Thunderstruck: Saleen Releases Black Label Sportruck

If you’re a fan of performance trucks, you likely remember Saleen‘s initial release in 1987, the Sportruck. This marked the beginning of Saleen’s modifications to Ford trucks, aiming to compete on the road circuit. The outcome was Steve Saleen’s triumph in the SCCA Race Truck Challenge, securing the Driver’s Championship and a Manufacturers Championship title for Ford. 

The enduring enthusiasm for high-performance trucks that can handle and accelerate has not dwindled, and Saleen continues to showcase its ability to produce such exceptional vehicles. Saleen has now unveiled its latest creation, the Black Label Sportruck, at the 2023 SEMA show sporting a one off Thunderstruck paint scheme. 

Form Follows Function

At SEMA, things get kicked up a notch with custom paint jobs and outlandish creations. You might be tempted to think, “Now, that paint scheme is only for grabbing attention,” but it’s more than just eye-catching – it’s a tribute to the S1 series Saleen race car, featuring its vibrant green and purple scheme with a tinge of pearl and metal flake added to the mix. Yet, what might not immediately catch your eye is the purpose behind the body modifications. 


The front fascia and grille underwent design enhancements to improve aerodynamics. The side skirts were incorporated to create a lower-to-the-ground effect, enhancing the truck’s handling at high speeds. Perhaps most intriguing is the addition of a blown rear diffuser. This unique diffuser style utilizes exhaust gasses to engage with the diffuser airflow, providing Saleen’s engineers with the ability to re-energize the low-pressure air at the rear of the diffuser, ultimately generating increased rear downforce. 

Staying Planted With Potent Power Plant

The rear diffuser is not the only thing that is blown; the 5.0-liter Coyote under the hood received a supercharger unit. The addition of Whipple Gen-5 3.0-liter supercharger boosts the power from the stock 400 horsepower figure to 775 in the Black Label. While the 5.0-liter Coyote engine has proven capable of handling high horsepower levels, creating a statement as bold as the ThunderStruck takes more than just throwing power into the engine bay and hoping for the best.

“Making a truck go fast is relatively easy, just add horsepower. “But to make it handle, brake, and drive with sportscar prowess takes a lot of development and testing.” Steve Saleen, Saleen Automotive.

Tucked under the wheel arches are 22-inch five-spoke Saleen wheels, enabling the truck to leverage the clamping ability of massive brake calipers. The truck maintains its emphasis on handling, incorporating both rear trailing arms and Racecraft suspension throughout. The interior did not go unnoticed, featuring a full leather interior adorned with custom stitching found throughout. The gauge display evokes nostalgia reminiscent of a Saleen Fox Body, characterized by its white face and distinctive “Saleen” branding.

DNA Runs Deep

While the current Sportruck is based on the F-150 and is nearly twice the size of the dated Ford Ranger, it continues to pursue the same objective: delivering a handling and engine performance package to rival sports cars, both on and off the track. Given Ford’s extensive lineup of trucks in production, we hope to see Saleen extending its modifications to each, outfitting them with Sportruck aesthetics and increased horsepower. The mere thought of a Maverick or Ranger adorned with the classic black, yellow, and black racing scheme gets us kind of excited.


A classic Saleen Sportruck Ford Ranger was showcased at the Carlisle Ford Nationals. Now, picture a modern Ford Maverick or Ranger lowered with this iconic livery.

About the author

James Elkins

Born into a household of motorsport lovers, James learned that wrenching takes priority over broken skin and damaged nerves. Passions include fixing previous owners’ mistakes, writing, and driving.
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