Why This McLaren Mustang Prototype Is the King of All Fox Bodies

Why This McLaren Mustang Prototype Is the King of All Fox Bodies

Photo: Ford

By now, we’re all familiar with and properly smitten by the Ford Mustang SVO – aka the thinking person’s Fox body – with its focus on lighter weight and superior handling. It accomplished this by ditching big displacement, going with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and adding a much sharper-tuned suspension.

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What if I told you that there was another Mustang, like the SVO, that elevated that same line of thinking to its illogical conclusion? There was, and it was built as a partnership by McLaren Engines (founded by Bruce McLaren as the US-based racing arm of McLaren) and Ford’s SVO team. It was supposed to be limited to around 250 examples, but a stratospheric (for a Mustang) price tag of approximately $92,000 in today’s money ensured that only 10 examples were ever built.

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The changes that Ford and McLaren carried out on the M81 prototype were myriad, and they’re well-outlined in this stellar article by Silodrome. For the Tl; Dr crowd, they included a fully ported and polished, balanced and blueprinted 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with an in-cabin manual boost controller. It also got big ol’ steel fender flares and a Koni suspension and BBS wheels, among other things. (The whole story is worth a read.)

While the McLaren Mustang was never going to be a success, it did pave the way for the SVO, the ASC McLaren Capri models, and, eventually, the awesome EcoBoost Mustang. So, let’s all pour one out for this near-Ferrari-priced pony and the angry turbocharged future it promised us.