Yes, you read that headline right, McLaren – the motor racing powerhouse in Formula 1, Indycar and sportscar racing – once built its own special edition Ford Mustang. But only 10 were ever made and you now have a chance to own one.
But not just any of the 10, but the prototype that undertook the car’s USA-wide publicity tour. It’s one of the headline items from the upcoming Mecum Indy Auction.
So what is it? Well, back in the late 1970s Ford was looking to improve the image of its turbocharged four-cylinder Fox Body Mustang and turned to McLaren, which was then an Indycar constructor in the US. The McLaren Engine operation fettled the 2.3-litre engine and extracted 130kW of performance, which sounds modest by 2023 standards but back then it was more powerful than the 4.9-litre V8, which made only 103kW.
That wasn’t the only unique element that made the McLaren Mustang special. Ford’s then-new SVO division helped add an IMSA-inspired widebody kit, which included an aggressive bonnet and pumped out guards. There were also BBS alloy wheels, better brakes and Koni shock absorbers for better handling.
Inside, the McLaren version of the pony car got Recaro seats, Racemark steering wheel, Stewart-Warner instruments and even a rollcage.
The reserve price for this automotive oddity is listed at US$75,000-$100,000 ($112,000-$150,000), which is a lot of money for a 1980 Ford Mustang – but sounds pretty cheap to get yourself a genuine McLaren model.