Richard Spradling's 1988 ASC McLaren Mustang
Exactly how many variations can you get on a single theme? When it comes to Mustangs the limit is almost endless it would seem. Look at all the special editions being spun off the current S197 platform. From California Specials to Roush cars, Saleens and GT-Hs - there clearly is a steed for every need. Back when the Fox Mustang ruled supreme, the situation wasn't really that different. If you dug deep enough you could end up with a rather exclusive and unique Mustang-based automobile, like say a SVO or ASC McLaren.Say what? You mean you've never heard of the ASC McLaren Mustang? For whatever reason, these cars have largely slipped below the radar today, but were held with quite high regard during the late 1980s.
One person who hasn't forgotten about them is Richard Spradling. The North Carolina resident fell in love with them from the day they came out and of course, when the time came, began his search for one. "Back in 1989, when these cars were still hot, I was actively looking. I knew they were rare and exclusive.
"Ideally I wanted a five-speed ASC McLaren, most of the limited number of cars built have automatics, so a stick one was rarer than hen's teeth, but one day, while out driving near Smithfield NC, I saw this car sitting on a lot - it was a 1988 ASC McLaren so I decided to take a closer look." And when he did, sure enough, Richard found a manual gearbox lever nestled between the custom stitched leather seats.
Justifiably proud of his latest acquisition, Spradling took good care of the rare ragtop. "Although '88 was the highest production year for these cars, they still only built 1,015 of them that season." Understandably, with those kind of production numbers, Richard was perhaps a little reluctant to start playing around with the exclusive ragtop, choosing instead to enjoy it in original, as-built configuration.
But little by little Richard got the urge to modify this ride and you can probably guess what happened - Spradling decided to modify his ASC McLaren. "Some people may think I was crazy, considering how rare the car is, but I had owned it for such a long time that I felt I needed to do something. I was careful, from the very beginning I knew I didn't want to mess with the body or interior, but I felt that the chassis and driveline could use improvement." The unibody got its front and rear rails tied together by a set of Custom Performance subframe connectors and on went a brace between the front shock towers.
"It handled okay, but I wanted to take it to the next level." To that end, the '88 two-seater got a pair of Steeda adjustable upper control arms, Tokico five-way adjustable gas shocks, both front and back, along with a set of four Eibach Pro kit springs. Besides the suspension, the Mustang's braking system was also upgraded. "It may have worked in '88 but I knew that with the other upgrades I was planning I just had to do something about the stock brakes," says Spradling. So off came the 10.84-inch front discs and the 9.5 inch rear drums - in their place went a set of Baer 13-inch rotors and calipers on the front spindles and 12 inchers on the rear axles. A wheel change was essential, as were tires, to take advantage of the chassis and suspension upgrades. "I settled on some five-spoke ROHs - 17x8-inch on the front and 17x9s on the rear." To those rims were added Firestone Snyper tires - 235/45R17s on the front rims and 275/40R17s on the back ones - quite a substantial gain on the original Goodyear Eagle GT Gatorbacks that came on the car when it was new.