Blue Thunder

Blue Thunder 

A Terminator Powered Saleen

Saleen Mustangs are a rare breed to begin with, but to find one powered by a Terminator Cobra drive train is even more rare. And how Dane Basch’s 2000 Saleen, named Blue Thunder, arrived to this point is a unique story in itself. Though some purist may shutter at this thought one look at the supercharged SVT power plant in Dane’s Saleen and you immediately notice something special right away. The Terminator motor not only looks natural in the engine bay, but the professionalism and detail of the installation is second to none. Not only has the vehicle been upgraded from its original anemic 2 valve motor to a high performance 4 valve SVT motor, but the accompanying modifications and upgrades has moved Blue Thunder into supercar status.

I have been fortunate to watch Blue Thunder’s evolution, though some chapters in her life were not glamourous. However, the events, both the good and the bad, are what lead her on her path ultimately mading her into the vehicle she is today. So, without further delay here’s Blue Thunder’s story best told by her owner; Dane Basch.

“I love telling the story of my 2000 Atlantic Blue Saleen, designated S/N 00-282, and I am honored to have the opportunity to share that story with you. Getting my Saleen was the culmination of a life-long dream of owning a Mustang and a comedy of errors that lead me to the purchase. It certainly didn’t happen in a direct manner.

“In 1999, I was driving a Taurus SHO, which I had since 1994. I loved that car dearly.  But she was about to eat her third automatic transmission (anyone who had an SHO with the automatic knows what I am talking about), so I decided, with the encouragement of my then wife, to replace her. The only stipulation was my car had to have a back seat…seeing as we had one child already, and we were planning for another. And I knew just the car I wanted: an SVT Cobra! Wait….Cobra you ask? I thought we were talking about a Saleen?! It gets better, I promise.

“In 1999, the Cobra wasn’t offered in the color I wanted: silver. I always wanted a silver car, and in 2000 the Cobra was going to be offered in that color. So, I ordered one. I had about an 8 month wait. So, I paid my deposit, and I waited. And waited. And… I waited.  I waited through all the 1999 Cobra engine recalls, and the rear suspension issues, and a few other quality control problems.  And then Ford abruptly canceled the 2000 Cobra outright.  The problems with the 1999 Cobras effectively killed off SVT’s financial resources for the 2000 model year.

“So, now what? The silver car “might” be built as a 2001, but the dealership wasn’t sure. And I knew I couldn’t wait that long. Then, fate, and an oil change on my wife’s 1999 Explorer, interceded. We were at Team Ford of Marietta, GA getting the oil changed on the Explorer, and we went into the showroom to say ‘hello’ to Carl Yarber who sold us the Explorer and took my order on the Cobra.

“And there she was, sitting in front of his desk! A 2000 Atlantic Blue Saleen! I had never seen Atlantic Blue on a Mustang before, and certainly not on a Saleen. That color on that car just stopped me dead in my tracks. It also happened to be sitting next to a silver Saleen, so we were able to compare the two colors. And the wife said, ‘I like the blue one better…buy that one’.  Wonderful woman…sad how things changed later. But that, as they say; ‘”

“I took it out for a test drive the next day after work, and two days later, on April 15, 2000, I signed the paperwork and became the owner of that very Atlantic Blue Saleen, S/N 00-282. I finally had my Mustang. A Saleen Mustang. Never did I think in a million years I could hit so high a target.

“Over the years, my Saleen, which we nicknamed ‘Blue Thunder’, has seen its share of changes. It started out with the 260 horsepower 2-valve V8 found in the Mustang GT of that era. I did the usual bolt-ons to the intake, throttle body, and manifold. I changed the exhaust to long-tube headers. I even tried nitrous, which was fun, but a big mistake. But, it was when I decided to change the cams that things went very bad for my Saleen. Then again, if things weren’t so bad, things wouldn’t have gotten so good later. Allow me to explain:

“Without boring you the reader with needless details, let me just say that what turned out to be a less than professional Mustang shop in the area (no longer in business) cheated me out of a lot of money, while at the same time completely botching the camshaft installation. That, combined with the same shop over-cooking the engine on nitrous, eventually led to me to facing a redo on the motor. Yes, unfortunately, it was that bad.

“But fate intervened. A 2003 Cobra motor, complete with factory supercharging, became available. And for the same price as rebuilding a 2-valve motor and supercharging it, I was able to pick up and install a 4-valve motor already built by Ford with a supercharger.  The decision was easy and the installation went very smoothly. So, now Blue Thunder moves with Terminator power, built from the block up to be a supercharged motor. The looks of a Saleen, the power of a Terminator engine, and the ability to drive her anywhere, any time. One could not ask for anything more.

“My Saleen has had many changes over the years. Some of the highlights are as follows:

Transplanted 2003 Mustang Cobra supercharged motor, AKA a Terminator motor, complete with BBK long tube headers, smaller supercharger pulley, upgraded 60lb fuel injectors, and larger single-blade throttle body. The motor currently is capable of producing 525 horse power.

Converted the fuel system from returnless (stock) style to return-style with a kit from Lethal Performance. This included big bore billet fuel rails, larger fuel lines, and duel 320 liter-per-hour fuel pumps.

Converted to from a T45 5-speed manual transmission to a T56 Magnum 6-speed transmission capable of handling 800 lb-ft of torque.

Upgraded rear axels

Custom aluminum drive shaft

Corbeau LS series seats… much more comfort and with better support than the very bad stock seats

Cervinis 2000 Cobra-R replica hood (needed for clearance over the new motor)

Custom stereo complete with navigation hookups, Apple CarPlay, and over 2000 watts of power

All the usual Saleen upgrades to the body, suspension, exhaust, and interior

Many, many billet aluminum pieces (I love billet aluminum!)

“As with many cars like this, there is always something going on…it’s a never-ending project! But, isn’t that part of the fun of owning cars like ours? Isn’t that, in fact, the whole point?

“I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief tour of my Saleen. She is unique and very special to me. She’s a survivor with 106+K miles and I’m very proud to be her owner.”

As you can tell, like most of us with our vehicles in this hobby, Dane’s Saleen has earned a place in his heart that makes her part of his family. She is as special as she is beautiful and rare. Dane enjoys cruising around Sarasota, FL with Blue Thunder and attending cruise-ins and events with the local club Modern Mustangs of Sarasota. He has also clocked some track time with Blue, has been featured with Nitto’s display at NMRA’s Spring Break Shootout at Bradenton Motorsports Park, and has put her through the twisties on the Tail of the Dragon on several occasions. Blue has been to six states in all and even driven in snow once. Dane is proud that she’s as road worthy as she is attractive.

Stay tuned for more feature cars from our area. Until next time; see you on the streets!

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