Patrick Ernzen ©2015, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
The S7 Twin Turbo presented here stands out from the rest of S7 production for several reasons. Primarily, it was the first S7 to be fitted with the Competition Package upgrade, and according to Saleen, it is one of only two such cars to produce 1,000 horsepower via increased turbocharger boost and revised engine mapping. This is the highest specification possible, greater even than the 850 horsepower of their competition-spec cars. In order to handle the prodigious amount of power, Saleen also adjusted the suspension and fitted a revised front and rear diffuser to ensure that the car could be kept under control. Furthermore, this car was retained by Saleen for use by the automotive press when it was new. It is finished in the captivating color of Beryllium Orange, a metallic citrus hue that perfectly suits the car’s outrageous design. Only two cars were built to this specification, and this is the only one finished in this color combination.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo
Years Produced:2005–09
Number Produced:20 (twin turbo)
Original List Price:$555,000 (2005)
SCM Valuation:$375,000–$525,000
Chassis Number Location:On dashboard by right A-pillar
Engine Number Location:Right rear section of engine block
Club Info:Saleen Club of America
Alternatives:1990–93 Vector W8, 2002–04 Ferrari Enzo, 2004–05 Maserati MC-12
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 119, sold for $682,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s auction in Monterey, CA, on August 13, 2015.

Do me a favor. Go to YouTube and dig up a video rife with the sounds of prototype sports racers throttling down the Mulsanne Straight at 200 mph. Now, jam your eyelids shut. We are going to perform a little meditational exercise.

You’re driving your own Le Mans racer — but not just any of them. No, this one’s a winner! It has a 7-liter, twin-cam V8 engine juiced up with twin turbos. It has a very direct manual gearbox that seems to take anything you throw at it. It has stomach-clenching amounts of down force and probably has more carbon fiber than any other car on the grid.

Did I mention it is mid-engined? Or how about that its tail is as sexy and sculpted as a Jaguar XJ 220? And the rest of the car just gets better.

Wait! Don’t get mad and discard your copy of SCM! No, we haven’t found a way to sneak a snooty, exotic European car into the American Profile. I’m describing a vehicle that was inspired, designed and engineered in the United States.

Veyron zip and Enzo style at half price

Steve Saleen’s brainchild was arguably the first American supercar to rival its European counterparts. All of its critical pieces, including that gorgeous 427-ci engine, were designed and developed in the U.S.

It was as if Saleen discovered his own magic formula for creating a car that met all of the European standards — mechanically and aesthetically — and then proved it by actually racing the car.

In 2010, a Saleen S7, essentially a 10-year-old design, finished first in the GT1 class at Le Mans (13th overall). This means that the S7 possesses something that few modern supercars have — actual competition history. So that makes me wonder: Was $682,000 a huge price, or was it throwaway money for such a competent machine?

A little bit of digging in SCM’s Platinum Auction Database gave me some added insight into this car’s past.

In 2009, Barrett-Jackson sold it at Scottsdale for $412,500 (SCM# 125523). Even though it was featured in the movies “Iron Man” and “Redline,” and then landed in the garage of noted collectors Paul and Chris Andrews, the catalog mentions little about what happened afterwards.

In 2011, at Gooding’s Scottsdale auction, our subject car sold for $297,000 (SCM# 170593), and after that, not much information seems to be available.

I would have to guess — and yes, I’m assuming — that the astute owner of the Pinnacle Portfolio identified it as an undervalued car and bought it with the judgment that it would appreciate later. If you didn’t hear about RM’s Pinnacle Portfolio sale in Monterey this year, stop reading and turn to our market report on RM Sotheby’s sale on p. 108.

The Pinnacle Portfolio sale was THE big news from Monterey this year.

The 23 cars that sold out of this collection generated an astonishing $67 million. That’s an average price of $2.9 million per car.

Our subject car jumped from $297k in January 2011 to $682k in August 2015. That’s a big leap. However, the S7 is a terrific deal compared with its European counterparts. You can’t buy an Enzo or a Veyron for $682k.

Provenance from bloodlines, not screen presence

The mechanism that makes a car double in its perceived value over the course of fewer than five years is still poorly understood. Let me take my shot.

First of all, this is not a movie car. Only movies that have long-term cinematic significance create appreciation for cars like this. The generic example would be Eleanor from “Gone in 60 Seconds.” While “Iron Man” was a huge hit, it is simply not iconic enough to make a car worth an extra $400k. If it were, then this car would have sold for more back in 2011. As far as “Redline” goes, if you saw the movie, you’ll understand why it doesn’t even merit consideration.

Next theory: This car is one of two competition-spec examples, meaning that it’s basically a race car. While an S7 won the GT1 class at Le Mans in 2010, the 2011 sale was just a few months later — which was not enough time for the significance of this car to settle in with the market. Nevertheless, any car with a Le Mans bloodline gains value. I believe this had a healthy effect on the recent sale price — but wait, there’s something else at work here.

Every auction has a good deal

The association with the Pinnacle Portfolio and the mysterious Monterey effect converged to create a perfect sale.

Almost all of the cars in the Pinnacle Portfolio sold for well over a million dollars — with the exception of seven. Three of these seven cars — a 1974 Dino 246 GTS (Lot 123), a 1967 Toyota 2000GT (Lot 104) and our subject car, could represent an opportunity for further investment.

Of these, the Saleen was the most radical, and in the context of the more expensive cars, it looked like a good deal with further appreciation potential. I’d have to call this car well sold, as the consignor made big money on it, but in the context of how powerful, well engineered, and inexpensive it was compared to the cars it was sold with, it’s also an astute purchase. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)

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