By on August 28, 2017

Image: 1985 ASC McLaren Capri Convertible, image via seller

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 doing something completely different following the exact same formula, executed in a different way.

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

Image: 1985 ASC McLaren Capri Convertible, image via seller

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.

Image: 1985 ASC McLaren Capri Convertible, image via seller

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.

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

Image: 1985 ASC McLaren Capri Convertible, image via seller

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.

Image: 1985 ASC McLaren Capri Convertible, image via seller

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

Image: 1985 ASC McLaren Capri Convertible, image via seller

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.

Image: 1985 ASC McLaren Capri Convertible, image via seller

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.

Image: 1985 ASC McLaren Capri Convertible, image via seller

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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32 Comments on “Rare Rides: 1985 ASC McLaren Mercury Capri – the Fox Body Mashup...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    the Fox-platform Capri was only made until 1986.

    • 0 avatar

      Right you are, I forgot the later (terrible) FWD one from Australia. Should be fixed.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        My roommate had one of those FWD Mercury Capri roadsters my freshman year of college (which, for reference, was 2011-2012). When we would go to buy groceries, I used to have to hold the cabriolet top together while he drove. Then he swapped to a Mazda 323 with no power steering—good workout, his mother’s 2002 Tahoe, his uncle’s ’98 Saturn SL 5-speed…and eventually a loaded brand-new 2013 Challenger on which he committed himself to an $800 / month note.

        On the FWD Capri, I really don’t know why Ford bothered. It was ill-suited to our market. The NA Miata, which came a bit later and which would have been part of the FoMoCo family, blew it out of the water.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I think Ford knew Mercury’s customer base was aging right into the grave, and tried for a long time to bring “yuppie” buyers into showrooms. The Capri, the “new edge” Cougar, and Merkur were all aimed at this type of buyer. None were bad cars per se, but I have no idea what Ford was thinking when they tried to sell them as Mercurys.

          I don’t think the Capri was badly suited to the NA market – remember, there were a ton of two-seat sporty cars out there in the late ’80s – but it was certainly ill suited to Mercury.

          Ironically, I think they were on the right track with the Mariner.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Does it come with a parade boot?

    It’s just begging for a prom queen and a parade.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Not a McLaren, but somebody around here had a Capri convertible for a while: orangey red with a tan top. Haven’t seen it in a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I doubt it wasn’t a McLaren. They came in orangey red with tan, but remember Capris were just fast/hatchbacks only. There were no Capri convertibles (meaning topless notch-backs) to build off of.

      So it took a combination (cutting/welding) of Mustang and Capri body pieces at the factory or by ASC.

      pinterest.com/pin/446560119278757530/

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    As far as semi-official/partner company Fox body ‘Stangs sold through Ford dealerships, I always preferred the Saleen cars. 1989 was my favorite year:

    http://vpstestbringatrailercom.c.presscdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/1989-Saleen-SSC-Mustang-Rear.jpg

    By the way, I worked for Cars & Concepts in Brighton as an assembler of the factory convertible Mustangs during these years. They were fun cars, especially the ones bound for the Middle East that had no cats/emissions equipment!

    Almost forgot to mention that a friend owned one of these Capris at the time. He also had a DeLorean – what a pig that was – but the Capri was fun, and more rare than the Mustangs.

  • avatar
    MartyToo

    I’d love one of these but will never pull the trigger. Hats off to those who bought one. But it’s a pity there’s no McLaren engine.

  • avatar
    hirostates12

    By 89 they were selling off those rims in orange for $60 per. I replaced the original metric sized units on my Capri 5.0 with them after a respray. (The alternative was being forced to buy those lousy Micheline trx tires over and over again)

  • avatar
    dal20402

    “would not be difficult to keep clean.”

    Former basketweave-wheel Taurus owner says:

    AHHAHAHAHA

    HAHAHAHAA [collapses]

    HAHAH

  • avatar
    ajla

    “On offer via Streetside Classics”

    streetsideclassics.com/vehicles/0675-tpa/1996-chevrolet-caprice-classic

    Oh, man. A sub 100K miles 1996 Caprice with LT1, FE3, and G80.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      If that were any other kind of car, I’d say it had been hit on both ends. But those kind of finger-width panel gaps aren’t too out of the ordinary for a bubble.

    • 0 avatar
      MartyToo

      Designed by committee or by AI computer? The ugliest Caprice/Impala/SuperSport/BelAir/Biscayne to date. Now with the last of the Australian Chevies, we can hope for a more hideous design to kill the full size Chevrolet one last time. (I thought the bubble mobile killed it in ’91.)

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        I didn’t care for the “bubble” cars from GM at the time, but I’ve grown to appreciate its clean and simple style. Oddly, I think the Caprice in its higher trims was the better looking car.Especially the last few years when those brougham-y wheel skirts finally disappeared and the car got real rear wheel arches.

        Same goes for the last Riviera.

  • avatar
    operagost

    The steering wheel isn’t from a Cougar. The Cougar was Mercury’s signature model, so for a relatively short time in the 70s and 80s, in a confusingly Dodge Ram-like manner the cougar logo was used across the Mercury line.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Actually, that wheel is from a Cougar.

      http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Mercury/1985%20Mercury/1985_Mercury_Capri-Cdn_Brochure/1985%20Mercury%20Capri%20%20Cdn%20-04-05.jpg

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Do the Riv convertibles next.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      “fwiw, though, this price 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.”

      I was so close to buying an 85 Mustang GLX convertible V8, but there’s not that much love for what are known as “the four eyed cars”. A decent Mustang convertible from 83-86 is about 5-7k. I would think 12k for this Capri is about right, since it’s much more rare. Think about it crossing the block at Mecum in 10 or 20 years. I’m pretty sure you won’t lose money.

      As soon as the ’87 hit with the Five Point Oh, the values go up.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      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.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    “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?


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