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     Capri RS Cosworth
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  Ford Capri RS Cosworth

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Country of origin:United States
Produced in:1974
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:July 08, 2007
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Click here to download printer friendly versionMotor racing success has often proven to be a very powerful marketing tool, so it came as no surprise that Ford announced a racing program soon after the launch of the all new Capri in 1969. With a slightly modified Capri 2300 GT, Ford competed in GT racing in 1969 and 1970 and with some success, highlighted by a class victory in the Tour de France Automobile in 1969.

For 1970, Weslake was called upon to develop more sophisticated aluminium heads for the Ford V6 engine. Communication problems between the Cologne, Germany based Ford racing team and the British Weslake greatly hampered the development of the new engines. The Capri was not on pace in the GT class anymore and halfway through the season Ford decided to switch to Group 2 Touring car racing for which at least 1000 examples had to be produced.

Especially for Touring car racing, the RS 2600 model was launched as a homologation special. With the help of Peter Ashcroft, the 2.6 litre V6 was modified to displace just under 3.0 litres. Fitted with the Weslake heads and Kugelfischer Fuel Injection the OHV V6 engine produced well over 280 bhp. Compared to its nearest and usually more powerful rivals, the Capri RS was as light as the proverbial feather, which gave it an edge over its competition.

In 1971 the Capri RS was the car to beat in the European Touring Car Championship and it was beaten only once. Jochen Mass took the driver's title, but it was Alfa Romeo who campaigned in a smaller class, that took the manufacturer's title. More competition was expected in 1972 from the newly founded BMW Motorsport team. Driving force behind the new team was Jochen Neerpasch, who had left Ford after the first race of 1972.

With the engine developed as far as the regulations allowed, Ford focussed on the chassis and especially on the suspension for 1972. Road going Capris featured McPherson struts front suspension and a live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear and according to the regulations no changes could be made to this basic setup. Ford evaded this rule by fitting very thin and basically useless leaf springs at the rear combined with 'additional' coil springs, which completely took over from the leafs.

With the BMW team still setting up, the Capris were rarely matched by anyone or on any track. The car dominated like it did in the previous year, but now Ford clinched both titles. Capris were also successfully entered in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Nürburgring 1000 km races, winning their class in both events. In 1973, the odds favoured BMW, with the new 3.5 litre engine 3.0 CSL model. A number of rule changes at the end of the season tipped the scales in favour of the Capri RS once more.

For the 1974 season the sport's governing body allowed DOHC heads to be fitted, of which only 100 examples had to be produced. With the help of Cosworth the new 3.4 litre quad-cam V6 engine was developed in 1973. The engine and heads were homologated by a short production run of the Capri RS 3100. Another big modification was the move of the radiators from the nose to the rear wheel arches for weight balance purposes. Performance of the revised Capri increased by quite a bit, with the engine pumping out around 440 - 450 bhp at around mid-season.

BMW was close on Ford's heels with a 100 car production run of the DOHC 3.0 CSL. The Capri and the CSL were the fastest cars in the championship, but neither eventually took the championship. At the end of the season it was Zakspeed who pipped the two works teams with their Ford Escort RS 1600s. Spiralling costs of the very advanced races and the oil-crisis meant the end of the Group 2 Touring car championship.

Ford never raced Capris as a works team again, but this was not the end of the Capri's racing career. In 1977 started on a Group 5 racer loosely based on the third series Capri. The silhouette racer featured a full spaceframe chassis with a 1.4 litre Turbocharged engines producing well over 300 bhp. Again the Capri proved to be a very efficient racing machine.

Featured is one of the very first quad-cam Capris, raced with great success in the Belgian and Swedish Touring Car Championships. It was retired at the end of the 1976 season and stored for many years. In 2006 it was restored from the ground up for its current owner. He is seen here taking it out at the 2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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  Article Image gallery (13) Specifications User Comments (3)