The love affair with my Capri started way back in the winter of 2007, what was to start as an act of rebellion soon turned into a true love story. I had just come out of a long term relationship and was seeking to enjoy myself and redefine things. The ‘ex’ would of hated anything loud and brash; I’d never have gotten away with owning a ‘bad boy’ car, so now was my chance.
I started hunting on eBay and owners club websites for something big, loud, fast and most importantly iconic, cars like; the 205 GTi, Fiesta XR2, Escort XR3 and the Renault 5GTT all crossed my mind, but never really seemed to tick all the boxes. Then while a bit tipsy on the 30th of December I remembered something; a memory of a car my uncle had when I was a child and pictures of a car my grandma had when my mother was a child; the long bonnet, the power bulge, twin head lights and the burble of a V6 under the hood. That’s what I wanted, rear wheel drive, loud and naughty; it was perfect.
Two Hours and lots of eBay searches later I found what I wanted, a stunning silver, 2.8 V6 with a big exhaust, final few moments of the auction and my internet died! I’d lost out, all hope was lost then I spotted another , under one minute left to go, hardly any time to even read the description, flying blind, it was a 2.8 injection special, it was taxed and tested and it had to be mine. Before I knew it I was the winning bidder, “Congratulations you are the winning bidder”. Oh no what had I done, what if it is a total shed?
The Ford Capri 2.8 injection special – a shed or a bargain?
The very next day, New Years Eve, I was on my way with my friends dad to Sheffield to see what I had got myself into. Coming down their street I could see it on the drive way, perfect crystal blue in colour almost as fresh as it was the day it was made. There were no rust, it was a dream come true. Money changed hands and I was on my way back home, I must have been grinning like a nut case all the way, I remember every car that passed me; people looked, waved and smiled. You could see people’s dads saying to their kids “I had one of them!”
I never bought it as a weekend toy, this was my every day car, and I was going to enjoy every moment of it. Sadly my neighbours didn’t share the love of my Japspeed exhaust and by January the 3rd I already had a letter from the council telling me I would have to stop using the car in the morning and at night or I would be issued with an ASBO. The only part of that which annoyed me was that I didn’t use it outside normal hours; I certainly wasn’t sitting outside at 7am revving my engine!
The Capri doing what it does best – making smoke!
It was now 2009 and I was having problems. January 2009 my head gasket failed, I didn’t have a garage to work on it in and I couldn’t afford to pay somebody else to do it, so out in the snow drifts and freezing cold I took it all apart and rebuilt it. All the locals thought I was bonkers for doing it in one of the coldest winters we have had but it needed to be done.
Commitment to the cause – the 2.8 V6 rebuilt in the snow
It was fixed but it wasn’t long before it went again, this time at a friend’s house 200 miles from home. Chris and I spent 27 hours rebuilding the engine, making sure everything was perfect. That was one of the worst but most rewarding days of my life, but even that was short lived.
Within another month electrical problems started. It was getting fuel but no spark so I changed the coil and it came back to life but a week later it died again. I changed the ignition module and it lasted a week until it died again. This time it wouldn’t come back to life; nothing I did seemed to work.
I remembered something I had thought about when the head gasket blew; pull the 2.8 lump out and drop in something bigger, better, louder and faster. A 2.9 Cosworth BOB engine is what I needed and so I started the hunt for an engine but I found something better than just an engine, I bought an entire 1996 Ford Scorpio cosworth 2.9 v6 for only £300. What a bargain! A week later and the engine was out and gave me an insight into just how hard I was driving my car, the clutch was in half with no sign of the missing part. I also found out what the cause of all my problems was it all came down to a 12 quid relay under the dash. I needed to get the cossie lump in now and then all that was needed was a loom and an ECU. After a month or so it was all wired in and ready to go and I had my first drive of it.
192bhp/203fl.lb of torque of shear Cosworth goodness!
What a monster I had made, the engine suited perfectly to the Capri with nice low revs in 5th; I could cruise all day at 70(ish) mph and never get over 2.5k rpm. Hit the loud peddle and drop the clutch and it was a totally different beast to how it used to be. Chasing my friend around Derby in his mint 2.8 I could keep up with him and only use half throttle.
Sadly all these outdoor winters had played hell with that mint bodywork. It needed a finish to match the new grunt it had. For me it was an easy choice, I only really had one colour in mind even if I did toy with the idea of things like ST Orange or Mercury grey; it had to be Ultimate green from the new Focus RS. Almost as soon as I had the car home I started the prep work for the respray, flatted all the panels and removed some rust. Bit of filler to smooth things out, and off to the spray booth we went.
The Capri awaiting the lairy green
The finished result was a shock to say the least, when we wheeled her outside for the first time in her new paint I’ll admit I had a moment of doubt. Maybe I had made a mistake but I had done it now. The colour was just insane to look at, such a vivid bright green, SO green in fact that parked outside the house it actually made the house look green when the sun hit the car. I spent 3 days sanding and polishing and I knew I had made the right choice.
The Ultimate Green turns this into a weapon you wouldn’t mess with
Next thing was wheels, the standard 7 spoke injection alloys are nice, but not what I wanted for my car now. I needed something with a big dish; nice and wide for some fat tyres. Ebay came to my rescue again and 140quid later I was the owner of 4 brand new 8 inch wide Superlite alloys.
The Superlite Alloys and Cooper Cobra GT radials add that finishing touch of Old Skool.
Now I needed the right tyres, I wasn’t about to stick any old bland rubber to these baby’s, given the 13 inch size and 8 inch width finding anything decent was hard. I had a vision in mind and nothing less would do; I wanted big fat American tyres with raised white letters, Cooper Cobra GT radials to be exact. Quite a tall order it seems as every place I tried said they cant get them any more, that nobody can import them to the EU because of the ‘dirty oil’ used to make them. Lots of time searching the internet paid off and I found a small company down south that had a set of 4 in; the only 4 as it happened. I couldn’t get my wallet out fast enough; best bit was they gave me a great discount on them for being in the trade.
I still look at the car now and think wow is that really mine, that somehow I can’t quite believe that this beautiful machine is all mine.
Utter perfection – What’s not to like?
It’s not an understatement when I say I LOVE my car; she even has a name ‘Darla’. Even my long suffering partner knows that this is a love triangle. I won’t sell her no matter how often people ask (almost every time I stop at a petrol station).
I had a very close call recently however, my business was broken into and we had our entire stock stolen. The building is normally home to Darla, but that weekend was Ford Fair and when I got back on the Sunday night I didn’t take her to the warehouse, she stayed at home with me. If I had done, I might never have seen her again.
I’m still not really finished with Darla yet, next on the list is a new interior and then who knows…..
You can follow Matthew here