs even more at $550,000. There's a story behind all these numbers and figures, and I'll get to it.

...But the real numbers I was looking for, the ones I tried to find (in vain), are the S7's production numbers. How many S7s did Saleen actually build from 2000 till 2006? You'd think this simple info would be all over the 'net. After several web searches, I simply couldn't find it.

Granted, there can't be too many of these hand-built cars in existence. There was a naturally-aspirated S7 (produced from 2000 till 2004) which is the one in our game, as well as a twin-turbo (2005-2007). I was guessing less than 200 cars were built during these seven years, but so far I can't accurately say.

The AutoChannel.com has a press release from 2001, in which Saleen was predicting they'd build somewhere between 300 and 400 cars over the next four years, which sounds about right. Anyways...here's the contrast. 300 to 400 cars versus millions and millions of videogame sales. This means, of course, that only an exclusive few of us will ever drive a Saleen S7 in real-life, yet hundreds of millions of us can drive one in virtuality. Jeez, I'm starting to sound like Carl Sagan.


Anyways, think about some shows on TV..specifically those types of detective shows that feature high-profile crime, usually situated in hot climates full of rich folks. 

Older people may remember Magnum: P.I. and Miami Vice. And nowadays we have Knight Rider (revived after decades of death), NCIS, Criminal Minds, CSI: Las Vegas, CSI: Miami, and CSI: New York, among others I'm forgetting at the moment. Whether or not you watch or have watched these sort of shows, you're probably familiar that supercars are used as props as often as we see Camrys, Accords, and Tauruses in real-life. I can't watch a week's worth of CSI: Miami, for instance, without seeing a car like an S7 being driven around by an arrogant, drug-dealing son of an ambassador.

We can't steal an actual S7 in Gran Theft Auto, but there are other cars similar in shape, speed, and design that any of us can drive. We aspire towards these types of autos. All we need is a gaming console or PC, and we too can pretend we're rich, perhaps criminally-so. Cars like the Saleen S7 are therefore status-symbols...works of art only to be owned by the super-rich (or super-criminal).

Saleen is kinda like Shelby, in that both companies have been involved as legal aftermarket car-boosters for Ford. In fact, we can race a Saleen-modified Mustang in GT2. Over the past 25+ years, thousands of Saleen/Mustangs, Focuses (Foci?), F-150s, and various other FoMoCo products have been released to shed mayhem on the streets. 

Finally, sometime during the late '90s, Saleen had had enough. They wanted to build their own machine, with the S7 being one of their final projects. Lucky us.

There's so much info on this automobile (other than those simple production numbers I was looking for) available from a long list of websites, it's easy to learn much about the S7. So I'll keep my information brief.

2,755 pounds. That's incredibly light for a modern-day "supercar". Saleen achieved this by putting a carbon-fiber reinforced-plastic body over a steel & aluminum honeycomb frame via sophisticated computer technology. All those scoops, holes, and vents in the S7's bodywork are functional for something; be it aerodynamics or cooling. Nothing is done by mistake or for show here. In our game, we can buy weight reductions, too, making this car just 2,341 pounds at the lightest in GT4. 

With the S7, Saleen wasn't just making a fast, lightweight supercar for socialites and criminals to show off, they fully intended to race, as well. The Saleen S7R is the final result of that effort. Just fourteen S7Rs have been produced, yet these cars managed to win win win. Saleen won the prestigious 12 hours of Sebring in 2001. In fact, I'll just take these words from Saleen's website, which illustrates the S7's wins better than I can.

....the S7R also resulted in an additional 4 championships – 2 in Europe, and 2 in the U.S.  Additionally, since its debut the S7R has added these countries to the list:
 
Silverstone, United Kingdome
Barcelona, Spain
Mosport, Canada
Daytona, United States
Estoril, Portugal
Magny-Cours, France
Monza, Italy 
 
 Further proving itself on the international motorsports stage in 2004, the S7R achieve a convincing win over the home-track favorites Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini at Imola, Italy.  Under the lights of camera crews, the big story was to be the debut of the supercar Maserati MC 12 the S7R dominated the racetrack placing first. Within the mystique and the allure of the S7R, there lies a car that performs as a winner.  Saleen S7R’s racecraft and technical innovations have been proven and unmatched by capturing:

More than 60 pole positions
The fastest race lap over 60 times
Championships in 8 different countries
7 GT Championship Wins
And the S7R is still counting!

Additionally, the S7R took first place at Oschersleben, Germany, in December 2005.  IN essence, the S7R has been dominating nearly every racetrack in the world. Today and in the future, the S7R will continue to be the preeminent race car – born in America – powered by innovation, with profound performance, and, completely 100% Saleen.


Well, to be accurate, the end isn't exactly true.
 
Perhaps Saleen hasn't updated their website recently since the S7 is no longer in production, and some of the grammar in this excerpt isn't exactly up-to-par either! But suffice it to say, their shining star did make its mark during a vast portion of the first decade of the new millenium, did it not?   
 

black_saleens7.jpg

-------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN--------------

As I bought and then raced this car for the five required S7 Cup races, I couldn't help but think about various episodes of CSI: Miami I had seen. This used to be one of my favorite shows, but now that I've seen most of them, I rarely watch anymore. Nowadays, I've regressed to reruns of Seinfeld. I also explore YouTube for prime time entertainment. Anyways, I'm racing this car around, and I keep thinking about two words: trust and promise.

Speed happens so easily in the S7, and it seems as though it wants you to trust it with the promise of even greater speed. On CSI: Miami, the main characters who get to drive cars such as S7s around are always high-profile crooks. The types who also constantly rely on trust and promises; and if they can't rely on trust and promises, some other character on the show is pretty much dead.

The other 2% of S7 buyers who happen not to be crooks (sarcasm) buy them not to show off. Yet their cars I imagine are always to be in "GK" mode. That means "Garage Kept". As in "never goes anywhere". As in "low-mileage investment". These cars are not just exotic sports machines, they are also investments.

Even in my game, I felt as though I were investing in this car as I bought it, as though I were about to start a 20-year mortgage on a house or something. It took some serious thought before I bought my S7. I didn't buy it just to finish the S7 Cup, I was thinking long-term. What else could I do with this car? I was thinking some competitive racing in the Extreme and Endurance Halls would be in the future. Buying an S7, even in GT4, was something I didn't just do on impulse. That's the way this sports car was for me.

Really, "sports car" are bad words to describe the S7. With 550 horses on tap (in real-life and in our game), this car is really more of a dolled-up race car with a customized interior, and two trunks (one up front, and one in the rear). The only reason I have used "sports car" to describe the S7 instead of racing car or tuner, is because the S7 is actually street-legal, in the sense that it actually passes America's strict environmental and safety rules. It is (in theory, anyways) not supposed to be much different from any other civilian vehicle. Ha! 

During its time, the S7 was the fastest production car in the world, beating everyone else 'til the Veyron came along. And Saleen didn't just rest, knowing that they had achieved such a lofty title. As mentioned before, they also did plenty of racing (and winning, and fastest laps, and pole positions, and track records) from 2001 'til 2006.

  

...But despite all of this, the S7 is actually not always the best car for the job(s) in our game. 

It is problematic. It's amazing Saleen managed to sell the S7 to the public without today's modern traction controls in place. Even simple acceleration runs are rather difficult in this car. Forget first gear. The S7 can be launced in 2nd, but even so...its massive 427 cubic-inch V8 translates its power to pavement with lots and lots of wheelspin, smoke, and lost time if the driver is not careful. Despite a mid-engine layout. Despite massive 355-width rear tires.

But if you are careful, magic numbers can be made. I managed a zero to sixty sprint of just a hair over 4 seconds on medium sport (S2) tires, so it's not out of the question that if I had equipped my car with S3s, I could make the real-life time of 3.9 seconds. And from there, things only get better. Zero to 100 mph in just under 8 seconds! ...to 150 mph in 15 seconds!! ...to 200 mph in 37 seconds!!!! <<<WoW>>> That is impressive.

Most typical sports cars I've tested can get to 150 mph in under 40 seconds, but the S7 betters them all by 50 mph!

A newb player who can't manage this car's throttle off-the-line will blow all this possible potential with nothing but smoke, of course...and will wind up sitting there and sitting there, unable to blow away a stock Corvette or Impreza STi. This car is for more experienced players, for sure.     

217.42 mph tops while stock in our game!!! The Saleen S7 was the fastest production car in the world in the early part of the New Millenium, blowing away any other. Dang, I think I already mentioned that. However, I believe it's also the fastest production car of GT4 as well. Towards the middle of this decade, Lamborghini, Ferrari, and perhaps a couple other supercar builders had managed to make 550 horsepower "average", causing Saleen to try and best them once again. 

After 2004, they changed the naturally-aspirated V8 into a twin-turbo 750 horsepower diety! Ridiculous that anyone on the street should ever be able to tool around with this much power, but it's true.

In our game, there are three upgrades to be had: Stages 2 and 3 natural-aspriated kits, and a supercharger. We can't buy a racing exhaust, for instance, because PD already has it affixed (according to what is being shown in the parts shop area). Unrealistic, because a stock Saleen S7 can pass America's EPA emissions tests. The EPA would never allow a straight-pipe racing exhaust system to pass! Anyways, after oil-change, the supercharger boasts 742 horsepower with 828 foot-pounds, while a Stage 3 kit can make even more: 883 horses with 808 foot-pounds!  Crazyness.

Truthfully, you'll never need this much power in GT4 sim races, and (as we'll soon discuss) this car really can't handle this much anyways. 

Sometime in 2006, Saleen finally lost their title. The Bugatti Veyron is now the fastest car in the world. Saleen stopped production on the S7, but was it due to the fact that they couldn't beat the Veyron? Some have speculated this could be, but I don't truely know. But I don't think we've seen the last from Saleen by any means.


------------CHASSIS / HANDLING------------

I can't help but wonder how many cheaters (and non-cheaters) have bought this car, expecting magic to happen, only to be ultimately disappointed. In real-life, the S7 is like the Vector M12 that appears in GT2, since both cars are high exotics with highly aerodynamic bodywork. At 150 mph, it is said that the Saleen S7 produces so much downforce, it can theoretically be driven upside-down.

Well, this doesn't seem to be true in GT4

What really surprised me was the massive understeer this car displays. Okay, I expect that below 75 mph, there will be some understeer since the front tires are smaller than the rears. And also, this car's 40/60 weight distribution places more more weight towards the rear and less towards the front--another possible cause of expected understeer.

.....But even at high speeds, the understeer is still here! Really really disappointing, as I bought this car with the hopes that it could enter the Gran Turismo All Stars the same way that Vector of GT2. I didn't expect the Saleen to be able to keep up with Pescarolos and other LMPs, but I
expected I'd be able to modify it to do so!

After a quick stop at GT Auto, those hopes were dashed, as the Wing shop proudly displayed its dreadful message: "this car is equipped with a wing which cannot be replaced". DANGIT!!!! In real-life, Saleen's S7R can actually do so. 

Another problem with this car is its brakes. The real-life S7 is equipped with the best: 4-pot caliper Brembo vented discs up front, and 2-pots in the rear. Despite this (and despite those massive tires) the S7 gets outbraked by a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII!! In fact, in a recent 100 to zero mph braking test, the Evo out-brakes the S7 by an entire half-a-second! This is another bit of surrealistic unrealism, since the Evo is also equipped with Brembos & vented discs.

All of this is disappointing. With its awesome power, I have yet to find any races in which I'm not overkilling lesser sports cars, or can keep up with fully-equipped racing cars.

Some of you may think I'm simply whining. Fine, I know I am! Only, when it gets to be your turn to finish the S7 Cup, and you find yourself  needing to brake super-early in this car, and then employing additional brake-tap after brake-tap mid-corner to avoid horrendous understeer even a Corvette doesn't display, you'll see where I'm coming from.

saleens7_overhead.jpg

PROS----------------------------------------

1). The greatest stock power one can buy in a GT4 car, and without advertisements and sponsorship decals all over it. Is the S7 a sports car? Or a racing car?

2). Great looks. We can almost feel like we're worth some bank as we drive this one around. Or at least important in some way.

3). Engine upgrades push past 800 horsepower.

4). Semi-racing suspension installed as stock. So are several other parts, apparently.

5). Acceleration of a land-rocket. Speed that rivals a jetliner at takeoff.

6). Despite my earlier criticism, this car does generate additional aerodynamic downforce as speed rises. It's just not enough.

7). Giant tires.


CONS---------------------------------------

1). The price.

2). The fact that (let's be honest) we either have a cheater's dream-machine, or lots of credits down the drain once we find this car's career isn't competitve against real racing machines.And it should be.

3). Those S7 Cup races we have to complete on our way towards 100% complete. What a borefest to endure. I managed to pass all five opponents in a single lap at Infineon, for instance, even though my car was stock, and there were still three laps left to go! This sounds like a job for B-spec Bob.

4). Brakes aren't up to "supercar" status.

5). The understeer that follows after braking, sometimes even if such braking had seemed sufficient only a second ago.

6). ...Can't equip a wing kit. I personally believe PD isn't representing this car's high-speed aerodynamics properly.

7). From a standstill, real patience is required to get the best acceleration...and that's while the car is still stock! Tons of wheelsmoke & lost time results, otherwise. There are muscle cars (and old ones, at that) more comfortable with accelerating.

8). Only three colors to be had: yellow, silver, and black. This is actually Saleen's fault, not PD's.

9). On the other hand, Pd kinda screwed up the S7's engine sound, which is exactly the same as that of an Oreca Viper from GT3 or 4. How original.


Published: March 15, 2009

Home | Here are the Reviews | GT2 Racing Guide | GT3 Racing Guide | GT4 Racing Guide | GT5 Racing Guide | Links to other GT sites

CLICK HERE FOR MORE REVIEWS