Racing the "Fox" Capri 1979-1986
Like the Lincoln Capri and the European Capri before it, the "Fox" Capri was also a successful race car, especially in the Trans-Am series.
Ford's wind tunnel testing revealed that Capris fitted with the "bubble" hatch had significantly less drag than its Mustang sibling, even if the Mustang was also fitted with a "bubble" hatch. The difference amounted to about a 2 MPH advantage in straightaway speed for the Capri, so once the "bubble" hatch was homologated the Mercury Capri became Ford's primary Trans-Am weapon. Mercury Capris dominated the series in the mid 1980s.
In 1984, Team Roush Protofab of Livonia, Michigan began running a pair of "Fox" Capris in the Trans Am racing series. The team owners were Jack Roush and Charlie Selix. The engine builder was Bob Kerns. Their drivers were Willy T. Ribbs, (who later drove at Indy) and Greg Pickett. Their major sponsor was Motorcraft.
Tom Gloy was also racing a Capri in Trans-Am that year, in his own car, sponsored by 7-11.
After a slow start of the 1984 season, Pickett won at Sears Point and Portland. He was third at Detroit, fourth at Brainerd, Minnesota, and second at both Trois Rivieres, Quebec and Mosport Park, Ontario. He won again at Seattle and the second Sears Point race (appropriately called The Mercury Capri Fall Classic). A broken gearbox lead to a disappointing finish at Green Valley, Texas, but he placed a respectable fourth at Las Vegas. He ended the season with 189 points, second overall, with four victories and two seconds.
Although he missed the first four races, Ribbs finished second at Detroit, and then won the Paul Revere 250 at Daytona Beach, and the next race at Brainerd Minnesota. After a DNF at Road America, he won again at Watkins Glen. A punctured tire prevented a good showing at Trois Riveres, but he placed third the next week at Mosport. He placed second behind Pickett at the second Sears Point race. He won again at Green Valley, Texas. Despite a disappointing finish in the final race at Las Vegas, he finished the season with 155 points, third overall, with four victories and two seconds.
Tom Gloy, like Pickett, got off to a bad start at Road Atlanta, but finished third at Summit Point. He was second behind Pickett at both Sears Point and Portland, and was the winner at Detroit. (A 1-2-3 victory for the Capris!) He was second at Road America and Watkins Glen. He won again at Trois Riveres, and placed fourth at Mosport. He placed second in Seattle. Brake problems held him down to a fifth place finish at the second Sears Point race, and he took fourth the next week at Riverside. Gloy left the race at Green Valley early due to a shift linkage problem, but he went on to win the final race at Las Vegas. Despite only three wins to the other Capris' four each, Gloy's six second place finishes helped to give him a total of 225 points and the championship.
With eleven Capri wins in sixteen races, Lincoln-Mercury easily won the 1984 Trans-Am Manufacturer's championship.
Roush prepared Mercury Capris enjoyed even greater Trans-Am success in 1985. Willy T. Ribbs returned to win seven races, while Wally Dallenbach Jr. won five races and at age 22 became the youngest Trans-Am series champion (Ribbs finished second overall). The twelve victories in fifteen races again handed the manufacturer's championship to Lincoln-Mercury.
Chevrolet posed a serious challenge to the Capri's Trans-Am dominance in 1986, winning five of the first six races. Lincoln-Mercury and Team Roush rose to the challenge, and Capris won four of the final five races to capture the manufacturer's championship for the third year in a row.
Dearborn, Michigan, USA
Ford Fox platform
2.3 to-3 Turbo RS
5.0 carb or efi
4-speed O/D manual
Here are some special editions for the Capri:
1981-1983 Black Magic - Black cars with gold striping, gold metric TRX wheels and a gold cat's head on each side of the "nose piece" just ahead of the front fender. The interior received special black seats with gold inserts. The 1983 model is extremely rare and the only Black Magic to receive the compound rear window.
1981-1982 White Lightning aka White Magic - This was actually the "Black Magic" version but it was allowed to be ordered in white. Dealers coined the "White Lightning" phrase from a magazine ad that Mercury ran. Mercury never used the term directly. In 1981 there were 575 "White Magic" models produced, but the rarer year was 1982 of which only 348 "White Magic" models were manufactured.
1983 Crimson Cat - Red with gold striping and cougar TRX wheels set this car apart. Much like the Black Magic, the Crimson Cat received custom black seats with red inserts. Only 805 crimson cats were made
1984 Charcoal Turbo RS - A Capri RS Turbo that was only available in Charcoal upper / Silver lower exterior paint with Light Grey striped rub mouldings, Garret 60 trim turbocharger, enhanced multiport EFI 4-cylinder engine, Michelin TRX package, 5.0 HO Sway bars, 3.45:1 limited slip rear axle, hood scoop, and orange and red lettering and striping. Sun and T Top roof were optional.
1984-1986 ASC McLaren Coupes and Convertibles - ASC (American Sunroof Corporation, now known as American Specialty Cars) converted Capris into convertibles and enhanced standard hatchbacks which they renamed "Coupes". The Coupes were tuned and enhanced with a number of suspension and visual upgrades including striping, a built-in radar detector, ground effects, Hella fog lights, headlight and tailight covers and honey comb wheels imported from Campagnolo in Italy. 1984 Coupes (25 produced) were all painted midnight blue. 1985-1986 Coupes (150 produced in 1985) were either painted blue or white. In 1986 (115 made), the last year for the Coupes, customers had an even larger choice of colors, including Smoke Charcoal Grey & Raven Black, joining the Oxford White and Midnight Blue.
Coupes were secretly equipped with the Ford Motorsport B303 camshaft, creating significantly more power than the rated 200/210BHP of the standard 5.0 motors. Additionally, all coupes were shod with BF Goodrich Comp T/A radials, in a soft racing compound, and shaved for track use. The 225/50/15 low profile size of these tires raised the ASC/McLaren Coupe's effective gear ratio or approximately 3.35:1. These were the quickest cars produced by Ford in 1985 & 1986 with zero to sixty times under six seconds.
The convertibles were a far more involved project. This required the redesigning of the car's unit construction and the fabrication of a replacement rear deck lid, floor reinforcements, quarter panel caps, tonneau cover and a windshield that was raked back an extra 10 degrees. They received a manual convertible top that took up residence in the area once designated for the rear seats. The ascMcLaren convertibles use a smaller top than the Mustang convertible that is unique to that car, as are the seals, weatherstriping, windshield moldings, etc.
ascMcLaren Capris far outsold Saleen Mustangs, year for year.
1985 Mercury Motorsport Capri - Grand Prix IV Pace Car - 30 were built in 1985 as pace cars for the Detroit Grand Prix. These were also modified by ASC McLaren for Mercury and are highly sought after for their racing heritage. About two-thirds are accounted for.
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