My name is Scott Van Hoose and this is my story but first a little back ground on myself.
I first got involved with Steve Saleen and the Saleen Company back in 1987. Two years later I was able to buy my first Saleen in 1989 (89-283). Over the years I have owned a total of 5 Saleen’s, 97-052B, 00-210, 01-310, and now the 05-10 Press Car. I have developed quite the relationship with the Saleen family over the years, at car shows, races, events, etc.. So much so that at the 40th Mustang Birthday event I was offered the 2004 press car 04-01 (white with black/yellow striped hood S/C)… well… I had seen Phil Franks drawing of the new 2005 Saleen and I was in love. I asked Steve If I could get this press car, he said it wouldn’t be up for the taking for a while. I told him that “I don’t care, I want it! plus this way I will have time to save money to buy it”.
On March 28, 2007 I got a call from Steve asking if I would like the 2005 Saleen S/C with Scenic glass roof, my heart jumped clean out of my chest, “OH YES”, I said. We talked about the Saleen and its history then after I hung up the phone I realized I didn’t even think to ask him how much, yikes! LOL.
Later I was contacted by Molly Saleen to work out all the details of the sale. Susan (my wife) & I flew into Los Angeles, California on April 12, 2007. While we were there we were invited to tour the Irvine Saleen Plant and got our first glimpse of our new car. We were pleasantly surprised to find the plant was full, wall to wall, of the Parnelli Jones Saleen Mustang, even the paint room. We returned the next day to pick up our car and drive home; the car of my dreams. We have great memories and pictures of the Irvine tour and experience. What a wonderful trip back home we had. And OH! the first airplane we saw over our heads was quite the experience since we had always had hard tops in the past, and bridges are fun too.
2007 to 2011 we went to many Saleen shows and other car shows enjoying the car hobby.
May 22nd 2011, Sunday 5:34 pm
What a great Sunday morning I decided to mow, edge, cleanup the garage and spend most of the day doing so. Susan went to her moms for a visit, which was a blessing in my book even though she had to endure hours of not knowing if I was alive. Around 5pm I went to Sonic to get dinner, the first tornado sirens went off. This later I found out was for a funnel cloud close to Webb City, MO. (8 miles to the north of us). It was surprising because the sun was out and no sign of any clouds at all. I went into the house, turned on TV and was just finishing eating when the second tornado siren sounded 5:20ish. Something told me to take this one serious. I ran out to the back deck and looked up to see the blackest cloud I have ever seen.. NO wait! its rotating and the clouds above me are flying towards it extremely fast. That’s one big Tornado! I ran back into the house and as I’m running by the TV I could see it for about 8 seconds, then the electricity went off. I knew it was close and I needed to hurry. I ran to the back bedroom and picked up two pillows to wrap around my head and mouth. Running up the hallway I could see out the front window debris flying around and pitch black. I jumped into the bath tub and hunkered down. I didn’t have to wait but a few seconds and all hell broke loose, 250 mph plus winds hit. The glass broke, debris hitting, the tub jumping up and down, my ears hurting (felt like Q-tips too deep in your ear) I could feel the debris circling me. Then it calmed down a little, and instead of hearing a constant train noise it was like, hummm, pause, hummm, pause, hummm, pause over and over, I knew this was the eye of the tornado. Then it started all over, the back side was much worse than the beginning. The tub jumped up and down and I felt like it was picking me up so I wrapped my forearm around the bathtub Faucet, I said, “Ok God if it’s my time I’m ok with it, but your going to take the plumbing too… LOL.” It was all over in 5 to 6 minutes, then came the hail and rain.
I finally felt safe enough to emerge, I looked into the hallway and saw it was full of debris. I crawled out of the bathroom and saw light out the back side of the house where the bedroom use to be. I managed my way out of the house and all I could see was total destruction, people crying for help, it was so shocking. My neighbor and I found each other and didn’t even hesitate. We went house to house as a team and helped many people and animals. Part of what helps me get through the bad things we saw is that we were able to help people but the best part is all of the angels that came and helped us and Joplin after the storm. We are truly blessed.
I was covered in dirt, grime, sweat, and I was wet. When I got back to my house a friend/church member, which lived 4 blocks South, stuck by my side helping me find critical items and then led me to his house to spend the night as I was still in shock. Before we left I looked to see if the Saleen was even still there, yes it was, it survived just like I did but it was covered in debris and a refrigerator was on the hood. My Lightning SVT Truck was next to the Saleen also, every piece of glass was blown out of it, the A-Frame was on the drivers side bed just behind the cab, the other side was on the top side of the garage wall with R-12 wiring wrapped around it. The Saleen was under all this with boards sticking back towards the street. Not one board hit the Saleen, and not one piece of glass was blown out, plus no water, insulation, or debris got inside the Saleen.
Dark was upon us so we headed to Frank’s house. No Electric, but the house was still standing. They had two big trees in the back yard that had blown down the electrical lines that were sitting on the roof very scary but grateful to have a safe place to rest. At this point I still had not been able to talk to Susan, I just had to hope someone had gotten a phone call to her saying I was ok. The next day I found out her brother, who had come by to check on me and helped some, had gotten hold of her.
The next seven days we dug through rubble. It continued to rain and we had the fear of more bad weather over us but with the help of many volunteers we found more than we thought possible. Things like Susan’s jewelry box that had blown over and heavy debris landed on top of it. The doors didn’t even open and everything was safe inside. I found my XDM 40mm pistol in the night stand in the middle of the yard. I was still in shock but my buddies helped me found my deer head an 8 point buck. We put it in the front yard and propped it up with sticks and boards. It was so funny looking amongst the destruction, we received tons of comments but the police asked us to take it down since too many people were coming by to see it.
The center of the house was arranged with the back bedroom, going forward 1st bathroom, 2nd bathroom, and kitchen. I was in the second bathroom tub. When we were cleaning the debris off the back bedroom we found our mattress had blown up onto the 1st Bathroom wall with two 2 x 4’s through it holding it in place. I asked Susan to stand here by the mattress while I went around to where I was laying in the tube in the 2nd bathroom. Sure enough I held up a broom and I was directly behind the mattress. I know God and his angels put it there to save my life.
On the fourth day (Thursday) two gentlemen came by the house asking if we wanted to get the cars out of the rubble? I said I would love to but cant figure out how to get the A-Frame out of the way without damaging the cars even more. He came back with “I do, I have a backhoe, and other equipment to take care of this”. So off we went to get them out, two hours later both vehicles came out with no further issues. These guys shook my hand and said that was fun now we are off to help others. I reached into my wallet, all I had was $40 and made him take it saying thank you for helping me and I hope this gets a few tires fixed and fuel to help others.
Afterwards I was able to get into the refrigerator that was previously on the car to find some unopened specialty water bottles that I had been saving from Hallett Racing. It was unreal what the tornado had done, one of the bottles had 1/2 the water gone and was crystal clear. Another one had insulation, dirt, a rock and a wood chip floating in the bottom. All the ribs on the lid were not disturbed in anyway, how did that debris get inside? This is the question I asked Missouri Southern University, they couldn’t figure it out. Tornados are strange beast indeed.
I have a great friend Bobby Ballard that owns Hertz Rent a Car here in Joplin, he let me store my truck and Saleen until insurance could come and look at it. The first insurance adjuster I dealt with was a guy from Louisiana with American Family Insurance. After he said this is just a GT with body parts on it and your insurance says it’s a GT with a 5 K rider on it. I knew this guy and I were not going to have a easy time communicating. Dude, this is a Saleen Mustang! and my agent Steve told me the only way to insure it was to show it as a GT and put two $5000 dollar riders on it. There should be two on it and show as a 2005 GT Premium. I finally told him to get off the property and I would call my agent. I got ahold of Steve he told me he would call Randy Friend the Midwest manger. It wasn’t two hours later and Randy called me and told me not to worry he has my back and will see me in the morning. Then proceeded to tell me he had met me at a local cruise-in in Webb City a few years ago. He had loved the story I told on how I came to own the car and about it being the press car featured in the T.V. show ‘Bachelor’ among other publications. The next day both Randy and Bud (body and paint specialist) showed up and thankfully the meeting went way better than I thought it would. Randy found out what happened with the two riders and fixed it and telling me there shouldn’t be a problem fixing the Saleen especially with the help of Steve Saleen, Greg Wackett, and Mark LaMaskin helping locate hard to find pieces. They both sat in the Saleen and had their pictures taken to put in the American Family news letter. I am so grateful to Randy and everyone that helped.
Ok, now to find the body shop. I called Jody Cook, owner of Cooks Body Shop and car show friend of mine. “Hi Jody”, I said, he jumped in and said “How are you doing Scott? I just want you to know you ARE bringing your Saleen to this shop no matter what. It will be better than it ever was, I promise”.
On the build a few things came up but mostly went as planned. Being the Press car the rear S/C wing mounts were different than the new one we received so we had to re-drill the mounting holes. But nothing could have prepared for me for the drama that was about to unfold replacing the glass roof. We just couldn’t find one and when we did the owner was in Canada but the glass roof was in Washington State and it had some scratches in it. Jody and I did some testing on getting scratches out of glass and it worked so I bought it and had it shipped.
It was to be shipped in a wooden crate and strapped down using three straps onto a pallet but on arrival it was just the wooden crate and the top was opened, sure enough when we pulled it out it was shattered. I was devastated! Thankfully I had bought insurance and got my money back. So back to the drawing board on trying to find a roof. I thought I found one from a person on SOEC living in California but it just wasn’t going to happen. I was just sick so I took the next days off of work to exhaust any option I could think of.
I had learned that the company that makes the Scenic Roof is Guardian and I knew of 3 plants in Michigan. So I started calling each plant, one person at a time. Finally the 39th person I talked to remembered the Saleen order and knew the person at the time in charge of the project. He gave me his name and phone number, Todd Baum, I couldn’t get off the phone fast enough to call him. I was on hold for a while and Todd answered the phone and I told him my story. He told me Saleen ordered 550 Scenic Glass Roofs and that Guardian sent the order to their Ohio plant being a smaller order. He then says “Scott I will be there on Wednesday and I think I will make your day. I will call you as soon as I find out.” Wednesday came and around 11 am Todd called, “Well Scott I am going to make your day I have two Scenic Glass Roofs that had been set aside for blebs but you wont find them”. He proceeded saying he had gotten a call from Steve Saleen stating to send the roof to Scott for cost, I ended up buying both roofs. Todd also told me he had all the tool & die work to make more Scenic Glass Roofs. I sent the information to Molly Saleen in July of 2012. I don’t know what happened but when Susan and I went to the Saleen 10th Annual Nationals in Houston I talked to Steve and he never got the message. We had a great talk and I was able to get the information to him after that. I know works are in progress since Todd emailed me 10/25/13 saying he had been contacted by Saleen. Cool!!
One cool surprise was when we were taking the interior out, on removing the door panels I found inside the doors combined 43 tickets to drive a Saleen. I talked to Liz Saleen and was told 05-10 S/C Saleen Mustang was at Galpin Ford In Los Angeles, California in 2006 and individuals would pickup a ticket and put their name on it and wait for the hourly drawing to get a chance to drive the car. The tickets must have been put on the window/door and fell into the door. I saved the best one to put into a glass car show casing and put all 42 back into the doors.
Funny story I have to tell, I was missing my car so much during the 3 month period between the Saleen being painted and interior finished but with no front windshield, rear window, and glass roof installed. AND OH YES I had to drive it! I put my motorcycle helmet on and drove it off and on for the 3 months. Boy did I get some looks! It didn’t take Jody long to finish it up once we finally got the Glass Roof.
It took us 1 year 2 months to rebuild Saleen 05-10. It was worth every minute of it to get it back, and we were able to do so with the Saleen not having a salvage title. I want to thank everyone that had a hand in helping us find parts and moral support. As most know we lost most everything, I had a collection of Saleen history since 1986. Greg Wackett and others put the word out and everyone that had 2nd hand stuff pooled it up to send it to me at a later date when we got settled in. Two years later I have 3/4 of what I lost, not bad at all. Todd from Saleendreams ebay has helped me a lot, Thanks Todd. Thanks in advance Jason Smith for all you do.
Scott & Susan