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Ford Capri RS

Published: 21st Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Fancy owning a motorsport legend for road and track use? Paul Davies looks at true classics that made their names on stages and circuits, and still provide fine drives today

One car, two engines. Mid-seventies it was important whether your Ford Capri RS had an ‘Essex’ or a ‘Cologne’ engine, both V6 of course. In fact, as you will see, although they were totally different units both were born in Blighty. Whilst well over one and half million of Europe’s ‘pony car’ were made over a near 20- years span, it was the big motors that grabbed all the attention. And were immortalised on racetrack, and TV’s The Professionals in the hands of tough cops Bodie and Doyle. The ‘Essex’ engine, was 2993cc and, for 1969, fairly pokey with 138bhp in the production Capri 3000 GT. On British circuits it was a front runner in Production Saloons and the British Touring Car Championship. Over in Germany the stock Capri 2600 GT and, more importantly, competition spec RS 2600 – with short stroke, higher revving ‘Cologne’ engine – was the star of the European Touring Car Championship. Although the hotter GT models were the run of the mill cars on both sides of the Channel, the RS (Rallye Sport) versions were the motorsport specials. The ETCC was the big prize, and in 1970 the 2600 RS was developed at Ford Advanced Vehicle Operations (in Averley, Essex) for production in Germany. The first 50 RS 2600s were lightweights, with Weslake cylinder heads, fuel injection, and 150bhp from the engine – which was just over 2.6-litre (2637cc) to make it permissible for the unit to be bored to the threelitre class limit. In full race trim a Group 2 car developed 320bhp plus. RS 2600 production ceased in 1975 after 3,532 cars had been made. Ford’s big car took two ETCC titles (Dieter Glemser and Jochen Mass in 1971 and ’72) but it was harried all the way by lighter and more nimble Escorts, and by Alfa Romeo when the Italian got its act together. But the main opposition was from BMW and its CSL ‘batmobile’. Ford’s reply came in 1973 just as Capri MK1 production was ending. Again developed by AVO (Essex again!) but this time with a version of the 3000 GT engine the RS 3100 was homologated at 3091cc, to allow a capacity increase to well over three-litres. A change in the rules allowed Cosworth (not in Essex, but certainly not in Germany) to come up with a pair of twin overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder, alloy heads, and at 3412cc the raceengine gave in excess of 400bhp, which saw the unit also used in Formula 5000 single seaters. But those rule changes killed off modifiedcars in the ETCC. And a fuel crisis killed off sales of the RS 3100 after just 250 cars had been made, the last 50 being sent to Australia. In Britain it was the Capri 3000 GT and its successors that took most of the honours on the tracks. Almost everyone who was anyone got behind the wheel of a Capri at some time, but Gordon Spice’s 1975 BTCC class victory (no overall winner that year) was a highlight; Gordy also winning the Spa 24 Hours in 1978. Now it’s classic touring car racing that beckons for the Capri. Whilst the RS models are not eligible for most events, well-prepped threelitre cars are competitive. It’s also a performance road car with a difference – and how about one for some (really sideways) trackday motoring? And the 2.8is make fine ‘mini Astons’ roadies.

Ford Capri RS Summary


RS 2600 (1970-72): 3532; RS 3100 (1973-74): 250 (Also Capri 3000GT (1969-72), 3.0S (1974-81), 2.8i (1981-86)


Engine: Front mounted, cast iron, six-cylinder Vee format, single camshaft with pushrods operating two-valves per cylinder, Kugelfischer injection or d/d Weber carburettor.
Power, Essex engine: 3000GT 2993cc (138bhp), RS 3100: 3091cc (148bhp); Race engines: Cosworth alloy 16-valve heads with twin ohc, injection, 3412cc (400bhp-plus).
Cologne engine: RS 2600 2637cc (150bhp).
Race engines: (Weslake alloy cylinder heads) 2940cc (314bhp), 2999cc (327bhp).
Gearbox: Four-speed all synchro (production), ZF five-speed on race cars.
Drive: Rear wheels.
Suspension: Front independent McPherson struts with roll bar; Rear live axle with leaf springs and radius rods.
Steering: Rack and pinion.
Brakes: Front vented disc, Rear drum (Rear discs on Grp2 and Grp4 Cars).

Claim to fame

Two European Touring Car titles, top dog in German Touring Car Championship, British BTCC and Production Saloons, Supersaloons rallycross, winner Spa 24 Hours,Willhire 24 hours.

Famous names

Dieter Glemser, Jochen Mass, Niki Lauda, Toine Hezemans, Klaus Ludwig, Hans Heyer, Gerry Birrell, Holman Blackburn, Gordon Spice, Chris Craft, Gerry Marshall, Jackie Stewart, Tom Walkinshaw, Brian Muir, Ivan Dutton, Martin Birrane, Hans Akersloot.

Where to buy

Try the one-make clubs and magazines, Ford specialists plus Classic Cars For Sale of course!

What to look for

Genuine RS models will be hard to find (check chassis no’s with RS Owners Club), but 3000GT, 3.0S and later Mk3 2.8I (Cologne engine) fairly plentiful. No RS 2600 made in RHD, no RS 3100 in LHD.

What to pay

Good condition late models 3.0S from £5000, add £2-3000 for early cars. Mk3 2.8i most plentiful and available from £2k RS2600/3100 £10K minimum


Ford RS Owners Club:; Ford Capri Club:; Ford AVO Club:

Maintenance, tuning and sport

Most parts are production Ford and generally available, or check clubs. Burton Power ( can supply tuning parts for both Essex and Cologne engines and transmissions.

Competitive Rating: 8

Classic Motoring

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