Click above for a high-res gallery of Saleen's Irvine assembly plant

In addition to the sunshine, warm weather and availability of good driving roads, one of the biggest benefits of living in Southern California is the proximity of automotive related businesses. Dozens of tuners, manufacturers, hot rodders and racers all reside in SoCal, making it an ideal place for a car nut to call home. As one who would enthusiastically place myself in that category, one of my favorite places to visit in the last several years was the Saleen assembly plant in Irvine. From their annual car show to personal tours to press events, I always enjoyed stopping by to see what Steve Saleen had up his sleeve. There were always one-off projects like an SVT Contour Prototype or a Bonspeed Edition Thunderbird, and there seemed to be at least one or two racecars lying around.

Of course, during every visit I had to check out the S7 build area where there were always at least a few of the supercars in various states of completion. I loved seeing the bare carbon fiber bodies, and there is a stunning white S7 Twin-Turbo that still has a special place in my heart. Of course, the high point was during the production of the Parnelli Jones Mustang, with the facility running at full tilt and Parnelli Jones and George Follmer joining Steve Saleen for photos on the car's debut.

With the economic downturn and Steve leaving the company in the summer of 2007, it was only a matter of time before Saleen consolidated all of its operations and moved everything to its Detroit facility. Lamenting the fact that I would no longer be stop by the Saleen building, I was browsing through my photo archives and decided it was time to share the pictures. I've assembled a huge gallery of my favorite images from the past five and a half years for your viewing enjoyment, all of which include descriptions providing any relevant information and the date the photo was taken. Enjoy!

Related GallerySaleen Irvine Assembly Plant

All photos copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.