Carmakers young and old have learned the hard way that automotive flops tend to be particularly spectacular. The industry has a natural mandate for quality, both in terms of performance and safety, and vehicles that violate this mandate have become legendary examples of bad design — think along the lines of the Ford (NYSE:F) Pinto or the Cadillac (NYSE:GM) Cimarron.
If an automaker is lucky, a failed model goes down in history as simply a blemish to the brand and is buffed out over time. If they are unlucky, above and beyond a bunch of lost money, a failed model is a permanent scar on a brand, and in the case of a vehicle like the 1991 Chrysler TC by Maserati, can damage business relationships. But while quality may be a top concern for large car manufacturers, it is a matter of life and death for the myriad specialty manufacturers who compete in the high-performance market. Among the throngs of active tuning firms, a few names stand out more than others — names like Hennessey, Roush, and Saleen.
Wall St. Cheat Sheet was fortunate enough to get on the phone with Steve Saleen, the founder of Saleen Automotive, to find out where he is going with his brand. The last several years have been nothing short of tumultuous for both Mr. Saleen and his firm, but with his recent debut at Laguna Seca, it seems he and his crew are getting back to what really matters — making powerful, raw performance machines.