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When Is a McLaren Not a McLaren? When It's a Ford Mustang

A 1989 ASC McLaren Mustang convertible, in this case.

What if we told you that you could be the new owner of a lightly used McLaren convertible for less than the price of a brand-new economy car? It's true, but you might be a little surprised at what you've purchased. Case in point, this 1989 ASC McLaren Mustang convertible, which is being offered by Barrett-Jackson at their 2020 Scottsdale auction next week.

A McLaren Mustang? Let's back up a little bit. In 1984, Ford joined forces with ASC McLaren (no connection to McLaren F1) to create a special version of the Mercury Capri coupe, itself a badge-engineered—albeit slightly more luxurious—Ford Mustang. The modified car consisted mainly of look-fast bits such as a flashy blue and orange paint job, a subtle body kit, bespoke wheels, and all the ASC McLaren graphics buyers could handle. ASC McLaren modified the cars from stock in its facility and while performance enhancements were few, ASC McLaren did see fit to install custom-rate springs and dampers along with BF Goodrich performance tires. ASC McLaren versions cost about $4,000 more than the standard Capri, while the Capri itself was already significantly more expensive than its Mustang cousin.

By the end of 1986, the Mercury Capri was phased out of production and the ASC McLaren tie-up shifted to the Mustang line. Between 1987 and 1990, slightly more than 1,800 Mustang coupes and convertibles were converted to ASC McLaren spec. It was still primarily an appearance package, although new convertible models were given slightly more customization with a windshield that was raked back a further 20 degrees. Other changes included the removal of the rear seat, making the ASC McLaren Mustang a strict two-seater; they also had a revised body kit, a three-window soft top, five-slot directional wheels by Enkei (installed backwards on this car on at least one corner, as visible in photos), and a reupholstered interior with blue leather. One quirky feature: While the soft top is operated manually, a metal tonneau to cover the folded roof is electrically actuated. Why were so few built? A well-optioned ASC McLaren Mustang cost some 50 percent more than a standard Mustang GT, and you can bet more than a few Mustang buyers of the day thought Formula 1 was something you put in a baby bottle.

The 1989 ASC McLaren Mustang convertible offered by Barrett-Jackson is from the second-to-last year of production and one of just 289 built for its model year. While the car's odometer suggests it's covered just over 51,000 miles, the car has been repainted once in its original Keweenau White paint (this shade would later be renamed Crystal White on the 1995-2001 Mustang). The Ford 5.0-liter High Output V-8 was the same used in the Mustang GT and produced 225 horsepower, nearly as much as a 1989 Chevrolet Corvette. This car is equipped with the optional 140-mph speedometer (an $88 charge on the invoice), and Mustang GT suspension with the unique Quadra-Shock system that incorporated two vertical and two horizontal shocks in the rear. This car also has the $353 keyless-entry option and still retains all its original keys and documentation.

How much will this 1989 ASC McLaren Mustang convertible bring at the 2020 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction? There's no reserve on this listing (as with most Barrett-Jackson auction cars) so the high bid will take it home regardless of price. That said, expect to pay less than the $27,000 or so a base four-cylinder 2020 Mustang EcoBoost will run you.

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