Friday, May 1, 2015

Reader Ride: Dan Vance's 1975 Ford Capri John Player Special

This next Reader Ride feature comes from Nick Vance, who is submitting pictures of the car and its story for his father, Dan. The car is a stunning example of a strange piece of iron, a 1975 / Ford / Capri II / John Player Special Race Car (Based on the road going version known as the Black Cat in America.)

From Nick:

-My father bought this car in summer of 1992 while on posting with the Canadian Forces at CFB Lahr.

-He bought the car because his daily driver while in Germany was a 2 litre Capri II, bone stock, tan on white. He was sharing a beer with a friend one evening, saying he loved the car so much, he would ship it home when he left Germany. His friend tells him, no, I'll show you a car to take home. They roll up to the owners house where the car is, and there in front of the enormous house, is a split window Corvette and a big block Chevelle. Oh dear, this guy is going to want crazy money for the car. They walk through his work shop passing half a dozen other rare American cars until they get to the back of the building, and there it is. The JPS. Even though he seemed to prefer the American muscle cars, the Capri was immaculate. The fibreglass fender flares and air damn, even the foam rubber rear wing are all intact and free of any damage.

-They take the car out for a test drive, the turbo charged 2.8 V6 ran perfectly. So my father is driving along the Autobahn, with the owner in the passenger seat, and all of a sudden, he goes, well, let it rip. Wind it out. The speedometer is maxed before they hit the top of fourth gear. When they return to the owners home, he tells my father to pull it in over the pit in his garage. He then proceeds to get a rag and soapy bucket of water, and washed the underside of the car.

-A few days later, the car is in my fathers drive way next to the 2 litre, my mothers Mazda GLC and the 2 motor cycles.

-The car is broken, more on that later, but when it does run, my father races it with the St. Lawrence Auto Club. Mostly SOLO II auto cross, but he has had it out to a few lap days at Mosport. Its an interesting car to drive on the street as loud as it is, lacking side markers, interior, and having to use the old German licence plate on the front so it doesn't chafe the paint.

-Depending on how you look at this, it's either extensively modified or almost completely original. Some back ground to tell you what I mean. 

-When brand new, (look up ^) this car along with 49 others were sent to a now defunct racing shop called Krabb Racing to be converted for racing duty in the German Touring Car Series. Think early Shelby Mustangs, same idea. Most of the car was stripped off, all four quarter panels were replaced with flared fibre glass versions, a very substantial air dam was added to the front, along with a foam rubber wing on the rear. The original bumpers were cut down and drilled, and the car still sports these today.

- The entire interior except the dash board was stripped out, then the radio was removed and replaced with a block out plate that later housed a boost gauge and transmission temp guage when the turbo was added. A center console was fabricated out of aluminium, and four more gauges were added, as well as a bank of switches to control everything from the driving lights to the fans fuel pumps and the ignition its self. An aluminium racing bucket and extensive roll cage filled all the available space.

-The suspension is very close to stock Capri, but with some up grades. At the rear is the original 7.5" Ford solid axle, suspended by a pair of mono-leaf springs and fully adjustable shocks. The differential had 2.73:1, now 3.25:1, gears and a limited slip.

-The front is still MacPhereson struts, but again, fully adjustable, lowered and with a different spring rate. Sway bars and larger front brakes from a Ford Taunus, yes Taunus, not Taurus were also added. 13"x8" BBS three piece wheels made for these 50 cars round that out. It now rides on 15"x8" PRIMEs wrapped in Toyo RA-1 Proxis.

-The transmission, a ZF 5-speed is also from a larger European Ford, possibly the aforementioned Taunus. The only modification made to it is a different shifter since the plastic pivot ball shattered. A heavy duty Centerforce clutch links it together and an aluminium one piece drive shaft gets power to the rear axle.

-I had to put the engine bits at the bottom otherwise you wouldn't read the rest, would you?

When the car left Krabb, it left with the original 2.8 V6. Sort of. The entire bottom end was redone, steel crank shaft and new pistons and connecting rods. The iron heads were ported, polished and new larger valves and double springs were fitted. The topper was an intake sporting three Solex 40-42 2 barrel carburetors. These were often found on old Saabs. This wasn't anything like a Chevy Tri-Power or Chrysler Six Pack. Each barrel of each carb had its own intake runner. Not a very street-able setup, considering it crammed over 1000 cfm down the throat of the little V6.

-Today the car sports a turbo charger from May Turbo. An Audi intercooler cools the charge before it goes through a Weber 2 barrel and aluminium intake. In street tune, runs around 13 psi and makes 300 wheel horsepower. It has been turned up as high as 30 psi for a short time, and it was astronomically fast. Pretty peppy in a car that only weighs 2200 pounds.

-When the car was built by Krabb originally, every part had to be available from Ford to keep it legal for the class they wanted to race in. Even today some of the parts are still available, like the body kit.

-I wasn't around yet, but as the story goes, the most memorable event to date was when the car was maxxed on the Autobahn. The speedometer on the car, still being the original, only goes up to 220 km/h. That is eclipsed well before the end of fourth gear. So one day the friend that convinced my father to buy the car decided they needed to know exactly how fast it was. So he gets in his Porsche Turbo, my father in the Capri. Now, I don't know how they figured it out, or the details of that blast, but I do know the Capri managed 283 km/h that night. Know the conversion? That's just a hair over 175 miles per hour. In a car built in 1975.

-This is the sadder part of this story. In the spring of 2009, we were taking the car out of winter storage, and a connecting rod decided it was time. It was a 34 year old bottom end, and it didn't exactly lead an easy life. The number one rod snapped clean in two, punching a hole in the oil pan and taking two large chunks out of the block. It was done for. It has taken six years to find all the parts again. The pistons and head gaskets for example had to be custom made for this engine. Try and find copper head gaskets or .060 over forged pistons for a 2.8 Ford V6 and let me know how you get on. But it is now almost ready to go back in the car. I cant wait.

-This car is #43 of 50 ever built. You are more likely to see certain super cars than one of these. And keep i mind all 50 of those were race cars. how many still survive? 30? 15? Maybe less? According to the Capri Club of North America, this is the only race spec John Players Special Capri on the continent. So its rare. It's one of the fastest things on the road. And at this point, it a family heirloom.

-Will he ever sell it? Not likely.

DT: Big thanks to Nick for the write up, this thing looks/sounds incredible.


Got your own ride and want to share? Send us some pics to You can just free form your words, or follow this questionnaire .

Year / Make / Model / Trim ?
How long have you owned it?
Why did you buy it?
What do you use it for (commute, fun, racing...etc)?
Is it stock or modified? If modified, please list some modifications.
What was the most memorable day in your car (proposed to wife, 3rd child born in back seat...etc)?
What was the most catastrophic failure of parts/components?
What makes you want to keep owning this car?
Will you ever sell it?


  1. Six years of finding parts? I'm sure it will be worth the wait. Thanks for sharing this incredible car!

  2. Thanks for sharing this incredibly cool car, neat story and great period photos!

  3. ¡Bravo!
    Looks like a ridiculously fun car.

  4. Great to see as that series was revered in Europe and not sold in any kind of numbers here in the states. Love the JPS colors

  5. Neat. Reminds me of the various Lotus models with the JPS variant.


  6. Nick! It's your Uncle Norm! Well written! It was a real privilege to do the new shortblock for your Dad's car. Can't wait to hear the next update. Maybe he'll let me drive it again. I still have your Capri drawing in the old truck, bud.

  7. Perfect car if you were going to make the movie "Bobby and the Bandit II".
    Very interesting and well written. Thanks!

  8. My first car was a '76 RS 2.8 in JPS black with gold pinstripes and my life's goal was to build it into something like this car. Sadly that car ate a quarter-mile of barbed wire fence thanks to it enthusiastic but extremely novice driver and those plans were shelved. I still spend spare moments looking for a clean Capri II to work from, or better - one already prepped for competition, but as yet the stars have not re-aligned for me. Knowing that cars like this are still out there and that people still enjoy them helps kindle my desire for a do-over on stewardship of one of these beasts. Thanks for sharing the car and the story!

  9. I have always loved the Capri, but this is just awesome. I have seen a lot of cars and owned an uncountable amount, but this is in the top 5 of my likes. Keep this bugger forever..

  10. Beautiful car sir, one of my favorite cars in high school


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