CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 24th MARCH 1999 HORSES FOR COURSES FOR CRAIG DEAN Melbourne car importer Craig Dean has just taken delivery of a Ford Mustang Saleen S351 a factory distributed high performance ...
CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 24th MARCH 1999
HORSES FOR COURSES FOR CRAIG DEAN
Melbourne car importer Craig Dean has just taken delivery of a Ford Mustang Saleen S351 a factory distributed high performance variation of the garden variety Mustang which he figures will give cars like the 1999 Porsche 911 RSCS runners, the Ferrari F355 Challenge of Darren Palmer and Gary Waldon's Dodge Viper GTS Coupe a run for their money.
The car will be unique in its class in the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship. Craig says the Saleen version of the Ford Mustang is as far removed from the standard variety as a tricked up Tickford XR8 Falcon is from the Falcon you'd drive off the showroom floor.
"I believe it'll be a frontrunner in class A, right up there with the Porsches, the Viper, Masterati and Ferrari. It's weight is the only negative but the low down grunt and incredible power more than make up for that," Dean said.
"Some people say Steve Saleen, the brains behind the Saleen Mustang is the Shelby of the 80s, 90s and beyond. One thing's for sure, these high performance cars are becoming legendary and I am proud to be the first to land one in Australia for serious racing.
"Like the Tickford Ford range in Australia, Steve Saleen plays a similar role in the US - only the Mustang is considerably faster."
A supercharged 351 power plant, six speed manual transmission, and ground effects package have contributed to making a Saleen Mustang on of the fastest production cars in the U.S. and it's sure to make a big impact on the Australian racing scene.
"I like specialist cars. I don't like standard models or common cars like the Porsche 911 RSCS, that's why I was attracted to the Saleen Mustang", Dean said.
The race is on to have the car prepared for the first round of the GTP Championship at Eastern Creek. The car is currently having some suspension modifications and a roll cage fitted.
Dean says, "Even though it's been an expensive operation to import the car from Saleen in California, it is a much cheaper option than a Ferrari or a Porsche, and with a bit of luck I'll be more competitive anyway".
Dean is no stranger to specialist vehicles. He's imported everything from Corvettes to an FTO Mitsubishi for his Sports and Luxury Cars operation in Melbourne.
So, what inspired Dean to get serious about motor racing? His second behind Jim Richards in the Targa Tasmania did the trick. "It used to be a fun thing taking part in events like the Targa, but when I got a taste of being on the podium and spraying around the champagne, I was hooked!".
Dean is very serious about being competitive. He expects to be on the podium for at least some of the GTP races on this year's racing calendar, and has thrown down the gauntlet to Porsche 911 RSCS drivers, Jim Richards, Domenic Beninca and Peter Fitzgerald, Darren Palmer in his Ferrari F355 Challenge, Perry Spiridis in the Maserati Ghibli and Dodge Viper GTS Coupe pilot, Gary Waldon.