Ford Capri 2.8i

This was never meant to be Dale’s daily driver when he bought it – seven years ago

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK - DALE VIN­TEN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

1983 FORD CAPRI 2.8i

Iused to drive a BMW E39 M5 and it’s prob­a­bly the best car I’ve ever owned, be­ing fast, re­li­able and rust-free – ev­ery­thing that my Ford Capri isn’t.

I fully ac­cept that it’s my own fault. I seemed to dis­re­gard ev­ery­thing I know about buy­ing se­cond-hand cars, buy­ing it on­line on the strength of 12 pho­tos and 326 words – hav­ing never driven it – and even col­lected it in the dark. Lo and be­hold, the Capri’s gear­box gave up midround­about just two days later. At that very mo­ment, as pass­ing mo­torists ges­tic­u­lated an­grily at me from their warm, com­fort­able mod­ern cars, I knew that this was go­ing to be a bumpy ride. That be­ing said, I love it to bits and have learned a great deal with so much hav­ing tran­spired since those fate­ful

first few days. We’ve been to­gether for nearly seven years, now, and I’m its 14th owner. Yes, it’s been passed around some­what but hope­fully TUH 464Y has now found its for­ever home.

Re­plac­ing the gear­box seems like a life­time ago and I’ve al­most man­aged to ex­punge the mem­ory of hav­ing to do the ex­act same job a few months later when the dif­fer­en­tial let go, tak­ing fifth gear with it.

It’s an old Ford so rust is a con­stant com­pan­ion and I would be ly­ing if I said it hasn’t had beau­coup weld­ing, but Gary at Wheels Au­to­mo­tive in Hunt­ing­don does such a good job that I’ve had all of the struc­tural and fab­ri­ca­tion work car­ried out there.

Af­ter those ini­tial gear­box woes it be­came im­per­a­tive to look at the mo­tor. The in­jec­tion sys­tem has been re­placed by a Weber DGAS38 car­bu­ret­tor in the past but it wasn’t run­ning as sweetly as I would have liked. A carb over­haul, cylin­der head skim and gas­ket re­place­ment re­turned the en­gine’s im­pec­ca­ble be­hav­iour and a com­plete new ex­haust sys­tem – in­clud­ing man­i­folds – added the right noise to the mix.

Af­ter find­ing my­self fac­ing back­wards on a round­about one day I in­stalled lower and stiffer front springs, low­er­ing blocks for the rear leafs and re­placed all of the bushes with polyurethane items in a bid to try and im­prove the car’s han­dling. It has since felt so much more planted and con­fi­dent on the road.

I’ve fit­ted wider rear Weller steel wheels to beef up the aes­thet­ics and swapped out the orig­i­nal ra­di­a­tor grille for a MkII item. I’m in the process of fresh­en­ing up the paint, too, so half of the car is cur­rently fin­ished in grey primer.

I have a clear idea of how I want the Capri to look and per­form – I’m hop­ing to fit the 2.9-litre Cos­worth BOB en­gine that I lib­er­ated from a Ford Scor­pio, be­cause it’s a fairly straight swap (fa­mous last words), and it looks like my plan to in­stall a lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial has been thrust upon me sooner rather than later be­cause the cur­rent stan­dard diff’ is mak­ing some truly hor­ren­dous noises thanks to what I think is a fail­ing pin­ion bear­ing.

I’m fully aware that I will prob­a­bly never fin­ish fet­tling it and it will cer­tainly never be orig­i­nal or con­cours. I just want it to keep go­ing strong while con­tin­u­ing to put a great big smile on my face ev­ery time I drive it, or even look at it for that mat­ter. As the say­ing goes, if you’re not glanc­ing back at your car af­ter you’ve parked it then you’ve bought the wrong one.

Does it still count, though, if you’re just glanc­ing back at it to check that noth­ing has fallen off or caught fire?

Mount­ney wheel and 8-ball gear knob break up the grey plas­tic dol­drums.

Top­ping the noisy diff’ up with heavy duty oil sta­biliser un­til Dale can get it to some­one with more know-how.

Orig­i­nal 2.8 mo­tor now runs (rather well) on a Weber DGAS 38 car­bu­ret­tor.

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