FORDS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN…

The Capri and the Mus­tang both made it to the show­room floor, but what about Ford’s idea to com­bine the two and build a Capri-Mus­tang…?

Fast Ford - - Faster Fords - Words GRA­HAM ROB­SON / Pho­tos FORD PHO­TO­GRAPHIC

Most of us have for­got­ten, I think, that the first-gen­er­a­tion Capri was not orig­i­nally meant to have big and pow­er­ful en­gines as ‘flag-ship’ de­riv­a­tives? 1.3-, 1.6- and 2.0-litre four-cylin­der types were planned, but noth­ing more than that. But then came the rush to de­velop the RS2600 and 3.0-litre ver­sions for mo­tor­sport, and the rest is his­tory…

Of­fi­cial his­tory, for sure, but not quite all of it. Step for­ward at this stage, the in­ven­tive crew at AVO, where any­thing seemed to be pos­si­ble in the early 1970s. AVO started by de­vel­op­ing Es­corts (RS1600s, Mex­i­cos and RS2000s) for man­u­fac­ture in the UK, and then Capri RS2600s to be built in Ger­many. It was then, with great am­bi­tion, and with ev­ery­thing seem­ing to be pos­si­ble, the team be­gan to think of even more am­bi­tious mod­els to ex­pand the AVO range.

With the swish new Capri Mk2 al­ready be­ing planned, and with both the RS2600 and 3.0-litre mod­els prov­ing to be great suc­cesses, Stu­art Turner’s plan­ners turned their thoughts to the fu­ture. Es­sex V6 en­gines were pro­posed for in­clu­sion in Corti­nas, tur­bocharged ver­sions of that en­gine were be­ing de­vel­oped, and in those heady pre-En­ergy Cri­sis times an even more amaz­ing en­gine trans­plant was then con­sid­ered…

A con­tact with Ford South Africa had men­tioned the en­ter­pris­ing Basil Green Mo­tors op­er­a­tion, where am­bi­tious Ford model/en­gine trans­plants were al­ready on sale. So why not match his ef­forts, in house, in the UK? If V8 en­gine Mus­tangs (some with en­gines of up to 7.0-litres) were be­ing de­signed in the USA, why not try to do some­thing sim­i­lar, but less am­bi­tious in the UK? Why not shoe-horn a USA/Mus­tang

type V8 (the 4.7-litre ‘Wind­sor’) into the Mk2 Capri ?

Phys­i­cally it seemed to be pos­si­ble, for the Capri en­gine bay was spa­cious enough (just!) to ac­cept it, while AVO thought they could en­large the trans­mis­sion tun­nel, if nec­es­sary, to in­stall a suit­ably hefty four­speed trans­mis­sion. The fact this would re­sult in a rather costly pack­age did not bother them too much (they were still at the ‘Why don’t we…?’ stage), but they knew they would have to pro­vide a big­ger front-end air in­take for an en­larged ra­di­a­tor, which meant that a com­pre­hen­sive sur­face re-style would be nec­es­sary.

At this point, though, a pri­vate en­ter­prise Capri project by Dave Brodie at­tracted a great deal of in­ter­est. In­tended for Bri­tish club rac­ing, and fit­ted with a 3.4-litre Cosworth GA type of V6, it had a glass­fi­bre shell, lower than stan­dard, with stun­ning front and rear wheel arch ex­ten­sions and a mas­sive front spoiler. Ford De­sign (that’s ‘styling’ to you and I) looked at it, bris­tled, ef­fec­tively said that they could do even bet­ter, and be­gan to scheme up a sim­i­lar shape which could also ac­com­mo­date a USA-sourced V8 en­gine up front.

Some peo­ple say that this could not pos­si­bly be done, but there was even an­other pri­vate-en­ter­prise Capri con­ver­sion which Colin Hawker pro­duced, which had no less than a Cosworth 3.0-litre DFV V8 F1 en­gine in the same en­gine bay! An il­lus­tra­tion in one of Jeremy Walton’s mag­is­te­rial Capri books pro­vides crys­tal clear proof of this.

This, though, is where the misery of the En­ergy Cri­sis (which erupted in Oc­to­ber/ Novem­ber 1973, just be­fore the Capri Mk2 was ready for launch), of ever-in­creas­ing Bri­tish cost in­fla­tion, and a gen­eral slump in AVO sales, all con­spired to kill off the CapriMus­tang project.

Amaz­ingly, that type of Capri had al­ready been built, in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers, in South Africa. Sup­ported by Ford South Africa, Basil Green Mo­tors, us­ing the add-on model name of Per­ana (not Pi­ranha, for there were trade mark clashes to be con­sid­ered), had al­ready built V6-en­gined Corti­nas be­fore Da­gen­ham had even con­sid­ered it, and had worked on sev­eral re­lated Ford mod­els, be­fore the orig­i­nal Capri Mk I went on sale. Us­ing 5.0-litre ver­sions of the ‘Wind­sor’ V8, which were im­ported from Ford Aus­tralia, the Capri Per­ana was built in lim­ited num­bers be­tween 1970 and 1973. It was so suc­cess­ful that in­di­vid­ual ma­chines won the 1970 and 1971 South African Cham­pi­onships.

Just imag­ine what could have been, if the En­ergy Cri­sis had not killed off so many promis­ing projects…

This is the Brodie-in­spired Mk2 Capri of 1974. Ford De­sign liked what they saw, and might have pro­duced some­thing sim­i­lar for a Capri-Mus­tang

Ford-USA’s V8 ‘Wind­sor’ en­gine fit­ted neatly into the en­gine bay of Capris

The South Africans did get a V8 Capri, called the Per­ana, so a Capri-Mus­tang was cer­tainly a vi­able prospect

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