New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

Hailed as one of South Africa’s fastest sports cars at the time, the Capri Per­ana V8 was the prod­uct of Basil Green Mo­tors, a com­pany based in Jo­han­nes­burg. Green, an ex For­mula One me­chanic for Cooper, be­gan his af­ter­mar­ket tun­ing ca­reer by heav­ily mod­i­fy­ing Minis, but was soon sell­ing popular per­for­mance con­ver­sion kits for a va­ri­ety of Fords. The name ‘Per­ana’ was orig­i­nally coined as a model name when Green dropped an Es­sex V6 en­gine into a Cortina — to make the Cortina Per­ana. Basil Green Mo­tors soon be­came syn­ony­mous with per­for­mance on the road as well as the race track, as it ap­plied a sim­ple phi­los­o­phy of shoe­horn­ing large-ca­pac­ity en­gines into popular Ford mod­els — it was a suc­cess­ful recipe for those want­ing elite, high-pow­ered cars in South Africa dur­ing the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Most fa­mously, Green’s next step was to take two ba­sic in­gre­di­ents — a Ford Capri 300XL MKI and a 5.0-litre Mus­tang V8 en­gine — to pro­duce the iconic Capri Per­ana V8. With an up­rated gear­box and sus­pen­sion, plus a few ad­di­tional go-faster bits — a four-bar­rel Hol­ley car­bu­ret­tor sit­ting on top of a high-rise alu­minium in­take man­i­fold, high-per­for­mance air cleaner, and an op­tional hy­draulic or Boss 302 solid lifter camshaft with stronger valve springs — the Capri Per­ana was some­thing very spe­cial.

This smooth-run­ning low-slung ma­chine had the abil­ity to show a very clean pair of heels to many im­ported ex­otics — when our own Mo­tor­man mag­a­zine tested a Capri Per­ana in 1970, it recorded a top speed of 240kph and a very re­spectable 0–100kph ac­cel­er­a­tion time of 6.4 sec­onds.

Clas­sic Cavalcade

The owner of our fea­tured Capri Per­ana V8, Dun­can Jef­feris, has al­ways had an in­ter­est in mo­tor cars — an in­ter­est that over the years de­vel­oped into a spe­cific bent for late ’60s and early ’70s mus­cle cars.

Dur­ing his high-school years in the mid to late ’70s — board­ing at South­land Boys’ High School in In­ver­cargill — Dun­can stored away vivid mem­o­ries of Ford GT Fal­cons and Holden GTS Monaros cruis­ing the lo­cal streets. How­ever, it was his oc­ca­sional trips to Tere­tonga Race­way to watch lo­cal leg­ends such as Inky Tul­loch and Pat Mon­aghan, among many oth­ers, that truly ce­mented his de­sire to one day own one of those mighty Ford or Holden mus­cle ma­chines.

Like most of us who started off with ‘one day I’m go­ing to own one of those’ as­pi­ra­tions, Dun­can’s au­to­mo­tive jour­ney com­menced on a some­what more mun­dane foot­ing, and his first set of wheels was a 1957 Ford Pre­fect (in which he achieved the first of only two speed­ing tick­ets he’s ever re­ceived — although ad­mit­tedly in a 50kph zone) be­fore he moved on to a much sportier Ford Es­cort. That car was, in fact, the last Ford Es­cort Sport 1600 sold new in New Zealand, Dun­can hav­ing pur­chased

it in May 1981 from Ster­ritt Ford of Oa­maru. The lo­cal Gore Ford deal­er­ship, AV Latty, tried in vain to sell Dun­can the lat­est Ford Laser, but he was adamant that he didn’t want a front-wheeldrive car. Not wish­ing to lose a sure sale, AV Latty then lo­cated the Ford Es­cort in Oa­maru. As it was the very last one sold, it was fit­ted with a vinyl roof.

Since then Dun­can has owned sev­eral in­ter­est­ing cars, in­clud­ing a 1978 HX Holden Monaro, 1972 Valiant RT Charger, 1982 VH SS HDT Com­modore — one of only 30 Kiwi-built cars (avoid­ing Aus­tralian ADR reg­u­la­tions gave th­ese cars more power than their Aussie equiv­a­lents), an HX Holden ute, 1972 Fair­mont XY GT (a South African–built ex­am­ple), 2004 BA GT Fal­con and a 1958 Cus­tom 300 Deluxe, a car he still owns to­day.

Dun­can’s 1958 Cus­tom 300 Deluxe (Gold Flash) is a true sur­vivor car, and one that was orig­i­nally owned by his fa­ther — the strik­ing Dres­den Blue Ford Gold Flash be­ing de­liv­ered to the Jef­feris’ fam­ily on Novem­ber 18, 1958, from the same dealer who would later sup­ply Dun­can with his Es­cort — AV Latty of Gore. That car was a trusty ser­vant to Dun­can’s fam­ily, in­clud­ing his older sis­ters, for many years. When Dun­can’s par­ents passed away — close to­gether dur­ing his pri­mary school years — a young lo­cal in the auto-wreck­ing busi­ness by the name of Peter Woods pur­chased the Gold Flash from the Jef­feris es­tate. That was in 1971 and the car had only 30,000-odd miles (48,280km) on the clock. Woods then used the Ford as the tow ve­hi­cle for his stock car whilst build­ing a for­mi­da­ble rep­u­ta­tion around the coun­try’s dirt tracks through the ’70s.

In 2000, Woods fi­nally gave in to Dun­can’s pes­ter­ing and sold the Gold Flash to him. This car has re­tained its orig­i­nal im­mac­u­late con­di­tion, and now holds pride of place in the Jef­feris’ car shed, ce­ment­ing his love of cars for a fu­ture gen­er­a­tion, as Dun­can’s two sons — Luke and Scott — love cars as much as their fa­ther does.

Real or Replica?

In late 2002, Dun­can pur­chased a South African–built Ford Fal­con XY GT (man­ual) from Bernie, an In­ver­cargill-based im­porter, a car he kept un­til 2007. In the next ship­ment from the same im­porter, Dun­can looked at an­other XY GT Fal­con and a South African–built Holden Monaro as an in­vest­ment. Un­for­tu­nately the XY had been tam­pered with in tran­sit, and many of the rare parts had been stolen from it, putting Dun­can off buy­ing the car. He took a quick look around the 308 HT Monaro, but even to the un­trained eye this also looked like a ma­jor project, and Dun­can de­cided to pass up on that one as well.

Ex­press­ing his sad­ness and dis­ap­point­ment at the state of th­ese once-mag­nif­i­cent mus­cle cars, Dun­can re­as­sured the im­porter, Bernie, that he still wanted to buy some­thing spe­cial: the im­porter’s eyes sparkled as he said, “How about a Per­ana Capri?”

At that mo­ment Dun­can was ush­ered to the rear of his build­ing to see a MKI Capri look­ing a lit­tle for­lorn, painted white and sit­ting on over­size tyres. This car had ar­rived in the coun­try in

2002, and Dun­can’s ini­tial thoughts were not pos­i­tive. How­ever, af­ter spy­ing the two mas­sive ex­haust pipes dom­i­nat­ing the Capri’s rear view, his cu­rios­ity me­ter was head­ing up the scale.

Bernie lifted the bon­net and there, nes­tled low and close to the fire­wall, was a Ford 302 (5.0-litre) Wind­sor V8 en­gine. Dun­can also spot­ted the orig­i­nal Ford-des­ig­nated tag and the Basil Green ID tag stamped with the magic match­ing num­bers — BG0026.

He was still a lit­tle scep­ti­cal at this stage, doubt­ful that the Capri was a gen­uine Basil Green Mo­tors–built car. He’d heard tales that th­ese beasts were harder to find than the Loch Ness Mon­ster, sim­i­lar to the GT and HO Fal­cons of the ’70s and ’80s, and that many fakes and non-match­ing cars were be­ing sold as gen­uine. In­deed, Dun­can says that South Africa is awash with such repli­cas to­day, with many be­ing ad­ver­tised for sale as gen­uine cars.

Af­ter un­der­tak­ing some ba­sic re­search and be­ing told a dif­fer­ent story from each source con­tacted, Dun­can de­cided to take the plunge and pur­chased the car with the in­ten­tion of turn­ing it into a club or en­try-level Targa car.

He still be­lieved it to be a Per­ana replica, and hav­ing shifted his fam­ily to Darfield (west of Christchurch), the Capri was shipped to a bou­tique race car work­shop. The plan was to have a roll cage fit­ted and the brakes up­graded so it could begin its life as a clas­sic club racer.

How­ever, on only the sec­ond day in the work­shop, a third ve­hi­cle ID tag was found un­der the orig­i­nal floor sealant be­low the driver’s seat. It matched the un­der-bon­net tags — and that was enough to com­pletely au­then­ti­cate the car as a gen­uine Basil Green–built Per­ana V8.

The race shop sug­gested a to­tal restora­tion, as it was very re­luc­tant to con­tinue with the orig­i­nal plan to race mod­ify such a rare and mag­nif­i­cent piece of mo­tor­ing his­tory.

More re­search was un­der­taken, and a de­ci­sion was made to head down the rocky path of restor­ing the Capri back to orig­i­nal con­di­tion. Dun­can had no idea what to ex­pect on this jour­ney, but need­less to say he jumped in boots and all, re­gard­less, though he says it be­came ap­par­ent early in the project that he was well out of his depth, and with the po­ten­tial to make mis­takes along the way, he needed to make sure any restora­tion work was han­dled cor­rectly.

Project Per­ana

It was sug­gested to Dun­can that Burkes Met­al­works in Christchurch was as good as you could get to take over the Per­ana’s restora­tion job. It was also work­ing on the ex-works ‘Cologne’ Capri owned now by Roger Townsend, and orig­i­nally raced in New Zealand by Paul Fa­hey and Inky Tul­loch, which meant they had a fresh and vi­tal work­ing knowl­edge of high­per­for­mance Capris.

Af­ter dis­cussing the project with Ja­son Burke, the de­ci­sion was made to give the Per­ana to Burkes Met­al­works to un­der­take a full restora­tion. The bare body shell was de­liv­ered com­pletely stripped and dipped, with ev­ery­thing else packed care­fully into boxes and ice-cream con­tain­ers. Dun­can also made con­tact with Wayne Stock­man in Auck­land, who be­came the ‘go-to’ per­son for in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice on where to se­cure cor­rect parts. Wayne has an en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of Capris, and took the op­por­tu­nity — whilst on a busi­ness trip to Jo­han­nes­burg — to meet Basil Green and spend an evening with a lo­cal, long-term Per­ana owner. He was able to glean some valu­able in­for­ma­tion that would progress Dun­can’s project, es­pe­cially as Burkes had be­come stuck on a few points that Wayne was able to clar­ify. With Wayne on board and over­see­ing the project, the restora­tion moved for­ward with added con­fi­dence.

As work con­tin­ued, the Capri was dis­cov­ered to have rust in all the usual places, in­clud­ing the boot floor, tail­light panel, left and right side sills, lower front panel and the floor area. Ja­son Burke and his team re­fab­ri­cated and fit­ted new pan­els where nec­es­sary, and were able to source and fit a new front panel. They spent many hours get­ting the body ab­so­lutely per­fect, in­clud­ing fine-tun­ing all the panel gaps be­fore the Bright Yel­low (Gla­surit 2K) paint was ap­plied. With only a few ex­cep­tions, Per­anas orig­i­nally came in two colours only — Bright Yel­low and Peri-peri Red. Dun­can’s Per­ana (BG0026) had been orig­i­nally painted Bright Yel­low but had, some­time in the past, been re­painted red, then white over the top of that.

Turn­ing to the Capri’s un­der­pin­nings, the en­tire sus­pen­sion sys­tem was re­built and fit­ted with new bear­ings and bushes, whilst the dif­fer­en­tial was re­built by The Diff Shop. The springs were re­set by Bel­lamy & East, and the brakes were rekit­ted with new seals, while fresh pads and shoes were also fit­ted. The orig­i­nal top-loader four-speed gear­box was com­pletely

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