Last July, Steve Saleen, the Southern California designer of souped-up Ford Mustangs and eponymous supercars, walked onto a strobe-lit stage at Beijing National Stadium to launch a new line of vehicles for the Chinese market.
During a 90-minute spectacle featuring techno beats, mesh-clad dancers and an appearance by the British action star Jason Statham, Saleen introduced himself as an automotive legend whose partnership with Chinese state investors would inject “supercar DNA” into high-end sedans, coupes and an SUV aimed at younger drivers.
A year later, that flashy vision has veered disastrously off track.
Saleen’s Chinese backers have accused his business partner of fraud and embezzlement and taken over the company, freezing its accounts and forcing hundreds of employees out of work. Police raided the sprawling new factory emblazoned with