I have a 1973 2.0L Capri set up to race in SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) GT-3 Class. The engine is a 2000cc "Pinto" motor, 11.5 to1 compression, Racer Walsh Stage 3 cam, dual valve springs, oversize valves, Electromotive crank fire Ignition, dual 44PHH Mikuni crabs, Schoenfeld Headers, Flow master muffler, 7 quart oil pan with an Accusump and oil cooler for a total system of 13 quarts. The car has an ATL 15 gallon fuel cell and runs 108-octane leaded gasoline.
The front suspension is a lowered, adjustable strut, lowered rear spring mounts, anti-sway bars front and rear , Koni shocks, locked rear axle, 21X10.0-13 tires on 13x7 wheels, for a ground clearance of 2.5 inches.
The brakes are Wilwood Dynalite II discs and are activated with a Tilton pedal assembly. All brake, fuel, and oil lines are steel braided hose. Personal safety is enhanced with a full rollcage, Simpson 5-point harness, Kirkey seat and a 5 lb. fire extinguisher.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the car is the T-5 transmission from a 2.3L Mustang. It required a modified bellhousing to make it work and utilizes a Tilton OT-II two plate clutch and Tilton concentric hydraulic throw-out release.
The car currently retains its steel body, hood, trunk lid, and doors, although the doors have been gutted. It also retains the original glass in the windshield and rear window. Aero aids include a DOBI front spoiler and a custom adjustable 3" rear spoiler (rules limitation). The battery has been relocated to the right rear passenger area. The exhaust comes through the firewall, into the muffler, located where the front passenger seat usually is, and exits though the "kick up" to the rear seat area.
I started my racing career in 1990 at Waterford Hills near Detroit, Michigan. It is a club using SCCA rules (with a few amendments), but independent of SCCA. It is not really in competition with SCCA, more like a companion club. They have a web site: waterfordhills.com.
I started out with in ITA in a 1974 2.8 Capri. ITA includes cars of fairly equal potential, such as Mazda RX3's, VW Rabbits, Honda Civics, etc. IT stands for Improved Touring which means the car is streetable, but not stock. You are allowed to blueprint the engine, utilize any springs, shocks, or sway bars, some removal of interior pieces and the addition of safety equipment such as a roll cage, fire extinguisher and shoulder harness. They say the cars are streetable, but the suspensions are much too stiff to be regularly driven on the street, so very few people actually drive their IT cars to the track.
As a novice driver I was required to go to drivers school, which turned out to be extremely valuable. I entered my first race with a lot of apprehension, but it turned out OK. I raced for 2 years until this happened:
George Harkless and I took the engine out and put it in his ITA Capri. George's immaculately prepared car did not deserve this engine, as it was my first attempt at engine building. We shared that car for a year until I bought this:
From the first time I raced it, I have had problem after problem. Initially it was the engine, which would foul the spark plugs at 6500 rpm, but had no power below 4500 rpm (due to the cam). I eventually traced this to way, way over rich carb settings.
The next problem was wheel hop when I down shifted. I had the rear shocks rebuilt, which only helped a little. What really fixed it was more practice.
The car had so much understeer and a peculiar lurch going into a corner. At first I tried replacing the stock antiwindup bars (on the rear axle) with heim jointed bars. This change caused the car to corner with a back and forth motion that was very unnerving. The car would go into the corner fine then the rear end would suddenly lurch, which caused me to back off, which made the car lurch back and so on around the corner. I took those bars off and added a rear sway bar. The car still understeered, but it was better.
At this point, 1994, I moved from Detroit to Charlotte, NC. I put the car away for a year while I settled in.
I decided my engine was worn out so I had one built.
Because I never held an SCCA license, just a Waterford Hills license, I had to go to drivers school again. At the ROCK - North Carolina Motor Speedway at Rockingham. BTW, driving on the banking is way cool!!!
I continued to have problems. The clutch spring was so strong it started breaking the plastic end on the clutch cable. I jerry-rigged a pipe to replace the plastic, then the engine threw a lifter off. This was the result of the engine builder not using long adjustment studs with a high lift cam. I did not complete the school.
I went home dejected, vowing to fix the clutch problem by going hydraulic. And while I was at it, why not a 5 speed. I had heard that a T-5 would fit behind my 2.0L (This was before I joined the Capri-List), so I purchased a T-5 out of a Mustang 2.3 along with a bellhousing and crossmember.
If you have followed some of the threads on the Capri List, you will know the later 2.3L's (out of Mustangs and T Birds) have different bellhousings than the 2.3L Capri's. I had a spare 2.0L bellhousing (Long story, there!) and proceeded to cobble together one that would fit.
The next step was the clutch. Ordered all the Tilton parts (the clutch, pedal assembly, master cylinder, and throwout release) from Hutchison-Pagan, the same folks that many of the Winston Cup teams use.
The throw-out release was designed for a 3 plate clutch and doesn't have enough travel for the single plate I was using. Tilton and I figured out that if I used a spacer on the throwout, fully extended the adjustment, and used a 2 plate clutch, it would work. And it did, after I figured out why the first plate was falling off the nose of the input shaft.
I also took the existing crossmember and drilled a couple of holes for the trans mount. A word to those considering a T-5: The trans mount for a Mustang is really tall. But Ford uses the same type of trans mounts for various models, including Automatics in Vans. My tow car (or is that Tow Van) has a mount that was a full 1" shorter, so I hopped down to the local Ford dealer, mount in hand, and ordered it by part number (All Ford parts have a part number on them somewhere). All this took a year and a half. OK, I sat out a year to hide the expenses from you-know-who. I mean the clutch plates themselves were $200.00 each and I had to buy 4 of them.
So in August of 1999, I am ready for drivers school (What!! Again??). My choices were_.., well there were no choices. So it was wait until February.
In Feb, 2000 I attended another drivers school at Roebling Road, Savannah, Georgia. Problems encountered: 2 Electrical fires, a very sick driver, and a broken clutch. What happened is the turn down pipe for the exhaust fell off (When, Where?) and the exhaust was exiting the muffler directly at the kick up panel near the rear axle (remember, the exhaust goes through the firewall and exits through this kickup panel.) This area of the car was getting very hot and melting a wire - causing a short. That was the 2 electrical fires. The sick driver was caused by the exhaust fumes entering the cockpit - carbon monoxide. The broken clutch was traced to the splines being worn away on the clutch plates - there are 2 versions of the T-5 and I had the smaller input shaft version, but was using the larger clutch plates.
In spite of all my problems, they allowed me to pass the school (based on all my previous experience). I will tell you about the rest of the tribulations in a later installment.
Here's the last photo taken of the car about half a lap before the #2 rod quit and put a hole in the block. Driver's fault - he missed 4th gear and got second instead - I'm guessing 12,000 rpm. Also, I have beaten this Corvette on another course - He is fast on the straights, but I more than make up for it under braking and in the corners.
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