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Inside Move: Hot rods zip into pix

Saleen cars are God's choice in 'Almighty'

It’s somewhat absurd to call Saleen Inc.’s 550-horsepower, 7.0-litre V8-engined S7 supercar an underdog, but in Hollywood, that’s what it was — until recently.

Without representation by any agency (William Morris reps GM; Endeavor has Maserati) boutique automaker Saleen, which produces about 1,100 cars a year, has managed to land a trifecta of high-profile pic appearances.

Its cars are featured in U’s “Bruce Almighty” and “2 Fast 2 Furious” and in Revolution’s “Hollywood Homicide.”

And it leapfrogged Toyota Motor, which has an ersatz first-look deal to place its cars in U pics.

“They basically were looking for what kind of car God would drive,” says prexy Steve Saleen. “And they decided that He would probably drive the fastest production car in the world.”

This might account for why Jim Carrey pilots the $400,000 Saleen S7 (accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and reaching 240 mph). But how did Saleen’s other creation, the S281, get screen time as Josh Hartnett‘s and Harrisson Ford‘s wheels in “Hollywood Homicide” and a supporting role in “2 Fast 2 Furious”?

“2 Fast” producer Neal Moritz says the Saleen fit the pic’s street-racing themes as “just a really cool, attainable car that people want.”

Saleen landed in the “Fast” lane thanks to its cool factor, but Mitsubishi put up $25 million in promotional support and cars to be the ‘hero car’ of “2 Fast,” — about $25 million more than Saleen did.

“Homicide” helmer Ron Shelton also opted for the cool factor.

“We had other offers from other car companies like Cadillac offering money to promote the film,” says Shelton, “(But) this is a good L.A. car — the kind of car that a cop who grew up in the Valley and worked on cars his whole life would buy if he didn’t have a mortgage or a wife and kids.”

The final score: cool 3, corporate America 0.

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