Saleen is really, um, confusing. They’re one of those companies that somehow keeps hanging on, despite always seeming to be on the brink and a company who’s biggest recent news was about allegedly bringing back their 20-year-old supercar. But Saleen is more than that. Saleen is also about some gloriously terrible Photoshop jobs, which is precisely what’s happening now, with Saleen’s announcement of their version of the new Ford Bronco.
We got a press release from Saleen breathlessly titled “SALEEN BRONCO BREAKS COVER” like it came from some alternate universe where all us doughy autojournalists were spending all our time following around highly camouflaged Saleen Bronco prototypes.
Just to be clear, we weren’t because I don’t think there are any, at least not yet.
Here’s the images Saleen sent:
Saleen describes their version of the Bronco like this:
Saleen Automotive, the Southern California vehicle manufacturer founded by racing driver and vehicle builder, Steve Saleen, has revealed the Saleen Bronco. As the creator of the Saleen S7 – one of the most successful racing cars ever built – Saleen is mainly associated with success on asphalt surfaces, but with the new Bronco, the company is taking to the dirt with a vengeance.
With racing in his blood, Steve Saleen is never far from a checkered flag, and the Saleen Bronco is no exception. The new vehicle pays homage to Big Oly, the infamous machine piloted by Parnelli Jones. Big Oly took on the Mexican 1000 (now known as the Baja 1000) – one of the most gruelling endurance races in the world – and achieved the monumental accomplishment of winning the race twice in 1971 and 1972.
The Saleen Bronco is not only resplendent in a livery reminiscent of the original, but also boasts numerous performance features fans have come to expect from Saleen. We will reveal more details soon, but expect a very capable, high-performance, off-road machine.
First, I’m not exactly sure I’d call the Saleen S7 “one of the most successful racing cars ever built,” but, we’ll just let that one go.
So, it looks like whatever Saleen says they’re building — or claim to have built? It’s not really clear — whatever it is, it’s based on Parnelli Jones’ tube-frame one-off Big Oly Bronco Baja 500 racer, resplendent in its beery, golden livery.
Saleen’s version looks to be just a two-door Bronco in the same Olympia Beer theme (did Saleen licence the rights to that?), lifted and with a bunch of aftermarket light bars, skid plates, stickers, and what looks sort of like a carbon fibre hood.
That’s all fine, Saleen may be planning to buy some Broncos and build these, sure, whatever, but what’s really fascinating to me is how consistently crappy Saleen’s Photoshop renderings are.
I mean, the basic image looks fine enough — I’d be ok with it if it was something I cranked out in an hour for a relatively low-resolution article topshot, for example. They’re not terrible, at least not for some contexts.
But, for some baffling reason, Saleen insists on sending colossal, huge, high resolution files of their Photoshop renderings, and they always look so half-arse once you see them up close.
We’ve seen this before: last time they sent a crappy Photoshop of their S7 that would be 17 feet wide if printed out. This time, the images are a somewhat more reasonable 4000 x 2000 pixels, but that just means that when you zoom in you see shit like this:
Just look at this crap; that coilover setup has the upper part just chopped off at an angle, that weird vent thing is just kind of slapped on there, and I’m not even sure what’s going on with the edge of that tire there.
Here we’ve got like six different image resolutions and levels of compression going on at once, and nothing actually seems to fit quite right.
…and here we have the white anti-aliased halo of those lights from whatever catalogue page they were cropped out of, along with an MC Escher-style roof rail bar made of — what is that, marble? — that seems to defy the laws of perspective and physics.
Up front we have some magic beam of blue energy that’s manifested itself in the grille, another physics-bending skid plate, and some weird scribbles on the underbody, again with every element having different levels of resolution, blurriness, and compression.
I just don’t get it. If they wanted to make an image showing what it would be like, why not just have a more stylised sketchy approach, which could clearly show the look they’re shooting for without the burden of having to look photoreal.
These image, at a smaller size, would be fine for some quick proof-of-concept stuff, but to send these out as the big “reveal” of a new signature car just baffles me. It also just doesn’t really inspire much confidence about the reality of this, but Photoshop and building cars are two quite different skillsets, so, who knows.
But, I guess that’s the real charm of Saleen — they’re not entirely explainable.
Anyway, if you want a Bronco with a bunch of stuff bolted to it and I suppose some performance enhancements all done up like a can of cheap beer, then, well, I guess you should give Saleen a call.