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Ford Capri

MOD&MEND Published: 28th Aug 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Capri
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Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here’s how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come

Unveiled in 1981, the Ford Capri 2.8 Injection was THE car to have in the early 1980s if you wanted a family friendly fl ying machine. It’s not about charm – it’s a European muscle car, and its often heavy-handed approach appeals to those who like their classics man-sized. But whilst they can be daunting for the uninitiated from behind the wheel, they needn’t be so when the going gets oily. The excellent support network includes owners clubs and ardent specialists – who can cater for your Capri’s every need. So get the toolbox out, says SAM SKELTON, because few are better for a DIY beginner!


There aren’t many things that haven’t been done. From a Turbo Technics conversion to high lift camshafts. Beware though that conrods are a weak link, and that the Siamese ports on the heads will restrict breathing. Later Cologne 2.9s have separate ports, but the heads are non-interchangeable. Burton Power can sell you an uprated head, which when used with an uprated cam should boost your Capri to 200bhp. Cosworth 24V engine fi ts of course.

Basic blueprinting work will help get more out of your Cologne than many factory cars ever had but that’s only if a rebuild is on the cards. Decarbonising the unit with a valve grind would help too but why not try TerraClean (see out test in ‘Project BMW’ in this issue) for the same result as most cars wil be out of sorts by now. Plugs and ignition leads are important as is a good, clean air fi lter element and set the tappets carefully – need to be done with the engine warm.


Ford USA offered a 4.0 V6 related to the European Cologne – and the crank fi ts 2.8. This effectively strokes it up to 3.5 litres, and Clive Tick of Tickover reckons it’s the best way to go if grunt is your aim. “Car Clinic in Lancashire have done a few, and having seen one on a rolling road I can tell you that torque is upped from about 160lbft to 240lbft – a 50 per cent hike!”

The 2.9 crank will fi t into a 2.8 block with a few mods to the front end. As the added capacity is down to stroke, this will give a 2.9 Cologne with added torque. It’s as strong as a Essex unit but some say spares are becoming hard to fi nd. Silted water jackets are common if antifreeze isn’t changed on time. Fuel injection woes are normally due to wiring faults than anything else.


A modern Quaife or Tran-X limited slip differential is available as a direct swap for the original or Ford LSD item, all capable of transmitting more power. It’s a wise upgrade for anyone tuning their Capri to anything more than a moderate fast road level and needs replacing anyway but you’re looking at some £800. The Cosworth T5 or MT75 gearboxes are also a common upgrade for excessively tuned examples. They fi t fairly easily and Burton Power can supply the modifi ed bellhousings.

The standard four and fi ve-speed gearboxes are inherently strong designs, and need little in the way of maintenance beside the usual oil changes. Noise and jumping out of gear on the overrun are the pointers to an overhaul; this and a clutch change is simple DIY job. Don’t suffer a worn propshaft; the centre bearing is prone to go and vibrations will usually take out the rear bearing on the gearbox over time.


Standard Ford springs were on the soft side. Tickover recommends fi rmer springs – not by much, but they’ll make the front end more controllable. Replace the shock absorbers with gas-fi lled Spax units and poly bush and you’ll have a car which feels far more taut without compromising the ride.

Key thing to remember here is that many owners will not have felt a standard Capri setup in its optimum incarnation; brand new and so replacing everything with quality items equate to a colossal difference in feel. Bushes in TCA arms are prone to deterioration – easier to replace whole TCA.


If used to a modern a Capri feels tank-like to turn in at speed. A quick rack can be purchased, but only if you’re prepared to sacrifi ce the good power steering. You’ll also need to fi t roller mounts to the upper suspension mountings – this will reduce friction, as the suspension arms turn with the steering. Flexible coupling is known to wear and perish if oil contaminated

As with the suspension, replace all bushes with polybushes in order to minimise play in the system. There are no inherent issues with other than the fl exible coupling wearing promoting annoying wheel shimmy.


Hi-Spec offer 4 pot caliper kits using brand new parts, which can be combined with new discs. Choose the biggest you can get under your wheels – and EBC Greenstuff pads will be adequate for most. Rear discs were fi tted to Tickford Turbos; aftermarket kits available, but not needed on most.

Standard discs will stop the car, and the existing calipers are adequate although at their limit these days. We’d recommend Greenstuff pads regardless.


Central locking and electric windows can be added to make the car a more civilised place to be, say specialists Tickover and it’s worth doing. Trim subtly differs from lesser Capris if originality counts when scouring replacements. Half leather on Injection Specials, full on Brooklands by the way.

If your interior is too far gone to save – how about a full leather retrim? It won’t look out of place, as the 280 and Tickford cars had leather as standard. Dash tops known to crack due to age and hard to obtain. Heaters can seize through lack of use and poor electrics are to blame for no go rear wash wiper. Fuse box location means that it is prone to water dripping on it and so corrode connections and wiring.


It’s possible to source a frame which will control the leaf spring to the shell – this limits spring travel so keeps axle tramp down. Tickford used such an idea on its Turbo but will affect the ride. A strut brace, extra chassis strengthening beams down the sides of the cabin, and maybe even a rollcage if you wish?

Make sure all the factory metal is there as Capris do rot badly. Are the factory reinforcements fi tted to V6 shells intact? Many V6s have been damaged and rebuilt into lower spec shells – not a bad thing, but check it’s been reinforced properly too with plates around the suspension turrets, inner wing gussets, and a gusset to reinforce the chassis rails. Parts supply isn’t bad, less so Tickford cars, and decor stripes are available.


Four link suspension mounts and Panhard rods are all well and good, but Tickover argues they ruin the ride for road use. Apart from Ford wheels, Peugeot ones also have same PCD and offset meaning wider shoice of designs. These Capris always ran on top period rubber and it still makes an enormous difference to the drive.

Tickover urges single leaf springs for 2.8s. Polybushes will get the legendary axle tramp under control and make the whole thing feel sharper. LSD diff resilient, oil should be changed every 20,000 miles along with recommended additive. Vibes mean prop centre bearing has packed up.


ENGINE OIL 5ltr 20w/50
GEARBOX OIL 2.2ltr GL5 75w/90
Rear Axle 1.1ltr EP90 (Non LSD cars)/LS90 (LSD cars)
TIMING 12deg BTDC at idle
TAPPETS 0.0014” in, 0.00016” exh,set warm


Tappets should be set nice and warm, advises Tickover – often when set cold, one or two tappets can be “out” when the engine is up to full temperature. The fuel fi lter needs changing annually – many are still on the factory fi t, and this can lead to issues including clogged injectors and so on. Oil changes are vital too – the head runs hot and the oil can quite easily silt the head up if left too long - use good quality lube. And as for unleaded – be careful with the stuff. Valve seat recession is known even with additives used, and when it starts there’s no curing it. Best to have hardened seats fi tted before it’s too late and many uprated heads will have them already installed.

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