Rare Rides: 1985 ASC McLaren Mercury Capri - the Fox Body Mashup

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides 1985 asc mclaren mercury capri the fox body mashup

Last time on Rare Rides we featured a V8-powered American muscle car that started out as a coupe and had the roof removed by an aftermarket company. Opinions of the Callaway Speedster were mixed, ranging from “meh” to “1990s meh.” So for this Rare Rides entry, we are [s]doing something completely different[/s] following the exact same formula, executed in a different way.

It’s a very special Mercury, at a much lower price point. McLaren anyone?

Back in the 1980s, the American Sunroof Corporation (now called American Specialty Cars) worked in cooperation with British high-performance company McLaren to come up with special versions of the Mercury Capri.

Unlike the Mustang’s all-American roots, the original Capri was a European creation. Starting life as a rebadged Ford Capri, the first generation ran from 1970 to 1977 and was built in Germany.

Similar to the Mustang, this Capri was a much less successful Mercury offering built on the versatile Fox platform. Between 1979 and 1986 you could head down to your Mercury showroom and check out a Fox-body Capri.

ASC was fond of removing roofs in whole or in part, and that’s what they did here. Not many special Capris were produced — the listing indicates less than 260 convertibles were made for 1985.

Special paintwork coats the modified body and is very era-appropriate.

Modifications were quite extensive in order to obtain the flush-fitting convertible look. The rear seats had to go, and much of the body required reconfiguration; even windshield rake got pushed back by 10 degrees. The Capri’s fabric top is unique to the model, and wouldn’t fit a Mustang convertible. Not sure if the Cougar steering wheel came standard.

The interior is suitably plush, with tweedy blue seats and plenty of [s]horribly fake[/s] period-accurate wood grain.

A familiar 5.0-liter Ford V8 rests under the hood, mated to a four-speed automatic. Don’t let the slushbox fool you — the ASC McLaren Capri was the quickest vehicle Ford sold in 1985. A special racing camshaft meant 0-60 times under six seconds, and quarter-mile times in the mid-13s.

All this rapid acceleration is motivated by special low-profile tires all around. Factory color-matched snowflake alloys were supplied by Campagnolo of Italy. They are fantastic, and would not be difficult to keep clean.

On offer via Streetside Classics, the Capri has under 52,000 miles, and is asking just $12,995. Surely a reasonable price for such a limited-run vehicle.

[Images via seller]

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4 of 32 comments
  • Stevelovescars Stevelovescars on Aug 29, 2017

    I have seen these come up for sale every so often. I seem to remember that the conversion also included leather Recaro seats as standard. This one definitely loses some if its wow factor with these flat cloth seats. I also recall that these were intended to appeal more to Mercedes SL buyers (similar hideaway folding too design) so I can't believe those seats are correct tonthe car unless it was some type of special order. fwiw, though, thisnprice doesn't seem insane as it isn't that much of a premium over a really clean low-mile 5.0 Mustang of the period.

    • See 1 previous
    • DenverMike DenverMike on Aug 29, 2017

      Some things don't look "right" on this car, not just the seats. It's likely not a good "investment" for the money they're asking. Four-eyed Mustangs are sure to increase dramatically in value, and I'd look for a pre '87 Saleen, mint condition.

  • 427Cobra 427Cobra on Aug 29, 2017

    "As soon as the ’87 hit with the Five Point Oh, the values go up." The Fox body was no stranger to the 5.0 prior to '87. I think it was mostly the "aero-body" styling of the '87-up foxes. It was new & fresh... futuristic. Unfortunately, a lot of the four-eyed foxes were re-fitted with the aero nose... Four-eyed foxes DO have their following (myself, among them), and are (slowly) increasing in value. The aero-bodied Foxes are a dime a dozen. I had an '86 Mustang GT convertible that I deeply regret selling... now searching for another... can someone say "Coyote transplant?" As for the steering wheel... the wheel looks like standard fox-body fare... same as on my '86 GT 'vert... only the horn button/center cap looks different. Maybe Cougar, but couldn't it also be lifted from the "Black Cat" Capri?

  • MaintenanceCosts Will the Bronco have a four-motor configuration a la Rivian? That seems to me like the right approach for an EV off-roader. Enables lots of neat tricks.
  • Lou_BC ERay? A southern model will be the BillyRay.
  • Lou_BC I've never used a car buying plan service. My Costco membership did get me 1,000 cash back on my last truck.
  • Jeff S I can understand 8 cars is a bit much unless you are a serious collector. I always loved the Challenger when it first came out and now. I don't need a car like this but I am glad it exists at least for 1 more year. If I had a choice between a Mustang, a Camaro, and a Challenger I would opt for a Challenger but probably with a V-6 since it has more than enough power for most and I don't need to be burning rubber. Challenger has the classic muscle car looks, more cabin room, and a decent size trunk which makes it very livable for day to day driving and for traveling. The base models of the Dodge Challenger has a 3.6-liter V6 engine that gives you 305 horsepower with 268 lb-ft torque. The car attains 60 mph from a standstill within just 6 seconds, which is quite fast. Even with their base engines, the Challenger and Camaro are lightning-fast. The Camaro reaches 165 mph, while the Challenger can go up to 11 mph faster!
  • Inside Looking Out I would avoid American cities if I can. European cities are created for humans and Americans for cars.