CAPRI RS2600 RALLY CAR

Ex-Wal­ter Röhrl Mk1 saved from the grave by his for­mer co-driver.

Classic Ford - - CONTENTS - Words Marc Stretton Jean­not Boe­sen

The story of this Capri be­gins back in the early ’70s when the Kleint tun­ing com­pany in Ham­burg, Ger­many, run by Erni Kleint, pro­duced a num­ber of Capris to take part in Euro­pean ral­ly­ing un­der a semi-works agree­ment — much like the one that Ford UK would have great suc­cess with in later years when Mal­colm Wil­son’s M-Sport op­er­a­tion ran the World Rally Team.

For the 1972 Olympia Rally (to cel­e­brate the Mu­nich Olympics that year), Kleint built two RS2600 Capris to 230 bhp spec and it was one of these two cars reg­is­tered HH RD 250 that would in­tro­duce a rally leg­end to the world. Be­hind the wheel of this RS a young Wal­ter Röhrl would show the po­ten­tial that would later make him a dou­ble world rally cham­pi­onship win­ner.

To the great sur­prise of the crowds and the press, the 24-year old skier-turned rally driver worked his way to the head of the tim­ing sheets and led the Olympic for many miles… un­til

an en­gine fail­ure put an end to his chal­lenge with just three stages to go.

Spec­tat­ing on the event as Röhrl took on the stars of the time, such as Rauno Aal­to­nen and Hannu Mikkola was an­other young rally fan, Chris­tian Geist­dör­fer. Lit­tle did Chris­tian know, at the time, but within five years he would be­come Wal­ter’s co-driver as the pair be­came a dom­i­nant force in world ral­ly­ing, and, 40 years later he would get the chance to own the very Capri that was blast­ing the op­po­si­tion apart in front of his eyes.

Miss­ing in ac­tion

“It started with a phone call from Jochi Kleint, Erni’s brother and a well-known name in Ger­man ral­ly­ing,” Chris­tian says. “For many years, the Kleint Capris were thought to have dis­ap­peared, with var­i­ous sto­ries of en­gine fires, crashes and other fates be­com­ing them.”

“There were ru­mours, how­ever that one of the cars had been sold on and turned in to a road car, though its where­abouts for many decades was a mys­tery. That phone call led to Jochi in­spect­ing an RS Capri in a barn, that had a non-stan­dard en­gine and an auto gear­box… and a lot of rust,” Chris­tian con­tin­ues, “but it also had all the body mod­i­fi­ca­tions such as an ex­haust tun­nel, repo­si­tioned fuel filler and all of the strength­en­ing ad­di­tions that Kleint had built in to its cars. A check of the chas­sis num­ber, and, most telling of all, the pres­ence of some old num­ber­plates with the reg­is­tra­tion HH RD 250 all added up to the un­be­liev­able dis­cov­ery that Jochi was look­ing at Wal­ter Röhrl’s long-lost Capri!”

Jochi, him­self, did not have the time to take on the mas­sive amount of work that would be in­volved in bring­ing the very poor con­di­tion Capri back to life, but he knew a man who, per­haps could… that would be Chris­tian.

“So, I bought the Capri,” Chris­tian says, “but it wasn’t un­til it was back in the work­shop and in­spected that the full night­mare of how much work would be in­volved was re­vealed. The shell was like Swiss Em­men­tal cheese and you couldn’t be­lieve where the rust had got in to. Be­hind the dash­board, the metal was like pa­per and crum­bled

away. But by us­ing old pho­to­graphs of the car and draw­ings that Jochi still had of when Kleint mod­i­fied the car, the body was slowly brought back to solid over the next three years by Chris­tian Torst, who is an ex­pert with old Ford com­pe­ti­tion cars, es­pe­cially Es­corts.

“A lucky find was a patch of metal in­side that still had the orig­i­nal blue and yel­low paint cov­er­ing it,” Chris­tian adds, “and this was given to a paint spe­cial­ist to match up per­fectly the orig­i­nal shades for the re­spray that fol­lowed the mam­moth met­al­work job.”

Parts-hunt­ing

As well as re­con­struct­ing the body, Chris­tian also had to find and source many of the parts for the re­cre­ation, most of which had long gone when the RS was turned in to a road car. And such things as an RS 2.6-litre V6 en­gine, a five-speed ZF gear­box, and all the rally equip­ment aren’t items that can be picked up off the shelf.

“Even when the parts were found and bought,” Chris­tian says, “fit­ting them to a mod­i­fied shell took two or three at­tempts, with ex­tra fab­ri­ca­tion of­ten needed. Bilstein came to the res­cue with re­build­ing the sus­pen­sion and springs, while the Gir­ling brak­ing sys­tem was com­pletely re­built us­ing the cor­rect cal­lipers and new lines.

“One of the hard­est parts to find were the tyres,” he notes, “as 235/60R13 inch is a very un­usual size to­day. We even­tu­ally found some made by Block­ley Clas­sic Tyres.”

In­side the dash was nearly com­plete and has a well-worn patina to it with a pe­riod Speed­pi­lot timer and Halda Trip­mas­ter back in place. The cen­tre con­sole with its fuses and switches was re­pro­duced us­ing old pic­tures to help and the seats are repli­cas of the un­sal­vage­able orig­i­nals with in-date har­nesses for safety. The orig­i­nal roll cage was still present and this has been re­tained af­ter a clean and re­paint.

“The most ex­pen­sive part of the build was the en­gine, of course,” Chris­tian says, “but this had to be cor­rect, so we trusted the work to a com­pany called Eich­berg, which has been build­ing and tun­ing clas­sic Ford en­gines since the ’70s. It is an ex­act copy of the car­bu­ret­tor’d V6 that pow­ered the RS back in 1972 and with 230 bhp, the power is all there to be used again.”

Since the res­ur­rec­tion of HH RD 250 has been com­pleted, Chris­tian has been busy show­ing the car at var­i­ous events and hopes to use it in the fu­ture, per­haps as a zero-car on some his­toric ral­lies. “Jochi, Wal­ter and I had a great day at the Au­to­mo­tor­sport Show re­cently,” he says, “where Wal­ter got a chance to drive the Capri again on what was the first stage of the Olympic Rally all those years ago. His ver­dict was that driv­ing the car was ‘like a time jour­ney’, even down to the in­cred­i­ble noise the gear­box makes!”

“THE EN­GINE IS AN EX­ACT COPY OF THE V6 THAT POW­ERED THE RS IN 1972. WITH 230 BHP THE POWER’S THERE TO BE USED”

Chris­tian’s pa­tience in hunt­ing down the right parts means the Capri’s in­te­rior is equipped just as it should be.

Eich­berg built the 2.6 Cologne — com­plete with triple DCNF carbs.

Right: it’s been a mis­sion but Chris­tian’s happy the RS is back on the scene again. The RS Capri with Wal­ter Röhrl at the wheel in 1972.

Baby At­las has been re­built, with the cor­rect ZF LSD.

Retro-style bucket seats more than look the part.

With the rally clocks back in place, this Capri is ready to com­pete again.

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