1980 McLaren M81 Mustang
Offered by Mecum | Indianapolis, Indiana | May 12-20, 2023
Is this a McLaren or a Ford? Well, kind of both. The Fox-Body Mustang debuted for 1979 to replace the much-unloved Mustang II. It was a return to the Mustang’s true self, and Ford wanted to prove they were serious, so they teamed up with McLaren Performance to build a special Mustang.
These started as a regular Mustang until they were sent to McLaren, where their turbocharged, 2.3-liter inline-fours were torn apart and rebuilt to a higher spec by McLaren. This bumped output from 132 horsepower to 175. They also received steel fender flares, a pretty crazy hood, functional brake ducts, and BBS wheels. This particular one is the only one with a four-speed manual gearbox (the rest had five-speeds).
The plan was to build about 250 of these with a price tag of $25,000. But Ford formed their Special Vehicle Operations team, and the SVO Mustang was soon on its way. Only 10 M81s ended up being built, and this was the original prototype that was also used as a dealer demonstrator. It is one of seven finished in Bittersweet Orange.
This is a pretty special car, and the most special Fox-Body Mustang there is. It’s also the missing link between the McLaren sports cars of the 1960s and the outrageous supercars of the 1990s and 2010s. Click here for more info.