Mof­fat’s Cologne Capri

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

The fac­tory-built RS3100 Cologne Capri raced by Al­lan Mof­fat in the mid 1970s was Aus­tralia’s wildest V6 Capri. To­day, it’s New Zealand’s wildest.

The fac­tory-built RS3100 Cologne Capri raced by Al­lan Mof­fat in the mid 1970s was Aus­tralia’s wildest V6 Capri. To­day, it’s New Zealand’s wildest.

The Capri RS3100 was the prod­uct of a heated arms race in the early 1970s in Europe be­tween Ford and BMW. Ford had been vic­to­ri­ous in the 1972 Euro­pean Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship with its Ger­man-built Capri RS2600, af­fec­tion­ately known as the ‘Plastik­bombe’ be­cause of its bul­bous bodywork flares. It was also known for its evil han­dling, but the RS2600 none­the­less was ef­fec­tive enough over­all to see off BMW’s stylish 2800 CS coupe. Per­haps it was the sense of shame in be­ing beaten by such an im­per­fect op­po­nent, but in any event BMW all of a sud­den got very se­ri­ous about win­ning the ’73 ETCC.

The now-clas­sic BMW 3.0 CSL (which re­placed the 2800 CS) formed the ba­sis of an amaz­ing Group 2 ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cial that would for­ever be known sim­ply as the ‘Bat­mo­bile’, on ac­count of its trade­mark huge rear wing. With the ex­tra down­force from that out­ra­geous aero pack­age, and a po­tent 3.5-litre upgrade to the in­line six-cylin­der BMW en­gine, the Bat­mo­bile had the fire­power to melt the Plastik­bombe…

If it was to stay in the ETCC fight, Ford needed to re­spond. The ex­ist­ing V6 in the RS2600 (de­vel­oped by Bri­tish en­gine tun­ing house Wes­lake) was al­ready at its up­per limit bored to 2.9-litres, so Ford had to look else­where for the 40kW power in­crease re­quired to match the BMW. The an­swer lay at Ford’s UK head­quar­ters, where Bri­tish-built Capris were fit­ted with a dif­fer­ent ‘Es­sex’ 3.1-litre V6 – this slightly larger en­gine could be taken out to 3.5-litres.

Cos­worth was charged with the task of de­vel­op­ing the Es­sex into a BMW beater. At the time there was prob­a­bly no bet­ter race en­gine com­pany in the world than Cos­worth, whose 3.0-litre Ford DFV V8 was the dom­i­nant en­gine in For­mula 1 even though it was an eight year-old de­sign.

A change to the Group 2 tour­ing car regs for 1974 al­lowed for the ho­molo­ga­tion of non­stan­dard cylin­der heads. This was an im­por­tant fac­tor, be­cause it al­lowed Cos­worth to in­cor­po­rate its sig­na­ture piece on the Capri en­gine – a pair of proper race en­gine-style quad-cam, four-valve alu­minium heads, just like the ones on its F1 DFV V8. The four camshafts and the Lu­cas fuel injection were belt driven by toothed pul­leys at the front of the en­gine. ‘Down­stairs’, they beefed up the bot­tom end with a four-bolt main bear­ing ar­range­ment.

While a 3.5-litre ca­pac­ity was achiev­able, Cos­worth’s de­sign team felt that bor­ing the blocks out that much might be stretch­ing the friend­ship when it came to re­li­a­bil­ity. In­stead, they set­tled on a bore size of 100mm, mak­ing for an over­all

ca­pac­ity of close to 3.4-litres.

But even at 3.4, the Cos­worth GAA-V6 Capri en­gine eas­ily met Ford’s brief of 400 horse­power (300kW) – the first en­gine they ran on the dyno saw 310kW. Be­fore long the scream­ing FordCos­worth V6 would be pump­ing out nearly 340kW at close to 9000rpm.

This mas­ter­piece of Bri­tish crafts­man­ship would be mated with pre­ci­sion Ger­man en­gi­neer­ing. Al­lan Mof­fat’s car was not known as the ‘Cologne’ Capri be­cause of his Brut 33 spon­sor­ship from the year be­fore, but rather be­cause that’s where the Group 2 ho­molo­ga­tion Capri RS3100s were made – in Cologne, Ger­many, at Ford’s Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion head­quar­ters.

Un­der the di­rec­tion of chief en­gi­neer Thomas Amer­schlaeger, the Ger­mans ex­ploited the Group 2 rule book to the limit. For ex­am­ple, those bulky rear guards are not merely for show or to ac­com­mo­date the huge 16-inch wide wheels; they also house the en­gine’s wa­ter cool­ing ra­di­a­tors, one on each side of the car, mounted in front of each wheel.

Air­flow was di­rected over the twin ra­di­a­tors via a com­plex ar­ray of lou­vres and aper­tures. Th­ese were de­signed for max­i­mum cool­ing ca­pa­bil­ity as well as an ef­fi­cient air­flow exit through the wheel wells.

The lengths to which Amer­schlaeger went in or­der to have rear guard-mounted ra­di­a­tors il­lus­trates how se­ri­ous Ford was with this car. It was part of a con­certed ef­fort to off­set the ex­tra weight (the Es­sex en­gine was heav­ier than the old 2.6) over the front axle by mov­ing, wher­ever pos­si­ble, other com­po­nents to­wards the rear. The gear­box/diff oil cooler pump is driven off the diff; the oil tank is in the boot. So that the me­chan­ics could quickly check the oil lev­els with­out open­ing the boot, there’s an ex­posed pipe run­ning out­side the bodywork near the right-side tail­light.

The Ger­mans put a lot of thought into this car. Con­sider the way the au­to­matic fire ex­tin­guish­ing sys­tem was de­signed: it was in­cor­po­rated into the rollcage, so that in the event of fire, the re­tar­dant ma­te­rial would be pumped in­side the roll-cage tubes and re­leased into the car through a se­ries of strate­gi­cally lo­cated holes. By this method, the need for a myr­iad of ad­di­tional ex­tin­guisher pipework was elim­i­nated.

But when it comes to clever en­gi­neer­ing, it’s hard to top the so­lu­tion they came up with for the rear sus­pen­sion. The stan­dard Capri leaf-spring, live rear axle sus­pen­sion de­sign was no doubt one of the rea­sons the RS2600 ‘Plastik­bombe’ had such un­civilised cor­ner­ing man­ners. At first glance this looked to be an un­solv­able prob­lem, be­cause un­der Group 2 regs the car had to re­tain its stan­dard sus­pen­sion medium. It meant that Amer­schlaeger and his team were stuck with leaf springs, rather than the pre­ferred coils. Or were they? The race ver­sion would in­deed be fit­ted with leaf ‘springs’, but th­ese were spe­cially made items – they were made out of plas­tic; they of­fered no spring­ing ef­fect at all. That role was in­stead taken care of by a pair of beefy coil springs and Bil­stein rac­ing shocks. In its ho­molo­ga­tion sub­mis­sion, Ford la­belled the coils

merely as ‘ad­di­tional springs’, and the FIA gave it the green light!

The axle it­self was fit­ted with fore and aft trail­ing arms, up­per and lower, and a Watts Link – an ar­range­ment not dis­sim­i­lar to what was used on pre-New Gen­er­a­tion V8 Su­per­cars.

To stop the Capri, up front were a pair of huge – 305mm di­am­e­ter, 25mm thick – ven­ti­lated discs and spe­cial light­weight ATE cal­lipers. In­ter­est­ingly, the brakes had ‘hy­dro-elec­tric power as­sis­tance’, a sys­tem which used an elec­tric pump to boost the brake fluid reser­voir up be­fore the fluid is valved into the hy­draulic sys­tem.

The RS3100 rep­re­sented such a vast im­prove­ment over the old RS2600 in so many ar­eas that it was hard to be­lieve they both came from the same Ford Capri model line. But how would the new car fare against the all-con­quer­ing BMW 3.0 CSL?

With the likes of Niki Lauda (al­ready an F1 driver by then), Jochen Mass, Toine Heze­mans and, in­ter­est­ingly, Di­eter Glemser, the Ger­man ace who would co-drive Mof­fat’s Brut 33 Fal­con at Bathurst later in the year, Ford did not seem to have any wor­ries on the driver front.

Ul­ti­mately, though, the highly an­tic­i­pated show­down be­tween the 3.0 CSL and the RS3100 turned into a bit of a fizzer. By early ’74 the ef­fects of the en­ergy cri­sis were be­ing felt: car mak­ers were hit with fall­ing sales and the need to make dra­matic changes to their mar­ket­ing strate­gies as the price of oil sud­denly soared.

One of the con­se­quences was BMW’s de­ci­sion to wind back its rac­ing op­er­a­tions. BMW’s de­par­ture left the Capri RS3100s vir­tu­ally un­op­posed.

Yet even then an RS3100 driver did not win the cham­pi­onship. With a points sys­tem that favoured the smaller class cars, the ti­tle went to Hans Heyer in a Zak­speed Ford Es­cort RS1600. At least it was still won by a Ford…

With no op­po­si­tion, there wasn’t much point in the fac­tory team con­tin­u­ing with the RS3100 into 1975. The last time an RS3100 raced as a works en­try was in a six-hour sportscar en­duro, a round of the World Sportscar Cham­pi­onship, in South Africa in Novem­ber, 1974. At the Kyalami cir­cuit, Mass and Heze­mans shared the car to fifth out­right (be­hind four Le Mans-style sportscars) and first in the tour­ing car class.

It’d be three months be­fore that par­tic­u­lar RS3100 raced again. That race was at Sandown in Mel­bourne, and the driver was Al­lan Mof­fat.

The fight that the RS3100 Cologne Capri was built for, the 1974 Euro­pean Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship. This is the Nur­bur­gring, Ger­many, July 14, 1974. Jochen Mass/Niki Lauda (Capri) lead Hans-Joachim Stuck/Ron­nie Peter­son (BMW 3.0 CSL) and Di­eter Glemser/Toine Heze­mans (Capri).

The heart of the mat­ter: the 3.4-litre Cos­worth GAA-V6.

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