Sale of the Week

Selling Dennis Rodman's Saleen was not a slam dunk

by Andrew Newton
21 July 2023 4 min read
Bring a Trailer/bigblockgt

There’s always an extra bit of intrigue when a celebrity car comes to market. Price-wise, it adds a variable on top of the usual combo of condition/mileage/history/rarity/options, and star power can add anywhere from millions to a car’s price tag all the way down to absolutely nothing. So when a Mustang owned by distinguished former ambassador to North Korea, Jean Claude Van Damme co-star, and nose ring enthusiast Dennis Rodman sold on Bring a Trailer this week, we watched closely.

Just 18 bids and $47,775 later, though, it appears that even five NBA championships and two Defensive Player of the Year awards couldn’t help this used car bring any more than mediocre money for the model. That extra Detroit Piston (eight under the hood and one behind the wheel) just didn’t add any power.

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Rodman’s ride isn’t just a normal ’89 Fox body. It’s a Saleen from 1989, the same year “The Worm” won his first championship and first Defensive Player of the Year playing for Detroit. Though not as famous, Fox-body Saleens are a lot like the Shelby Mustangs of the ’60s in that they came from a racer-turned-carmaker who transformed Ford’s bread-and-butter pony car into an unapologetic, track-ready corner-carver. For emissions reasons, early Saleens left the engine alone but added stiffer springs, Bilstein dampers, alloy wheels, stickier tires, nifty custom FloFit seats, and a body kit with bright graphics. Ford put them on the showroom floor right alongside LTDs and Tauruses, and Saleen Mustangs even came with a Ford factory warranty.

Being an expensive product from a small operation (an ’87 Saleen conversion cost over 20 grand compared to $13,000 for a normal LX), it wasn’t a big seller. Only people with deep pockets (like pro athletes) could justify that kind of ’Stang spending. Production totaled just a few dozen in some years, and even Saleen’s peak of 1988-89 saw little more than 700 cars annually. Meanwhile, Ford moved more than 400,000 of its own Mustangs in that time.

By 1989 (the 25th anniversary of the Mustang), Saleen had begun adding power in addition to the suspension and cosmetic goodies found on earlier products. The company made the usual hot rod tweaks to create the Saleen SSC (Saleen Super Car) model, the fastest new Mustang you could buy at the time. A larger throttle body, upgraded intake, new exhaust with high-flow cats, and other improvements bumped power from 225hp in the base car to nearly 300—big figures at the dawn of the ’90s.

Rodman’s car is #121 of the 161 Saleen SSCs built for 1989, sold new at Avis Ford in Michigan, finished in Oxford White with gray trim over gray and white leather. Other than a copy of a Texas title (Rodman grew up in Dallas) and a photo of him in front of a couple of Saleens, there isn’t much history represented and it’s unclear how long Rodman owned it. It’s also far from showroom fresh, with 87k miles showing, plenty of wear and tear, a replaced windshield, and several modifications including Borla mufflers and an X-pipe, a strut tower brace, modified suspension, and another set of wheels.

Fox-body (1979-93) Mustangs in general have shot way up in value over the past several years, but Saleens have accelerated at a faster clip and super-rare models like the SSC can be seriously expensive. The prior two SSCs to sell on Bring a Trailer brought $93,975 and $74,130, respectively. Yet this one, owned by a guy the NBA calls “arguably the best rebounding forward in NBA history,” brought less than the car’s condition #4 (Fair) value in the Hagerty Price Guide.

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When it comes to celebrity cars and their value, there’s no exact science, but there is a basic formula. For star cachet to add major digits to a price tag, the owner needs to be household-name famous or close to it, and the owner needs to be known as a car person. Then there’s originality, whether the car itself is an interesting make/model, how much of a real connection it had to its famous owner, and when they owned it.

As for Dennis Rodman and his fast Ford, it just doesn’t tick enough of the boxes. Rodman is indeed very famous. You don’t have to be a basketball fan to remember the dyed hair bad boy on the court with the Pistons or his winning years with the Bulls. But even though he bought and probably sold this car well before some of his less-endearing antics, he’s famous for a lot of the wrong reasons.

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And none of those reasons include him being into cars. He apparently does like motorcycles and has had some cool cars (including a Porsche 993 Turbo), but pretty much every high-profile athlete buys a cool car or two or five. Finally, although Rodman bought the car when his career was on the upswing, there were no representations from the seller on BaT how long he owned it or how much he traveled in it. At 6’7”, the SSC would’ve been a tight fit, so one’s left to wonder how many of the 87,000 miles Rodman put on the car.

In the end, it’s a rare but used car that sold for rare but used car money. The history, whatever it is, with a basketball great like Dennis Rodman is just a free bonus and a good story. And if a pair of his teammate’s old shoes can sell for $2.2M, it almost starts to look like a good value. A seller’s airball can be a buyer’s swish.


  • Jason Johnson says:

    About the Dennis Rodman Mustang story. I disagree and it seems to make Rodman and basketball seem like a joke. I think whoever sold that car dropped the ball. In the right market and promotion, that car would sell for a lot more. The story makes it seem like basketball is a joke and doesn’t bring value. Find a rich Bulls fan. You’ll triple your money. They are definately out there.

  • Glenn Hargrove says:

    I think it probably lost some value due to Rodman’s ownership. Who the heck wants a car that weirdo owned?

  • Gary Bechtold says:

    As a Bulls fan and a Mustang fan I’d be concerned about whatever DNA might be scattered around that vehicle. I like Saleen’s but I’d pass on this one.

  • Ken Sousa says:

    I’m a Mustang fan. I worked for a Ford subsidiary and was eligible for an executive lease car when the Fox Body was introduced in ’79. My feeling ten and my feeling now about this Saleen SSC is “meh”. I was actually happy to turn in both my ’79 Mercury Capri and my ’80 Mustang Turbo at the end of the model years. I still have a ’69 Mustang convertible and have out dragged several Foxes, SN95s and a couple of Saleens both on the dragstrip and on the street. As you pointed out, the early Saleens were little more than stock GTs with beefed suspensions. BTW, my ’69 is just a “built” 302.

  • Roro says:

    You would have to pay me to take his car..

  • Christopher Aaron Orange 💯 says:

    Yo,,, whatup Rodman. Good one , the Saleen fox body , good ride 121 numbered I like it and I’m straight Chevrolet. I gotta redline 2016 Chevrolet truck RCR vin # bad fast truck factory 376hp. Sitting on 400hp dual fans big 5.3L , 6.2L block bad shit Chevrolet engineering at its best . Baller…

  • paul s murray says:

    I wouldn’t pay an extra dollar for a car because it was owned by a celebrity/athlete unless by an athlete you mean a serious racer. Rodman? Who f’n cares? Is this guy at all relevant ? If I were to ‘pony up ‘ some extra bucks I’d rather have a Mustang that was owned by say Tom Gloy. At least I’d have the satisfaction of being able to cut the wheat from the chaff and know if, when name dropping, I was talking to a serious car enthusiast or some idiot who just watches reality TV car shows . Yea, go ahead and buy some 22 inch ‘hoops’ for your car instead of putting on a fresh set of pads. If you’d turn down the stereo once and a while you’d hear those brakes screaming moron.

  • Matt says:

    If he sold it for that price. He got a lot for the car. I haven’t seen a fox body mustang sell for that price. Let alone I haven’t even seen a Shelby fox body

  • Flatop. says:

    He was his own man (thingie) and had the money. For me the bottom line is NOPE.

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