1 of 247: 1989 ASC McLaren Mustang Roadster – Sold?

Sep 2020 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Topless Thursday

October 22nd Update: We just confirmed the Craigslist ad for this car expired and with no replacement listing found, we’re assuming this car sold.  This one may have got away, but if you have your heart set on something similar, email us the details of what you’re looking for or call Rudy directly at (908)295-7330

While the McLaren name today is synonymous with supercars and Formula One, in the mid-1980s the company looked to leverage its already significant racing heritage by offering improved versions of certain performance cars.  One example of 247 happens to be this Candy Red Metallic 1989 ASC McLaren Mustang originally listed in September 2020 on Craigslist in Conowingo, Maryland where the current caretaker is asking $10,500. According to the NADA Guides Classic Car Online Valuation Tool, this asking price sits just below the midpoint of the current “Low”, “Average”, and “High” retail value range of $7,575, $11,800, $16,900, respectively.

In the early 1980s, American Sunroof Company (“ASC”) was a growing “OEM” (Original Equipment Manufacturer) in the automotive industry doing convertible conversions and other limited editions of several different cars.  ACS’s relationship with the McLaren engine development branch of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing spawned a Capri coupe in the McLaren colors of blue and orange.  That limited edition car started the ASC McLaren series on the Fox-platform Mustangs and Capris built from 1984 through 1989.

Enter Peter Muscat.  He was an free-lancing engineer who knew ASC founder Heinz Prechter.  Peter came up with the idea of developing a two-seat roadster based on Mercury’s version of the Fox-Body Mustang, the Capri.  Prechter loved the idea and ASC took over the concept and developed it for series production with buy-in from McLaren to provide a number of styling and performance enhancements.

Apart from the famed 1965-1970 Shelby derivatives, ASC/McLaren cars were the only Mustang/Capris to be specially prepared for aftermarket conversion by Ford. Stock coupes received a body buck tag on their radiator support bar stamped “D32 ASC MCLAREN.” After said “Body in White” arrived at ASC’s factory, workers removed the steel roof, bent the A-pillars back nearly two-and-a-half inches, and then welded in a number of reinforcements in the rear seat area, under the windshield and along the transmission tunnel to add torsional strength back in.
The 5.0 SC retained the coupe’s distinctive blocky four-headlamp nose treatment and the IMSA GT-inspired flared fenders. The convertible offered two hidden storage compartments in the carpeted area where the coupe’s rear seat would be, and unlike the production Mustang convertible, the modified car’s top folded completely into the body, resting under a flush hard tonneau with a power release, like the contemporary Mercedes-Benz 380 SL. ASC’s shops completely repainted the modified cars, and also installed unique upgraded interior trim.
When ACS determined Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealers were more interested in an image car, they decided the stock 5.0-liter V-8 was already a good performer, and only modified the suspension. McLaren provided ACS with unique springs that lowered the vehicle one-and-a-quarter inches while Carrera 50/50 shocks provided better road feel.
The 5.0 SC used the Capri RS/Mustang GT’s 302-cubic inch high-output V-8 that by 1986 made 200 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 285 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm.  While the example featured here relies on a Borg-Warner T-5 five-speed manual transmission, as few as ten examples were built with the four-speed overdrive Ford AOD automatic transmission. Interestingly, the stock front disc/rear drum brake combination of the time remained in place.
The ACS McLaren Mustang featured a number of luxury touches that tried to make it rival the Mercedes SL of the day, right down to a similar-looking Haartz cloth, triple window, convertible top.  The combined cost of the conversion along with the new Mustang typically averaged in the $25K-$30K range, which is roughly the equivalent of $60K today.  Unfortunately, the high outlay was not enough to entice buyers so only 1,806 Ford Mustang and Mercury Capri examples were built during its short three-year run.

The MotorWeek Retro Review YouTube Channel has their review of the very similar 1986 ASC McLaren Capri posted:

About the only thing we don’t like about this rare Mustang is that it’s equipped with an automatic.  Otherwise, this ASC represents RADWood-eligible royalty that will likely get you top billing at one of their events.  Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1989 ASC Mclaren, Very rare car. Only 2 seat Mustangs ever produced #192 of 247 produced in 1989, 1 of 9 red on red, beautiful car. Marti report included only 43000 miles, never modified, 5.0 automatic, cold a/c, p/s p/b p/w. everything works as it should. runs and drives great. 10500.00

Do you have an ASC McClaren story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!


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