Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
September 6, 2007

Step By Step

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0612_mump_01z Mclaren_ford_mustang Front0612_mump_02z Asc_mclaren Wheels
Stacks of ASC/McLaren wheels, both used and new, line many of the shelves. These are "pumpkin orange" mesh wheels, as used on some ASC/McLaren Capris.
0612_mump_03z Asc_mclaren Stripes_decals
Huisman's supply of stripes and decals came straight from the ASC/McLaren factory.
0612_mump_04z Asc_mclaren Tonneau_trim
Need tonneau cover trim for a McLaren Mustang? Huisman has plenty of them, in various colors, in his rafters.
0612_mump_05z Asc_mclaren Leather
ASC/McLarens used unique leather upholstery. Huisman has complete seats as well as new seat covers.

I just like ASC/McLarens," is how Henry Huisman describes his affection for the two-seater Mustangs and Capris that were built from 1984-1990. He likes them so much that he purchased ASC's entire parts inventory, including much of the tooling, when the company disbanded the McLaren Mustang program after the '90 model year. Today, two metal buildings behind Huisman's home in north Tampa house his collection of McLaren cars and parts, which he sells to McLaren owners through his company, Paradise Automotive.

"I wanted to use ASC/McLaren in the company name," Huisman explains, "but McLaren didn't approve. Hopefully, Florida doesn't have a trademark on the word Paradise."

In the '70s, while living near Detroit, Huisman actually worked at American Sunroof Corporation (ASC), where he installed electric sunroofs in new Fords, including Lincolns, Thunderbirds, and Mustangs. It was through his old contacts at ASC that Huisman found himself loading tractor-trailers with McLaren parts for the trip south to his present home in central Florida. "I couldn't use them all myself," he says, "so I started selling them."

Huisman still has plenty of parts. With only 2,658 McLarens built-842 Capris and 1,806 Mustangs-demand isn't overwhelming. However, if you own an ASC/McLaren and need a part, Huisman likely has it stashed on his shelves. Roaming the tightly packed aisles of shelving, we spotted stripe kits in various colors, emblems, moldings, rubber seals, stacks of wheels (both the earlier mesh versions and the later directionals), bucket seats, leather upholstery, tonneau covers, consoles (unique to McLarens due to the two-seater configuration), hoods, and ground effects. He even has huge rolls of upholstery material, enough to keep McLaren owners rolling in fresh seat covers for decades.

Complete cars are stored in building two. Most are keepers, like the first production McLaren Mustang, with only 1,000 miles on the odometer, and the Coral Red Metallic, or what Henry calls "pink," '90 that was built for an ASC executive. There's also Henry's "Restoration Row" with cars that are restorable and "Death Row," which are basically parts cars. Two McLaren Mustangs, a gold '89 and a white '90, are used for Henry's everyday transportation.

Henry's link to McLaren is not restricted to the past. He is currently working with Peter Muscat, who originally created the ASC/McLaren Capris and Mustangs, to develop a retractable hardtop for the current Mustang. The first prototype has been completed and is currently undergoing product and production feasibility tests.

In the meantime, if you need parts, new or used, for a McLaren Mustang or Capri, just call Henry.

Step By Step

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0612_mump_06z Asc_mclaren Mustangs
Building two at Paradise Automotive holds Huisman's collection of low-mileage, rare, and special ASC/McLaren Mustangs and Capris.
0612_mump_07z Asc_mclaren Tools
When ASC offered to sell Huisman its leftover ASC/McLaren inventory, he grabbed all of it he could, including tooling such as these for headlight covers and rear storage area.
0612_mump_08z 1987_mclaren_ford_mustang Front
The first of anything is always special. This is the first production McLaren Mustang, car number 001 from 1987. Better yet, it has only 1,000 miles.
0612_mump_09z 1984_mclaren_capri Front
In addition to the first McLaren Mustang, Henry also owns the first-ever McLaren, an '84 Capri with 6,000 miles on the odometer.
0612_mump_10z 1990_mclaren_ford_mustang Front
Huisman calls it "pink," although the official name for the flip-flop paint on this '90 ASC/McLaren Mustang is Coral Red Metallic. The car was built for an ASC executive who spotted the color on a Porsche that ASC was building for an auto show.

A McLaren Primer
The ASC/McLarens were created by Peter Muscat, who owned a custom shop in Detroit. His wife worked for Ford, and when she was told that she couldn't park her Mercedes SL in the employee parking lot, she asked her husband to convert an '80 Mustang coupe into a two-seater convertible, complete with a European-like canvas top that folded beneath a hard tonneau cover. Muscat showed the car to Ford, but because an '83 Mustang convertible was already planned, the idea was shuttled over to Mercury for the Capri.

To build the cars, Muscat approached ASC, a company well-known for building one-off or low-volume convertibles. ASC then brought McLaren on board to assist with the design and construction, which required considerable modifications to the Capri hatchbacks. Priced at $21,000, or about the same price as a Lincoln Mark VII, the ASC/McLaren Capris understandably ran into price resistance from potential customers, resulting in rather lackluster sales, even when ASC/McLaren offered a stripped-down EuroCoupe version as a regular hatchback.

The ASC/McLaren Capri was offered through Mercury dealers in both roadster and coupe body styles in 1984, 1985, and 1986. When the Capri was phased out after 1986, the ASC/McLaren program was switched to the Mustang as a two-seater convertible only for the '87 model year. Not surprisingly, sales of the ASC/McLaren Mustang in 1987 nearly reached the three-year total for ASC/McLaren Capris. A total of 1,806 Mustangs were built during the four years of production; 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990.

Thanks to Ford's blessings, each ASC/McLaren Mustang started life on the Ford assembly line as a black 5.0 sedan instead of a convertible as you might expect, because it was easier for ASC to chop off the roof than adapt a ragtop. From Ford, the sedans destined for ASC/McLaren conversion received convertible chassis bracing and a GT front fascia. At the ASC facility in Livonia, Michigan, the roof was removed from windshield to trunk, additional bracing was added, and the windshield was literally bent back 20 degrees for a sleeker appearance. ASC also added the Cambria cloth top, similar in texture to those found on expensive European roadsters at the time, which disappeared beneath a tonneau. After the conversion, which included considerable sheetmetal work at the rear quarters and the addition of the ASC/McLaren ground effects, the cars were stripped and completely repainted using Sikkens colors in a monochromatic theme. In '87-'88, the factory Goodyear tires were swapped onto mesh wheels; for '89-'90, the wheels were Enkei directionals.

Inside, ASC reconstructed the rear-seat area with Corvette-like storage compartments, covered the factory GT seats with leather, and added a custom console that stretched into the rear compartment area.

Disagreements between Muscat and ASC over licensing and royalties marred the ASC/McLaren's final two years, resulting in low production (only 65 cars in 1990) and eventually the discontinuation of the program. Ford later borrowed the monochromatic paint theme for the yellow and white '93 Mustang Feature cars.

For more information about the ASC/McLaren cars, visit the Web site at www.ascmclaren.org.

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ASC/MCLAREN PRODUCTION
{{{Capri}}}Convertible{{{Coupe}}}
19845025
1985257150, plus 30 {{{Grand Prix}}} IV
1986245115, plus 47 EuroCoupes
Totals552290
{{{Mustang}}}ConvertibleCoupe
1987479Not offered
19881,015Not offered
1989247Not offered
199065Not offered
Total1,806