Progress Thread '96 Saleen S281 restoration project


New Member
Nov 17, 2015

Before you start reading, this is going to be a thread about a restoration project I'm currently working on. This post shows to original condition of the car and what I got it to until now. This build is still not done but it is very close. If you enjoy it I'm going to post updates about it in the future.

A bit of backstory before I begin:
A few years ago I posted a thread here about a 96 sn95 drift project. Both the engine and transmission needed to be rebuilt which is why we were first thinking of doing an ls swap. The car had a Saleen bodykit on it but I first thought that it was just a clone. Turned out that it is a real Saleen S281. I found a plate in the interior with the saleen stamp, build number, and VIN. A similar plate was also placed in the engine bay above the firewall. When I put the car on a lift I saw that the car also had Saleen suspension. The interior was already reupholstered by the previous owner and the original seats were gone, but the floor mats only had covers which I removed and I found that they were S281 floor mats. The plan changed afterwards. I didn't want to ruin a Saleen more than the original owner had already done before. I finally decided to restore the car and not to turn it into a drift car.

The engine and transmission:
I finally decided against the LS swap not to ruin the car. Instead we just did a full PI engine and TR3650 transmission swap from a 2002 Mustanng GT. I also did full bolt ons (minus underdrive pulleys). CAI, BBK 78mm intake plenum, BBK short headers, custom fabricated 2.5" exhaust with magnaflow mufflers. We also did a greddy radiator with 2 push and 2 pull fans for better cooling in the hot climate I live in.

Suspension and brakes:
I kept the car on the Saleen suspension but I only replaced the springs with some junkyard springs temporarily as the car was on cut springs. All bushings and ball joints were replaced as they were old and cracked and one ball joint actually broke and the car fell to the ground (thankfully while parked). A temporary solution for the horrible sn95 brakes was (slightly) less horrible new edge calipers from a junkyard. The final long term plan for the brakes is S550 GT brake calipers with 2007-2012 GT500 rotors using the FTR brembo kit. This was the best "economical" solution to get good brakes on the car.

Bodywork and interior:
The car was originally bright tangerine but the previous owner repainted it with a very horrible shade of yellow with 2 thin black stripes (also painted on). The car had overspray everywhere (headlights, taillights, rear glass, fender well, engine parts and wiring). I decided to repaint the car with Yellow blaze tricoat which looks amazing. The headlights were replaced, taillights only polished, remaining overspray was either scraped off or painted over with a matt black rattle can. As for the interior, the car was supposed to be sent to a professional shop to be reupholstered last month. The plan was to strip the cracked dash and peeling door panels and apply new black vinyl/leather lookalike, the front seats were going to be reupholstered like the Mach I seats and the rear seats were going to be taken out and just have plain carpets instead. This had to be delayed unfortunately due to the shop closing because of COVID-19.

Estimated total cost until now: ~ $6k -$7k
Now for the pictures:

Buying condition:


Current condition after getting the car to a driveable and not ugly condition:



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Throttlin V8'R

New Member
Jan 12, 2017
Not bad...not bad at all.Its always good to see another SN-95 or New Edge being saved rather than abused,uncared for,or scrapped.


New Member
Nov 17, 2015
Just curious, what’s the bumper number off the car?

I wasn't sure at first, had to look up where to find it as the stickers were already removed as the car had been repainted multiple times. According to what I found on the internet, it is the same as the serial number in the plate in the dash and interior. The number I have there is 31.

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will be trying this sex one when I can find it
Mod Dude
Mar 5, 2019
Happy to see it coming back from obscurity, and getting some much needed love.
Carry on!