The saga for specialty car manufacturer Saleen, Inc. got some surprising help yesterday from a former employee who also happens to be the original founder. In a press statement, Steve Saleen announced that his new company SMS Supercars would honor warranties left hanging from the abrupt termination of Saleen, Inc., and the subsequent sale of assets to MJ Acquisitions early last February.
"While my new company, SMS Supercars, has no legal or moral obligation to take up any of the warranty claims against Saleen, Inc. or MJ Acquisitions, Inc., I would like to make a bold statement on the right way to treat customers," said Steve Saleen. "If any Saleen customer in the United States who purchased a Saleen, Inc. product up until February 2, 2009, has a warranty claim, they can directly contact my new company, SMS Supercars. We will honor their remaining warranties as if they were SMS Supercars warranties."
Depending on who you talk to, the involvement of investment firm Hancock Park Associates in the Saleen organization marked the beginning of the end for Saleen, Inc. Rumors of dissatisfaction between Steve Saleen and the investment company -- which brought in their own management team -- began circulating as early as 2005. With Hancock Park Associates holding a majority stake in the company, Steve Saleen was bumped out as CEO in 2006 and relegated to Vice Chairman, a position he held until his official resignation from the company in May of 2007. A significant reshuffling of upper management followed as the company continued to decline, until MJ Acquisitions (MJA) purchased a majority of Saleen, Inc. assets earlier this year.
What ultimately became of Saleen, Inc. is still a bit of a mystery. Barely three weeks ago, MJA issued a statement saying it wasn't responsible for warranty claims on Saleen parts sold prior to February 2 2009, nor was it responsible for any warranty coverage on Saleen, Inc. vehicles, period. According to MJA, that coverage was still in the hands of Saleen, Inc. In the meantime, Saleen, Inc. seems to have quietly disappeared. Scattered reports say that the company is out of money and has ceased all operations. The reports also say that Saleen, Inc. has no money to cover warranties, thus making them null and void. More than few disgruntled Saleen owners at the Saleen Owners and Enthusiast Club are looking into a class action law suit, as no official bankruptcy filings have thus far taken place. Ironically enough, folks can still log onto the Saleen, Inc. web site and view all the products from a company that apparently no longer exists.
"I was saddened about the way the current owners of the proud company I founded, and which held onto my name after my departure two years ago, have now dealt with my loyal and longtime customers," said Steve Saleen.
MJ Acquisitions, the company that purchased most of the Saleen, Inc. assets, has been conspicuously quiet since their announcement on warranty coverage a little over two weeks ago. In this absence of customer support -- and no doubt with an eye on future customers -- Steve Saleen decided to intervene.
"This unusual step in these uncertain times is a measure to assure that my past and future customers, as well as Saleen and Ford dealers around the United States, continue to have faith in products bearing my name," said Saleen.
Steve Saleen is active with his new venture, SMS Supercars. The company currently offers a highly-modified version of the current Dodge Challenger called the SMS-570 Challenger, available for order though Dodge dealers across the country. Individuals with warranty claims on Saleen, Inc. products can contact the SMS Supercars warranty department at (714) 400-2121, or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.