When I saw my first Capri commercial in the early 70's, I knew I had to have one. I purchased a used 1972 2600 V6 in 1976 and ever since the Sexy European has been a favorite. I sold my first 72 years ago, and have driven new cars since, but I always knew I would own a Capri again.
My Story begins in April 1995. I was looking through the Mercury section of cars for sale in the newspaper when I ran across an ad that read:
74 Capri, V-6, 4 spd, am/fm, sunroof,
new tires & batt. Reliable. $995.00 OBO.
At last! I had found a Capri for sale after searching on and off for the last couple of years! I called the number, got directions and was off to see the car.
When I pulled onto the street I saw the Capri in front of the house. It was white and pretty straight, no major dents or rust. The interior was trashed, but what do you expect for a car that was 21 years old and had been through our summers here in Arizona! I took it out for a test drive, it ran pretty good...no major problems.
After looking at the car again, I offered $600.00 cash and with that the Capri was mine. My initial thought was to use the car as a daily driver, but then I decided to restore it to original and that's where my restoration project begins.
The car is originally from Riverside California and I am the fourth owner. It was brought to Arizona about 10 years ago. It features the 2800 V6, optional decor package "B" that included the heated rear window and it has a factory sunroof. After checking the identification codes I found my Capri was built in June 1974 and was originally silver metallic in color.
I decided to start the restoration in the passenger compartment and work my way out to the engine and body. The seats were trashed and the metal frames were sticking out from the rotting foam rubber that was covered with rags that barely passed as seat covers. Mechanically the seats worked fine and the frames were in good shape. After removing the seats I checked for the starter interlock system that was required on some early 1974 models. It was designed as a "safety system" to keep the car from starting without the seatbelts being engaged. Luckily my car did not have that system to contend with. The seats were pretty straight forward. I took them to a local upholstery shop to be rebuilt. I had them stripped to bare frame and rebuilt with new foam rubber. I chose to have the seats done in a combination of black vinyl and cloth. I picked a black "houndstooth" cloth used in the Escort to do the interior parts since the summers here in Arizona can get pretty warm and vinyl seating can get pretty sticky and uncomfortable. The upholsterer sewed the seats using the same stitch that was applied to the original vinyl seats and the finished product looks fantastic!
While the seats were getting re-upholstered, I gutted the passenger compartment by removing the console, carpet, door, cowl and quarter panel trim. The headliner, not original, was in poor shape and it was replaced sometime during my Capri's life. I decided to have a new headliner made at the upholstery shop that was doing my seats. I opted for another black headliner to match the rest of the interior. Under the headliner I found insulation was added, it was in good condition and I figured extra insulation for summer was good, so I left it.
When I got the headliner out, I found a piece of what I believe to be original headliner. The piece was tan in color, which explained why I had two-tone sunvisors in black and tan. Although I can't confirm this color scheme was offered, (The showroom catalog and factory manual were not clear on this) I must assume the original interior was black and tan.
I ordered "custom carpet" from J.C. Whitney's catalog. What a mistake. The ad stated the carpet was cut and molded for your specific model, but this stuff was ill fitted, wrinkled and bumpy. I had to customize it myself to make it fit. I am not completely happy with it but it looks better then what it replaced!
I sandblasted all the interior metal trim pieces and repainted them back to black. The interior plastic parts from the dash and console were repainted to black also. I used a product call "Sand free" that was available from my auto paint store. "Sand free" opens the pores on plastic so it will receive paint better. It does a great job!
The dashpad was faded and cracked and was in desperate need of restoration. I decided to have it rebult. It took seven weeks to get the dash back but the results were fabulous. I opted to delete the radio speaker holes so now I have a smooth surface across the whole dash. The cost to restore the dash was $350.00. Team Blitz offers a new dash skin for $79.00, however it was not available when I did my restoration. The Team Blitz skin does not require removal of the dashboard from the car, either!
My biggest problem proved to be the package shelf. My Capri did not have one! It had long ago rotted from the Arizona sun. Since I did not have parts source yet, I tried the local wrecking yards. That soon turned out to be an experience.... "Sorry, nothing that old" or "I haven't seen one of those cars in years!" I was beginning to wonder if I was going to be able to restore this car since parts seemed impossible to find! By sheer luck I spotted an ad for a 74 Capri being parted out. I drove 30 miles to the far north side of Phoenix. The car was pretty intact although some trim parts I needed were already gone. However, the package shelf was there! It was broken and brittle but I got it out. I proceeded to strip as much from that car as I could get (Can't have too many spare parts!).
I asked the guy how much for everything. Hmmmm, lets see, you got the hood, marker lights, various other parts... sure you don't want the whole car? (Sorry, no trailer to tow it home with!) Well, $65.00 sound fair? Sure Does! With that I had renewed my hope I could restore this car.
The package shelf was going to be tricky. It was fairly intact but was broken where it drops down between the seats. I assembled the pieces and decided to use a fiberglass repair kit to rebuild the shelf. The shelf was brittle and required great care in handling, after assembling the parts I applied the cloth and resin to the back of the shelf. After drying I lightly sanded the repaired areas. Since the cracks from where the parts were joined together were going to show I decided to cover the shelf with black "flocked" material (like is used in new cars) and it not only added strength it really enhanced the look! The most tedious work was cutting the vent holes on the rear of the shelf, cutting the fiberglass with a razor knife was time-consuming, but it had to be done.
Next was the steering wheel. I removed the wheel trim and padding, checked for damage, then cleaned them. I used a chrome-silver paint to do the trim on the wheel and black on all other areas needed.
I had the step plates buffed and polished and I replaced the old screws with new stainless steel ones. I really did not realize how many small detail parts I needed until I really got in the final stretch! I had to find the package shelf buttons and retainers, dash rheostat knob, chrome lever trim for the doors, regulator inserts, glove box knob, trim clips for the door panels and other various parts that you can't find just anywhere! I located most thoughTeam Blitz and from a few cars I did find in a wrecking yard. After a summer of work (and sweating in the 100 degree temperatures!) I finished the interior. I must say it looks great! Night and day from where my Capri used to be!
After checking all the electrical circuits and switches I found I had no major problems except missing or burnt out light bulbs, missing door jam switches and a Jerry-rigged ignition switch. The ignition switch was from a 76 or 77 Capri, the wires were spliced into the old plug from the 74 so replacing it was not a real hassle, except I had to drill out the bolts that hold the lock onto the steering column. The door jam light switch were gon also, so I ordered a new ignition and jam switches from Team Blitz. Installation of the new switches was straight forward, following the outline in the Ford manual.
Other problems I encountered were the glove box contact switch was broken, instrument cluster, clock, map light, license plate lights and marker lights were missing or burnt out. I was able to locate the license and clock bulbs from my Ford dealer, apparently they were also used on the Festiva. The other bulbs I scavenged from donor cars. I was also able to get the glove box contact switch and marker light parts from the same donors.
The instrument cluster was my next project. I removed it and took it apart cleaning the gauges and all the terminals on the circuit board. I ran a test of the IVR by attaching a 12 volt tester to the wire from the sending unit on the gas tank and then grounding the tester. I turned the key to the running (II) position to check the IVR, if the test light blinked it would indicate the IVR is good, if not it would need replacement. The test indicated it was good.
My fuel gauge would only indicate ¼ full so I ran a test to see if the gauge, sending unit or wires were at fault. I grounded the sending wire which cause the needle on the gauge to register full, this indicated the sending unit was faulty, so I added a new sending unit to my parts list for my next order to Team Blitz. Since my temperature gauge ran on the high side of normal I ran a test to see if there was any problems. The test showed no problems, so I assume the gauge is not accurate, which I heard from other Capri owners.
When I was doing the electrical work I found that the cable from the heater to the water valve was broken. I got a new heater cable, but when it came to replacing it I found that it looks so simple in the manual, but in real life.... NOT! I found the hole for the cable was way up behind the A/C evaporator and was next to impossible to get to! I tried to snake the cable from the engine.... no luck. I was twisted and contorted inside the passenger compartment trying to get that cable through... I finally succeeded and hooked it up.
After putting the dash back together and checking to see if all the lights and switches worked, I moved on to the fuel tank to replace the sending unit. I removed the tan from the trunk (not as easy as it would seem) and removed the old sending unit. The tank was pretty rusty on the inside so I opted to have it boiled out and cleaned. I took it to my local radiator shop, it took a week and $125.00 but it looked new when I got it back. I repainted the tank to black and installed the new sending unit, then put it back in the trunk.
The body and paint were next. My Capri was all white with the wheels spray-painted black. The V6 emblems, rocker trim, headlight bezels and faux intakes were missing and needed to be replaced.
The body was straight, no major rust except a small hole in the lower right fender behind the wheel well. The paint code on the ID tag indicated that my car was originally Silver Metallic and since it was a V6, the rear end and rockers would be black.
I decided to strip the car to metal so if there was any hidden rust or damage it would be easy to spot. I removed the chrome rain gutters, quarter windows and frames, door window frames, handles, trunk lock, front and rear glass and the CAPRI hood letters and rear moniker. The bumpers were next, the steel beam under the plastic bumper covers were heavy and awkward to remove...it was not one of Ford's better ideas. The sunroof panel and mechanics were last. With the car tripped it was time for the paint to come off.
Looking back it would have been wiser to do the body first, but since I did the interior already I covered everything up inside the car so it wouldn't get damaged. I used a chemical stripper called POR-15, it worked really well. Simply brush it on and in a few minutes the paint started to bubble and lift the old paint. When I got to metal, I had found my Capri had 3 coats of paint...the original silver, then yellow, then white.
With the car stripped, it was time to fix the rust in the front fender. I cut out the rust and replaced it with a steel patch, then welded the fender back on to the frame where it had broken loose. The rest of the body was in good shape, very little bondo and no other rust!
I towed the Capri to a paint shop where it was prepped and readied for paint. I consulted a paint chip and code sheet to match up the silver metallic. I chose a 1980 Ford color called "Iceberg Silver". It looked identical to the color used in 1974. We did the car in a base coat/clear coat and painted the rear end, rockers and fascia around the grill and headlights in gloss black since this was how it was originally painted in 1974. The bumpers needed some work since they were cracked in places. When the bumpers were done they looked great!
When Alberto did the first of 4 coats of paint, I got a panic call from him "MIKE, YOUR CAR IS BLUE! I SPRAYED THE FIRST COAT AND IT LOOKS BLUE!"...I went to look at the car and when looking straight on, it looked silver, but at an angle it takes on a blue cast...now I know why it was called Iceberg Silver paint! I thought it looked great so I told Alberto to finish the job!
When I got the car home I put it up on blocks and removed the wheels. I sandblasted the wheels to metal and repainted tem to original using gloss black and steel color paint, finishing them off with a clearcoat. I will be replacing these wheels shortly with another wheel that was offered as an option for 1974.
With the car safely stored in my garage, I let it sit for 30 days so the paint could get a chance to fully cure before I started to put all the trim and other parts on. When I started to ready the car for paint I was in the process of removing the windshield when it broke, due to the excessive amount of adhesive that was applied last time the windshield was put in. So, now I had to find a new windshield. I called a few local glass places with no luck, finally I did located new glass with factory tint. I also needed to locate a heated rear window since the car had that option but somewhere it its life a plain glass rear window was installed.
The rubbler for the windows was another story. The windsheild rubber was brittle and broke. I also need new scrapers for the door windows since the rubber long ago rotted away. I ordered some used rubber from Team Blitz and I was most impressed with the condition, they looked almost new! I guess rubber doesn't get eaten as bad in Ohio as it does in Arizona. Team Blitz has since reproduced all the rubber weatherstripes for the Capri, as well as the chrome lock strip for front and rear seals.
I had the CAPRI letters on the hood and the rear nameplate re- chromed, but that too turned into somewhat of a nightmare. The shop that did the work said it would take 3 weeks to do the job, when week 6 came and went I called them again to find out what was taking so long. They LOST my rear nameplate, and he was stalling me while he located another! Needless to say I was not a happy camper...however they did locate a new nameplate and finished the work 5 weeks late!
I had the rear trunk trim, gutter trim, quarter window trim and door handles polished by a local shop. With that the time came to put my Capri back together again! I reattached the CAPRI letters to the hood and nameplate to the trunk, using a rubber mallet to gently tap them into place. The antenna was gone so I replaced it. Next the V6 emblems were reattached as were the faux intakes.
The trim for the rain gutters went back on with a bit of trouble. I think they were slightly warped during the polishing process, however I simply crimped the end and with that they were attached. The quarter window trim was riveted into place with little effort. The door trim with the rubber scrapers went on next. Clipping them back into placw was fairly easy, then came the door handles.
I had gotten some used rocker trim and hat it polished also and got new trim clips from Team Blitz. It went on with only a few problems, that was due mainly to some crimps where the clips were supposed to hold it. I replaced the blue oval "FORD" decals in the door sill and then put the trunk trim back on.
The bumpers were last, the steel reinforcement under the plastic cover weighed like 75 pounds and was a bit of a chore to put back on, but with the help of a friend I was able to reinstall with little problem. I replaced the stainless strip in the bumpers with new and reinstalled the rubber covers. The covers have about 12 long screws that attach it to the reinforcement, it wasn't too difficult as long as it was lined up properly.
The trunk lock went back in easier than it was to take out. The rear lights were reinstalled using a bead of silicone to prevent moisture seeping into the trunk, then the license plate holder and lights were reinstalled. I also replace the weather-strip around the trunk and the windlace under the hood with new from Team Blitz.
Last to be installed was the sunroof. The previous owner used foam weather-strip around the panel, I replace that with a new factory strip. The mechanical parts were a mixture of parts that the previous owner had used to keep the roof operational, however it never closed right so I replaced the wrong parts with the right ones I got from a donor car.
I replaced the guides, cable and rail retainers as well as the mounting brackets and slides. I used a silicon lubricant to ensure easy sliding when the roof was opened. I installed all the new parts and put in the panel, after several adjustments I was able to get the roof to open and close properly.
One last round of reinstalls included the headlights, headlight bezels, grille, door glass and quarter window glass. I installed new rubber around the quarter windows that was reproduced by Team Blitz, it matches the original exactly!
When all was said and done the paint and bodywork was $1,800.00 plus other miscellaneous parts which was around $500.00. I have not added it all up yet! I planned to restore my Capri back to as close to original as possible. My expenditures might be more than your average Capri owner might spend, however when I drive my Capri to looks and comments make it all worthwhile.
I have spent 3 years on this project and there is always something new to do each time I work on the car. More to come about the engine and suspension rebuild soon.
Copyright © 1997 Capri Club North America. All rights reserved.