Autos

It’s More Than Cosmetic: Saleen Reveals New Tesla Model S

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The first few renderings of the Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S à la Steve Saleen have been released, in what is likely one of the most anticipated aftermarket cars to be revealed this year. Saleen and company, who have built their names on aftermarket Mustangs, Camaros, and custom super cars, first announced that they were working on an electric car last year, and later revealed that they were working on a Tesla Model S — perhaps one of the most impressive electric cars in history.

From the available images, it’s obvious that Saleen applied the same muscular formula that’s present in his gasoline-chugging muscle cars to the Tesla, and it decidedly translates quite well. The faux grille space found normally has been made more aerodynamic, framed with what looks like could develop into a carbon fiber front splitter. The car has been lowered, and aside from the differences up front, it retains the Tesla’s natural, flowing shape, thank goodness.

It’s still up in the air as to what the performance will look like, given that Tesla’s proprietary software makes it difficult to tinker with the power (it’s not like you can drop a supercharger or other performance bits in either, as is Saleen’s modus operandi). When we spoke with Steve back in February about his aspirations for the car, he said they would be paying particular attention to the suspension, and playing with some new materials — carbon fiber, we imagine. If you can’t bolster the power, reduce the weight.

“Our intent is to certainly improve the level of performance, some of that we’ll do aerodynamically, through body changes; and some of the materials that we’ll use — obviously, the suspension will be something that we’ll look at,” Saleen said at the time. “We’re still in development on the power, so the jury’s still out on whether that will be effective or not. But we’ll do as much as we can, and still keep the integrity of the vehicle intact so we don’t harm the safety or operational aspects at all.”

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Around back, the Tesla’s sleek bodywork converges at a rear lip spoiler — nothing large and gaudy, it appears, but something just enough to put a little extra oomph on the rear wheels to ensure the power being sent to them is well used. A carbon diffuser in the rear and a new bumper (with what look like some large ducts) complete the walk-around.

On the inside, the changes are rather minimal, with the exception of the leather-alcantara blend that covers the upholstery. And the Saleen logo stitching in the headrests, of course. Naturally, the 17-inch touchscreen dash remains in place.

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Given that so much of the Tesla’s performance rides on its weight and drag coefficient, it will be interesting to see how Saleen’s tweaks will play out in the real world on real asphalt. In the meantime, we believe Saleen has done a good job at adding his signature muscular flare to the Tesla’s graceful and sleek body, without compromising its natural design language.