My Second Mustang: 1999 Saleen S281

My second Mustang was a Saleen. It was a vibrant chrome yellow. It was supercharged. It was also original. It was a fun car.

After soccer season was over my senior year at college, my fiancée, now wife, and I decided to get another Mustang. I found this Saleen, and I became its current owner.

This Saleen had 350 horsepower with 410 ft-lbs of torque. It could do 0-60 in 4.6 seconds. It had 18×9 rims up front, and 18×10 in the rear. But it had 3.08 gears to avoid shifting and allow it to reach 60mph in 1st gear. It could not break traction in the corners like I was used to from my Cobra. So, I had the gears swapped for 3.55s when I discovered that the seal on the rear end needed replacement. What a difference! These gears made it much more fun to drive.

Other than gears, I didn’t change anything on the car. It looked great as it was, and it had plenty of power and speed.

I ended up selling it for multiple reasons over two years later. First, the supercharger needed to be rebuilt, which I could not afford. Second, the front right shock was bad due to an inconvenient pot hole. I needed to replace the shock at least as well as some other components, and I couldn’t afford it. Third, the car sometimes would stall when at a stop; I could not figure out why, nor could Folsom Lake Ford. Fourth, the clutch needed replacement. Fifth, gas was upwards of $5 per gallon. Ultimately, I just had to sell it.

I sold it to an all cash buyer from Oakland. Before him, I had an interested buyer who was trying to buy it for much lower than low balling. I refused. Just when it seemed doubtful that I would sell it, I received contact from this guy in Oakland. He drove to Folsom to see the car. While I was showing him the car, smoke started coming from the engine. It turns out that the AC clutch was bad. The clutch locked up but the belt kept rotating; as a result, the belt began to melt due to the friction, which caused the smoke. I thought I was not going to be able to sell it now. I was wrong. The buyer offered to keep the offer on the table. I was asking for $15,000. He offered $14,000. In addition, he offered to go halves on the repairs, and he would come back the following weekend to pick up the car. He left an all cash deposit. Mid week, he called me and raised his offer. He said, “That car is worth 14.5, and I thought you would come back with that. So, let’s just call it 14.5.” And he still went halves on the repairs. In short, I sold the car, and I was happy about it for the reasons above.

But I miss having a Mustang. I miss having speed and torque. I miss having a cool car for dates. I miss being sucked in to the back of my chair when I put the petal to the metal. I miss downshifting and passing up the car in front of me without breaking a sweat. But I digress.

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My First Mustang: 1994 Mustang Cobra SVT

My first Mustang was a white 5.0L Cobra. I had wanted a Mustang since high school, but I couldn’t get one, since I was under my parents’ insurance and financial support. I sold my car, a 1999 Acura Integra GSR coup, while a sophomore in college, and I bought this 1994 Mustang to replace it under the aid of my friend, Joel Courage. I had finally obtained a Mustang. It was my financial responsibility: I obtained my own insurance and paid for my own gas. It was significantly cheaper paying fir these things than paying for the loan on the Integra. And I was happy.

I had this Cobra for 2 years. I only made one true modification of my own: I switched to a Steeda Tri-Ax short throw shifter. The previous owner did the other changes: 2″ drop, Mac cold air exhaust, air conditioning bypass, Saleen 351 wing with a GT trunk lid, hammer shifter grip, tinted windows, including driver and passenger doors, and engine bay lights with blue covers. I switched the wing for a stock GT one, since Cobra trunk lids and wings are rare for 1994. I swapped the hammer shifter knob for an original one. I removed the bulbs in the engine bay. The only ticket I ever had was a fix-it ticket for the illegal tint, so I removed the tint from the door windows. He also had a cobra window decal on the rear main window, which I removed, and, to my pleasant surprise, the sun had faded the tint around the decal, so, once removed, the cobra snake was essentially burned in. I did repair the exhaust. The previous owner installed turn downs that often caught on speed bumps. One Saturday while driving southbound on I-5, one of the mufflers had it’s input pipe break through, so the muffler began to drag. I had only discovered it after getting to my destination. I decided to replace it with a Mac cat-back exhaust.

This particular Cobra had 3.27 gears. It was a 5.0L V8. I expected it to be fast. When I got it initially, it was not any faster than my Integra. Joel took a look at it with me, and he found that I was only operating off of 6 cylinders. One spark plug was not screwed in and a spark plug wire was grounding out on a header. We swapped plugs and wires. We changed the coil. Presto. My Cobra came alive. It was the fastest car I had ever been in. Joel is a race car driver, so I let him drive it after changing the electrical components. When he stepped on the gas, I went bug-eyed. I had never been sucked in to my seat like that before. It was quite the experience.

I began learning how to drive the car. It had lots of torque; breaking traction while taking a corner was simple. Learning to control it didn’t come easy. Foolishly, I lost control of it one night and did a complete 180. Fortunately, I didn’t hit anyone as the street was empty and absent of any cars or people. I got scared of the car, which led me to respect its power and drove me to master it. I figured out how to control it with practice, and it was fun.

I had this Mustang when I met my wife. I later sold it to pay for her engagement ring, since I didn’t have a need for a car any more, because we could use her car to get around town.

It was a good car, and, frankly, I miss it. This Mustang was fast and fun, but it was simple and affordable. And it was my first, though certainly not my last.