Eric English
March 1, 2009
Despite a lackluster performance during Daryl's first dragstrip experience, a more comical story is his report of the tech inspector's request to raise the windows and top on the '87 before racing. Apparently there was an expectation that it would all rise from the area currently housing an electronics store's supply of stereo, whereupon Daryl had to explain, "Uh, sir-there are none!"

Horse Sense:
While Daryl's '87 is one unique ride, it's far from the first two-seat Fox. Melvins may remember the convertible '84-'86 Mercury Capris and '87-'90 Mustangs built by ASC/McLaren. These highly modified machines, which amazingly began life as hardtops, had just two seats as well. Of course, they also had a fully functioning top and HVAC system!

When you live in a part of the world that averages 44 inches of precipitation and more than 200 cloudy days each year, is there anything logical about owning a car without a top? We're not talking about an ordinary convertible here-rather, through customization, a Mustang with no roof whatsoever.

On the surface, of course, going topless under such conditions makes no sense at all-that is unless you're a certifiable nut like 29-year-old Daryl Carpenter. The truth is, this Vancouver, British Columbia, resident is little different than many of you readers with dedicated race cars, show cars, or other Saturday-night Mustangs. Most of these machines are of extremely limited use, and in such company, building a car without protection from the elements seems about as sensible as anything else.

Instead of racking up the miles by the tens of thousands, Daryl's pride and joy makes it's mark with the quality of the drive, not the quantity. That it has no top, side windows, air conditioning, or even a heater confirms this is a Mustang built to be enjoyed exclusively during the best weather the Pacific Northwest has to offer. While days like those may be relatively rare in Daryl's neck of the woods, taking the wheel when the opportunity presents is an experience to be savored. How often does the rubber meet the road? More often than you might think, as Daryl reports logging about 2,000 miles on the clock since the car's completion over 18 months ago.

Daryl laughed as he related overhearing a curious onlooker at a local car show. Viewing Daryl's engine compartment, the individual opined, "I don't like the clean look." Huh? To each his own, but we think the clean look beats clutter every time! While it doesn't get much cleaner than the Vortech blown 306-incher you see here, it could also be said that Daryl embraces a minimalist approach-note the lack of power steering or brakes.

You may or may not be able to tell from our pictures, but it was a perfect evening when we rendezvoused to take pictures of this truly unique '87 in the summer of 2008. Taking it all in and enjoying the glow of the late-day sun, Daryl's topless decision seems to make perfect sense; it becomes easy to see why he's chosen the course seen herein. The operative phrase here is "easy to see why," because the several-year build of the convertible was certainly no easy task.

Daryl's introduction to Mustangs occurred when, as an 18-year-old, he purchased and began modifying an '89 GT convertible. It was the typical stuff, and through the connections and friendships that developed, Daryl became acquainted with the talented Brett Halbert. When an untimely wreck spelled the end for Daryl's first car, he bought it back from the insurance company for parts and began searching for the building block from which to create something special. After finding a super-straight four-cylinder 'vert for his purposes, he dove in headfirst, stripping the car to the shell in a warehouse he now shared with Brett and a few other B.C. Mustang fanatics. Progress was slow for several years as Daryl worked to establish himself in the professional world as a commercial property manager. In the meantime, he tapped into the talents of Al Nifer for the necessary bodywork and underhood smoothing, then had Dustin Fishbook spray the whole thing-top to bottom-in a two-stage, Porsche-sourced Champagne hue.

With momentum finally building, Daryl turned to Brett in 2006 for a majority of the reassembly and custom mods. By now, Brett was building cars full time at his Langley, British Columbia, shop, Creationz Speed and Sound. As for the leftover parts from the previous convertible, Daryl admits little was reused as the project morphed exponentially. "I think the only thing I ended up using was the intake," says Daryl. That would be an Edelbrock Performer, which sits atop a Vortech S-Trim charged 302 screwed together by Toni Handlen. Amazingly, it still sports a 3.00-inch stroke-albeit via an Eagle forging-while Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads take valve commands from a FRPP B303 cam. Fuel is supplied to 42-lb/hr injectors by Aeromotive's comprehensive Eliminator system featuring a sumped tank, an Eliminator pump, stainless lines, billet rails, and more. It's surely overkill for Daryl's current needs, but it's ready should he ever step up to big-inch/big-boost power.

With an intent to spend quality time behind the wheel in this show-worthy steed, Daryl opted to row his own with a Tremec six-speed, teaming it with 3.73 gears and an Eaton 31-spline posi. Suspension and brakes weren't ignored either, with QA1 products throughout, and one of Baer's four-wheel disc setups-this one featuring PBR pin-drive front calipers.

Time in the cockpit is plenty entertaining with the performance equipment we've listed, but Daryl couldn't resist having Creationz work some magic in the stereo department as well. As the name might imply, the company does plenty of audio work, and fabrication whiz Dave Garcia whipped up a custom rear enclosure where the rear seat once resided. Featuring three Hertz Mille ML3000 subs on his backside, Hertz MLK 165 component sets in the door panels, and Audison Chrome Shadow amps in the custom tonneau cover, Daryl has no shortage of quality sound.

The tunes no doubt came in handy during Daryl's six-hour round-trip journey for our photo shoot, lending considerable credibility to his show-and-go theme. Also commendable is his only foray to date at the local 1,320 in Mission, British Columbia, where a lackluster 13.4-second e.t. is attributable to the rock-hard sidewalls of the 20-inch rubber and the owner's own admission of "I suck" as a dragstrip pilot.

No worries Daryl, it's hard to excel at everything right out of the gate. After nailing the killer car, we predict practice will help everything else fall into place.