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Seven years ago I began a project to restore my 1985 asc Mclaren coupe. The decision to start the project began about the time I slammed the poor car into a tree. (I was being very stupid that day). Feeling ashamed and guilty for nearly destroying a car that I knew must have been fairly rare, I decided to see if I could find any information on the vehicle and whether it was worth fixing.
(Flashback a few years). I had the car as a replacement for the 1967 Cougar XR7 that I had been driving around while in college (circa 1993). I had posted a few times to UseNet (the World Wide Web did not exist yet) and asked about the car only to get a few replies about how nifty ascMcLaren coupes were. No one knew any details other than some sketchy production numbers. I suppose I could have written to one of the trade mags but I didn't bother.
(Fast forward to the accident in late 1995). I decided, before selling the car for parts, I would see once again if I could get any info on the little beasty....and sure enough, the new WWW coughed up an old Venom report that listed a registry for the ascMcLaren cars. I called up Sanford (Sandy) Block and asked about the car. I gave him the VIN and ran him through the car's options. Sandy confirmed the car as an ascMcLaren Coupe.
Two things he said have since cost me A LOT of
money. His comments in effect were: "they were the only cars since
the Shelby's to be modified on the Ford assembly prior to conversion for a
third party"...and..."you have the earliest 1985 coupe VIN in the
registry"*. Damn if that didn't seal my fate
right there. To top it off he told me where I could spend my money on all
the ascMcLaren parts my little heart could want.
*since then a few earlier 1985s have been listed
So I looked the whole thing over and weighed the pro's and cons:
Things going for it:
Strikes against it:
Well, all sanity aside, I ignored the cons and still chose to restore the car. Everything that was wrong could be fixed and/or purchased with money. Looking back, if I could have purchased another 1985 coupe, I would have used my car for parts. But who knew where another coupe would surface? No one knew about these cars and those that did knew only about the convertibles.
During this time I also called Paradise Automotive in Florida ( www.ascMcLaren.com) and found out how little of the conversion package was left on the car. I spent some money and spent more money and spent even more money.
If you look at my ascMcLaren Parts page, you can see pretty much the entire list of ascMcLaren items.
So...its 1995, I need to fix the tree damage...I need a new Capri roof....I need a donor car. Well it seems that every last junkyard was crushing the old Mercury Capris. But I finally found a guy who had one...or so I thought. My dad and I showed up with the car trailer and sure enough its a Capri...just the wrong DECADE. It was 1975 Capri...I probably should have come back to get that one later but I knew nothing of those...somebody out there is probably hating me for it...they're pretty darn rare too. But I digress...
Well the junkyard guy felt bad and he called around some more and bingo...another hit. So we hot foot it over there and...jackpot!...a car with no engine or tranny or much else but a good roof. Well, I had to convince the guy to let me have it...he didn't like the idea since he was afraid I would fix it up. But after telling him my story and assuring him that the car's roof was going to be torn off for a roof cut, he let me take her.
So then the work began tearing the asc apart. Everything got pulled out of it. It went and got its roof chopped, the frame straightened and the new roof welded back in. By this time I had learned that Mustangs were just reskinned Capris, so I hunted down a decent dash out of a Mustang to replace the old crushed one, called around and got some good unmolested wiring harnesses and set to work putting her back together.
Well, now the time frame was probably around 1996-1997. Life took hold about the same time and there was a job, a wife and a move to Charlotte, NC and before I knew it, it was 2002 and my dad said, "Get that McLaren thing outta here!". But my dad knowing how much I liked the car, traded the old 1967 Cougar XR7 (which hadn't been driven for years) off to the neighbor if he'd reassemble the ascMcLaren.
The neighbor did a pretty good job of
reassembling the car. Everything worked and was looking pretty
Then off it went to Body Shop #1...where it sat and sat. So then we pulled it and went to Body Shop #2. The guy was a straight shooter and told me that he couldn't start to straighten out the doors and hatch. There were too many accidents and all the repairs were all crap. Amazingly, the only place that wasn't hit was the front. The idea was to take the front and section it onto a donor Capri. Fun Fun!
So I called around and put out feelers and got a lead on a straight Capri in VA. I got it for $500 and dad agreed to go down from NY and pick it up. A hurricane was coming through so dad zipped down and outran the storm coming back. The car turned out to be really really straight. Perfect.
Well, the car has FINALLY gotten through the autobody stage and sits in my garage in NC. She has been "assembled" once again but the interior needs major work. The engine/drivetrain are solid and run fine except for some carb work that needs to be done. Its still going to be alot of work. Some status pics can be found here.
© 2003-2005 Michael Negus All Rights Reserved.
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asc McLaren and Fox Bodied Mercury Capri Cars