When the factory musclecar era ended in the early 1970s amid high insurance rates and increasing safety issues, most of us were convinced we'd never see a high-performance car from Detroit again. But when Ford introduced the Fox-body Mustang for '79, it signalled a new era in pony cars, although it got off to a disappointing start with a vanilla two-barrel V-8 and an optional carbureted turbo four. In 1982, Ford hit the pavement with the Mustang GT. Four-barrel carburetion arrived in 1983. Roller tappets and shorty headers for 1985. Fuel injection in 1986 as horsepower and torque inched upward.
Automotive engineer Peter Muscat gave birth to the idea of a Mustang roadster in 1980 when he converted a notchback into a two-seat convertible with a canvas convertible top that retracted beneath a hard cover deck lid. When Muscat showed his idea to Ford, it was rejected because a Mustang convertible was already in the works from Cars & Concepts. Not one to be discouraged, Muscat took his idea to Lincoln-Mercury for the Capri, which needed a sales boost in the shadow of the Mustang's growing performance presence.
American Sunroof Company (ASC) was contracted to build the ASC/McLaren Capri roadsters in limited numbers. Just 552 were built during '84-'86, along with a handful of coupes.
When Capri production ended during the '86 model year, ASC/McLaren and Ford focused efforts on an ASC/McLaren Mustang for '87 with 479 produced Excitement caught on for '88 with 1,015 units sold. Production declined to 247 units for '89, followed by only 65 units for '90 when a disagreement between Muscat and ASC/McLaren put an end to production at mid-year.
According to www.ascmclaren.org, the '87-'90 ASC/McLaren Mustangs began life on the Dearborn assembly line as two-door notchbacks with convertible platforms. Roofs were cut off by laser at ASC and the A-pillars were inclined a few degrees rearward for improved aerodynamics, which meant trimming the door glass for proper fit. All were finished in Sikkens paint.
Olivia and Kevin Kymer's ASC/McLaren journey started when Kevin acquired an '85 ASC/McLaren Capri in red. "All those ‘oohs' and ‘ahhs' made me want one for myself," Olivia reflects. "In 2010, we met Mike Morrison. I called him ‘Mike McLaren' because he had a beautiful white '88 ASC/McLaren with just 20,000 miles. I would always tell him to put us first on the list if he ever wanted to sell."
Olivia would get her wish. In April of 2012, the Kymers purchased Morrison's low-mileage McLaren roadster and added it to their collection that includes the '85 ASC/McLaren Capri, '84 SVO,'89 LX 5.0L convertible, '03 Mach 1, and '69 hardtop.
Olivia tells us that Ford's order code for the McLaren option was D32. "The ASC/McLarens were built in groups and in no particular number," Olivia says. "Might be 100 units or it might have been 10. Where possible, orders were held until at least 25 units could be done as an order, but not always."
Olivia's ASC/McLaren is the quintessential Mustang ride in Keweenau White with the 5.0L HO, AOD, and Charcoal leather interior with articulating high-back bucket seats, ACS/McLaren graphics, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. On the ground are lacy spoke wheels in white and Goodyear Eagles. We like what ASC/McLaren did with the fluted Mustang GT taillights when it dressed them in black.
Olivia waited a long time for an unusual Mustang like this ASC/McLaren for '88. If we're any judge of the situation, she will be this Mustang's official steward for a long time to come.