Saleen bringing new Chinese-built S1 sports car to LA Auto Show

It resurrects the Henrik Fisker-designed Artega GT.

Since the demise of the Saleen S7 in 2009, Steve Saleen's various enterprises have focused on reimagined Ford Mustangs and the blown-out Tesla Model S dubbed FourSixteen. At last, the tuner takes a gentle step back into the cosmos of standalone cars with the introduction of the Saleen S1, revealed in China this month and coming to next month's L.A. Auto Show. The S1 represents the first fruit of Saleen's joint venture with Chinese company Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technology Co.

The S1 also represents the old made new. If the shape ignites some long-neglected neurons, it's because the S1 resurrects the 10-year-old, mid-engined Artega GT. In 2007, Henrik Fisker designed coupe bodywork for German firm Artega that would sit on a Lotus Evora chassis. Artega planned to produce 500 units for Europe, powered by a 3.6-liter Volkswagen V6, priced at about $100,000. A few cars reached private owners, but the plan faltered when Artega went bankrupt in 2012 and ceased production.

Saleen apparently bought all rights to the Artega GT earlier this year. The latest incarnation supposedly retains the carbon fiber bodywork, but gets Ford's 2.3-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost tuned up to 450 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque. Top speed will be 180 miles per hour. An electric version is expected in 2018, after the traditional coupe hits the market. (In 2015, Artega briefly made noise about producing an electric GT renamed Scalo.)

Jiangsu Saleen will build the S1 at a new factory currently under construction in Rugao, China, slated for completion in June 2018. Chinese and U.S. sales are planned, but the sales model isn't clear; Jiangsu Saleen CEO Charles Wang told China Daily that buyers won't interact with traditional dealerships nor a model like Tesla's direct sales. We'll expect more details in a few weeks in L.A. If we're really lucky, the resuscitated Artega GT will lead us to a resuscitated Saleen S5S Raptor.

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