Buxton and Crich Tramway Museum

Enjoyed a 1977 Ford Capri 1600L on the Guild of Motoring Writers Classic to Buxton and the splendid Tram Museum at Crich. A 1.6 is no flyer, see entry from The Ford In Britain File below, but it drives nicely. I collected it from Ford’s historic collection, housed in a modest little building in the middle of the Dagenham complex. What a treasure-trove. A hundred cars from Ford’s past, from GT40 to Model Y. The Capri is typically well-maintained. A lady, who didn’t want it to fall into some boy racer’s hands, donated it to the collection when it had only 25,000miles on the clock.

Crews confer, Crich Tramway Museum

Curious to drive with such a narrow-rimmed steering wheel. Was it somehow fashionable then? I remember Rolls-Royces had them. Steering wheels are now fat and chunky following the style set by racing cars of the 1960s. Drum brakes didn’t feel bad although I didn’t work them hard. Fade resistance was one of the advances discs made, but they weren’t spongy or slow to react and stopping distances seemed about right. We weren’t going very fast. Four speed gearbox. You stop looking for a fifth after a time. No rev counter and a plain facia of plastic-looking wood. Two speed wipers – the intermittent control was very intermittent indeed, sometimes stopped the wipers in the line of sight and they weren’t self-parking. The windows have a novel system for disappearing into the doors – a handle that you wind round and round. Amazingly simple and effective. No electric motors to go wrong. Comfortable seats but no head restraints. I was glad nobody ran into us from behind. Good boot. Good quality materials for carpets and facia although a lot of black made it look a bit gloomy. Low road noise, narrow tyres, didn’t drive much in the wet but it seemed stable enough. Heavy steering at parking speeds was hard work. Engine tolerably quiet and visibility good with narrow screen pillars. The ride was even and showed no sign of aging with effective dampers. What a commendably good-value classic; the Capri looks the part and people certainly look at it and smile. The L was fairly basic with cloth and leathery-looking upholstery. It’s odd not having central locking. Ruth remembered to hold the handle up when you shut the door – just the way you used to lock yourself out of a car with the key inside. Wheels typically Ford painted to look like alloy or Rostyle. The bodywork has lasted amazingly well.

The Capri was well proportioned – not quite like Lyons’ old SS with long bonnet, low roofline and not much accommodation. It’s quite roomy and although there is some wasted space in the engine compartment, there is not as much sacrifice for style as one remembers. Splendid radio with buttons that went straight to Radio 4 on long wave and never varied wherever you were. Absence of airbags makes an airy interior. Gearshift crisp. Vinyl roof is a big fashion statement – hangover from Riley RM and others that looked like faux convertibles but only had them to conceal bad presswork and ugly joints. They had a lot to learn about shut-lines in 1977 – you could get your fingers down the sides of the bootlid, although the water channelling was good and nothing leaked even on this 32 year old car.

From The Ford in Britain File: 1974 Capri II 1300 and 1600

With the world in the grip of the first oil crisis manufacturers seized the opportunity to put now model announcements on hold. Not Ford. It took the plunge with the already successful Capri to introduce styling changes, provide more room inside, and while remaining strictly 2+2, introduce the hatchback making the car far more practical. Folding down the rear seat gave huge luggage capacity. It was surprising really that it had not been done in the first place following the example of the MGB GT. The crease along the body side was discarded, and the dummy air intakes ahead of the rear wheel arch dispensed with, giving a smoother more sophisticated appearance. Slimmer windscreen pillars and bigger windows gave better visibility all round and although the innovations with their attendant reinforcement round the double-skinned gas-strutted tailgate increased the body weight by 27.22kg (60lb) they were well worthwhile. Using much the same Cortina underpinnings the 1300 had a pushrod crossflow Kent engine and the 1600 the latest Pinto overhead camshaft engine giving it a lively turn of speed. Capris continued to be made in Britain until 1976-1977 when production was concentrated in Germany. The array of trim packs available with the first Capri was reduced; buyers had been confused and in many cases dealers ordering cars for stock failed to identify the most popular options. 224

Autocar 30 March 1974 road test

INTRODUCTION Dec 1973 production to Oct 1976 in Britain and Jan 1978 in Germany

BODY coupe; 2-doors, 2+2-seats; weight 1010kg (2226.65lb), 1600 1040kg (2292.78lb)

ENGINE 4-cylinders, in-line; front; 80.98mm x 62.99mm, 1297cc; compr 9.2:1; 42.51kW (57bhp) @ 5500rpm; 91 Nm (67lbft) @ 3000rpm; 32.8kW/l (44bhp/l). 1600 87.7 x 66mm; 1593cc 53.69kW (72bhp) @5200rpm; 33.7kW (45.2bhp)/l; 118Nm (87lbft) @ 3000rpm. 1600GT 65.62kW (88bhp)

ENGINE STRUCTURE 3034E pushrod ohv; chain-driven camshaft; cast iron cylinder head, block; Ford GPD carburettor, centrifugal and vacuum ignition; mechanical fuel pump; 5-bearing crankshaft. 1600 ohc, 1600GT Weber carb

TRANSMISSION rear wheel drive; 19.05cm (7.5in) (1600 GT 21.59cm (8.5in)) diaphragm spring cable-operated clutch; 4-speed manual all-synchromesh gearbox; hypoid bevel final drive 4.125:1. 1600 3.77:1. 1600GT 3.75:1

CHASSIS steel monocoque structure; ifs by MacPherson struts and anti roll bar; live rear axle with half-elliptic springs and anti-roll bar, telescopic dampers; Girling hydraulic disc brakes at front, 24.4cm (9.61in); 20.32cm (8in) rear drums (1600 22.86cm (9in)); dual circuit; optional vacuum servo (1600 std); rack and pinion steering; 57.73l (12.7gal)(15.24US gal) fuel tank; 165-13; 185/70 – 13 optional radial-ply tyres, 5Jrims

DIMENSIONS wheelbase 256cm (100.8in); track front 135.38cm (53.3in) rear 138.43cm (54.5in); length 434.09cm (170.9in); width 169.93cm (66.9in); height 129.79cm (51.1in); ground clearance 10.41cm (4.1in); turning circle 10.67m (35ft)

EQUIPMENT toughened glass windscreen, laminated extra, brushed nylon seats extra

Maximum speed 167kph (104mph) 1600, Autocar
1300 26.17kph (16.3mph), 1600 28.57kph (17.8mph), 1600GT 28.73kph (17.9mph) @ 1000rpm; 0-100kph (62mph) 11.4sec; fuel consumption 10.2l/100km (27.7mpg)

PRICE 1300L £1336.25, 1600L £1415.83, 1600GT £1632.92
PRODUCTION 84,400 all Capri II in Britain