rebuilt in-house, whilst the original 302ci (4.9-litre) V8 engine was stripped down by Steve Webber at the Performance Engine Centre in Christchurch. Steve found the engine to be in very good shape, and reassembled it after giving the motor a thorough check-up. Max Wildermoth took care of refurbishing all the anodized aluminium and stainless-steel mouldings, while Bumper Replacements rechromed the front and rear bumpers. Wayne Patrick of Patrick Auto Trimmers in Christchurch, after sourcing the appropriate materials, rebuilt and trimmed the seats and refitted the interior, as well as a fresh vinyl roof. Interestingly after much research, it was discovered the original Perana seat material was the same as that fitted to 1968 Mercedes-benz models. The original glass was refitted, along with the original rear window louvre and 5.5-inch chromed Rostyle wheels.
A totally original pre-facelift Capri 1600 MKI was purchased to provide a reference/template and to donate parts — also helping to ensure the Perana’s wiring loom and other items were installed exactly as original.
With the Perana finally completed, Jason Burke handled the initial test drive — quickly discovering just how brutally fast the car was going to be when the taps were fully opened. Jason also found out that, with 220kw on tap (a whisker under 300hp), the Perana became dangerously unstable at high speed — at a point when it still had plenty of reserve power on hand. When the chin spoiler was fitted to the Capri, this instability was cured instantly.
The Perana was finally registered and warranted in December 2014 — after a 12-year restoration journey. The financial crisis of 2007 had taken its toll on Duncan’s disposable income, causing the project to be set aside for a couple of years, and early progress was slow as very little information was available, and some of it proved to be incorrect.
Duncan reckons the Perana is surprisingly easy to handle and can be driven normally, belying the monster it transforms into with a simple stab of the throttle. At normal road speeds it is a little hard riding and tends towards understeer, however, it begs to be driven with enthusiasm. At speed, the car settles down and quickly begins to show the benefits of its racing heritage. On its original rims and biscuit-thin tyres (185/70/13) even modest acceleration from a standing start produces prodigious wheelspin, despite its limited slip differential — resulting in a long number ‘11’ appearing in the rear-vision mirror. Duncan’s confident that utilizing modern tyre technology would significantly reduce the car’s 0–100kph and 400-metre dash times.
Despite a 20-hectare block near West Melton to look after along with other passions — including his family, clay target shooting and martial arts — Duncan tells us that the Perana is so much fun to drive that he often finds himself looking for excuses to take it out for a quick blast up the road, and that’s definitely something we can all relate to.
Those key to the Capri Perana’s restoration include Wayne Stockman, whose support and encouragement were invaluable, while his encyclopaedic knowledge and ability to find rare parts pulled the whole project into line. And of course Jason Burke and the team at Burkes Metalworks, Christchurch — who would also like to take this opportunity to say how much they appreciated working with Duncan, his wife and Wayne Stockman on the project. Not forgetting Steve Webber at the Performance Engine Centre in Christchurch, and Wayne Patrick of Patrick Auto Trimmers, also in Christchurch. Finally, of course, to Duncan’s wife, Leigh-anne. Being an accountant, she was all too aware of the costs of the car’s restoration, but supported Duncan all the way.