Tuesday, May 3, 2016

2 American Specialty Cars (though one is Japanese and they're both American Sunroof Cars)

Today is all about featuring 2 cars you might walk by 100 times without realizing there's anything special about them. Both were parked in a soulless cul-de-sac around 63rd and West End in Manhattan where new buildings are popping up with zero evidence of what used to be there. Lincoln Center is nearby; in itself a massive edifice that replaced an entire neighborhood named San Juan Hill (I have a link at the bottom of this post with more info on the hood). If you want to see the old buildings watch West Side Story which was filmed in the empty but still standing condemned nabe. Enough with the tangent!
 Is that a Mustang?
Close! At first glance this is obviously a Mustang convertible, but there are subtle differences as you get a better look. What we have here is a 1987-1990 ASC McLaren Mustang Roadster.
ASC originally stood for American Sunroof Corporation (and was known by that name when this car was built) but they switched their identity and purpose to American Specialty Cars in 2004.
Legend has it that a guy named Peter Muscat from Detroit basically customized his own Mustang much like this and pitched it to ASC/McLaren who liked the idea and put it into limited production.
One major if subtle modification is a chopped windshield with a steeper rake than stock. The other mods include reducing it to a 2 seater, and fitting it with a hardtop tonneau cover for the folded roof. With the top down they look pretty sleek.
These roadsters started as Mustang coupes so it was much more invasive a procedure than just tarting up a convertible.That line of the tonneau cover is very close to the factory convertible opening, but the workings of this top with the lower height and rear seats omitted called for a coupe to start.
The taillights on every other ASC/McLaren Mustang I've seen have louvers on them, so I'm guessing all the taillights were replaced on this example. If this has been parked on the street for any amount of time I can see them being taken out by either a thief or parking misadventures.
Here's a grainy shot through the plastic 1/4 window into the luggage tray that takes place of the rear seats. There are hidden storage tubs located beneath the fuzzy sections directly behind the front seats.
You could easily be forgiven for thinking this was any old Mustang GT convertible for this year as the GT had similar ground effects. However there were only 1,806 of these conversions done over a 4 year period so they are rare. The sticker price was around $25,000 when new. The equivalent Mustang GT convertible was a cool $9,000 less! The mods were only cosmetic; the standard 5.0 V8 powered this beast.
The wheels are original and at least as rare as the car, if not more!
On to a slightly less exciting, more hooptie-ish ride:
Don't get too excited now! This is a 1992-1994 Nissan 240SX convertible in Scarlet. The 240SX 1st generation (which this is) is the darling of the drifter set. It had a near-perfect balance of front and back weight distribution coupled with rear wheel drive. Such a fun combination to drive! That is, until they had ASC chop the roof off to create this.
Much like the McLaren above, ASC started with brand new cars to configure into a convertible. As opposed to the Mustang this conversion was 100% factory authorized and implemented.
Look, she's been around. Scuffs, scrapes, peeling paint and straight-up dents pepper this ride.The license plate seems to have been moved to this side, probably after being destroyed by parallel parkers.
From this angle it looks a lot like the Mazda RX-7 convertible of the same era. The issue is that Mazda made their own convertible, ensuring that the body remained rigid, and that it had enough power under the hood. The 240SX, like the Mustang above, started life as a hardtop coupe. Somehow this didn't translate as well as the Mustang; the body flexed terribly on the track and the engine (MUCH smaller than the Ford 5.0) couldn't propel it out of its own way.
But don't tell the owner that! They saw fit to furnish this beast with a quick-remove steering wheel. Doesn't your Club seem inadequate now! Looks like the power windows are getting a much needed tearing apart too.
By the way the auto trans was the only one available in the convertible, further neutering this once-sports car.
This is by far its best angle, with only a couple major dents and a scrape along the side. The top looks new though.
The owner hooked it up with a fat coffee can exhaust so you can hear those ponies straining. Thank god for that wing or this would've probably flipped around 200mph.
Ugh; if a custom '90s Japanese ragtop can be a hooptie this is it. Don't get me wrong; I'd happily drive this thing as it is a convertible, as reliable as any Nissan from the era, and the mileage is probably pretty great. Still, it does look like a Mazda RX-7 and a Ford Probe had a child that got into fights.
For anyone interested in the story of the neighborhood that was razed for Lincoln Center this link is great:
San Juan razed for L.C.

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