Just as it Renames its FourSixteen Model S the ST, Tuning House Saleen Admits it’s Out of Money

For three decades, California-based Saleen Automotive has been a well-known name in the custom tuning world, providing a little extra grunt and improved handling to iconic muscle cars like the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger to name a few. It also has an impressive list of film credits to its name, including pretty much every high-octane automotive action movie made in the last two decades.

There's a new Tesla-derived model from Saleen, but it may never reach production.

There’s a new Tesla-derived model from Saleen, but it may never reach production.

Back in August at the annual Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, Saleen Automotive [OTCBB:SLNN] added the Tesla Model S to its stable with the unveiling of the Saleen FourSixteen, a performance-tweaked Tesla Model S with custom body panels, improved acceleration suspension tweaks and of course, a fully-custom interior. At the time, the name FourSixteen referred to the total horsepower rating of Tesla’s top-spec Model S P85 on which Saleen based its creation.

With a new, more powerful flagship model from Tesla in the form of the P85D — which produces a total of 691 horsepower — the name made no sense, so Saleen has just announced the FourSixteen will be replaced by the Saleen ST380 and ST691. Based on the Tesla Model S 85 and Tesla Model S P84D respectively, the two vehicles will come with all-new suspension upgrades, a fully-tweaked cabin with 2+2 seating, and carbon ceramic brakes. Thanks to differential tweaks, the ST691 will even cut down on the incredible 3.1 second 0-60 time of the stock Tesla Model S P85D, taking under 3.0 seconds to hit the magic figure from standstill.

On paper, the arrival of the all-new Saleen ST to replace the FourSixteen is great news. In reality however, Saleen’s forced rebranding of its custom Model S are the least of its woes.

As Gas2.org reports, recent filings made by the publicly-traded company with the Securities and Exchange Commission show the company is in dire financial trouble, with just $7,261 cash in hand at the end of September.

Saleen says it has started deliveries of the FourSixteen, but has massive financilal problems too.

Saleen says it has started deliveries of the FourSixteen, but has massive financilal problems too.

Worse still, the company only has assets of $668,629, and total liabilities of more than $6,634,841, including more than half a million dollars in unpaid payroll taxes. Saleen is, by its own admission, being sued by its bank, has a large unpaid bill from its law firm, and has resorted to paying contractors in company shares.

Less than six months ago, the company had more than $1.5 million cash in hand, $719,993 of which came from customer deposits. Despite that, Saleen managed to burn through cash like it was water, spending just $250,130 on research and development in the last six months but a massive $443,767 on sales and marketing costs like attending auto shows and expensive photo shoot sessions.

In its own words, the company incurred an operating loss of $3,065,980 in the last six months and by the start of this month owed more than $352,795 in unpaid, default bills. A year ago, its shares were trading for around 40 cents each. Now, the company’s value has dropped to just 3.1 cents per share.

Saleen says it believes it can continue operating until the end of this year, but without any external help the company’s ability to continue as a going concern is starting to look unlikely. And with at least some Saleen FourSixteens being shipped to customers, there is at least hope that some of its customers will get the luxury, high-end, Saleen-tuned Tesla Model S they paid for.

But while there’s a new name for its Tesla tuning services, we’re highly doubtful we’ll actually see any on the road.

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  • Dennis Pascual

    It might be an interesting idea, at the right price, for Tesla to actually buy the IP (and name of Saleen) and use it as a sub-brand of Tesla vehicles.nnnSomething akin to M for BMW or AMG for Mercedes Benz.

    • Surya

      I don’t think Telsa needs either the brand name or know how Saleen has to offer to accomplish what it wants to do. I think it would be mostly a waste of cash.

      • Dennis Pascual

        Thus the “at the right price”. I’m not a proponent of purchasing assets at inflated values. Picking up a company swirling BK should be at very close to nothing than at multiples that are insane.nnnThink pennies on the dollar, or even wait until the company goes under.