1975 DAVID HASSALL talks with Ian Smith, who visited Germany and took a close look at this big budget flier in Ford's Cologne Plant.
IN ITS CAMPAIGN to be top dog of the European Touring Car Championship ball game the Ford Motor Company spent loads of money developing its sporty looking, but mundane-performing, Capri two-door into a racer that could knock off anything anybody else in the world could throw at it.
So the German Capri grew from a 2.6-litre car to a 2.9-litre racer, to 3.1-litres and in its ultimate form to a 3.4-litre 300 kW firebreather. With local motor racing regulations promoting what amounts to an isolationist policy Australian motor racing fans never expected to see one of these super trick Capris (or the equally trick 3.5-litre BMW racers) Down Under - but Allan Moffat changed all that.
Competition on the local sports sedan scene was such that Moff's '69 Mustang was getting hard pressed to contain the opposition and wily Allan figured that a trick Cologne Capri - with some subtle lightening in places would have the performance to stay with "funny cars" like John McCormack's Charger and Bryan Thomson's VW Chev in straight lines but with its sophisticated suspension and superb handling would run all round the heavies in the corners.
His judgment was borne out at the car's first Australian race meeting when Moffat, in his second drive in the car, came from behind to beat Bob Jane and Bryan Thomson at Sandown Park on a circuit that favors big horsepower cars. Since then he has also taken on what amounted to the ultimate Australian sports sedan - the Laurie O'Neil/Craven Mild Racing Monaro 350 of Big Pete Geoghegan - at Lakeside and emerged the victor after the Australian built car ran into reliability problems during the day.
Moffat took delivery of his Cologne Capri in late February after it had been shipped from South Africa, where it had been raced. But I was able to take a close look at the car a couple of months earlier at Ford's Cologne racing department in Germany.
Design and construction of the car is absolutely superb in its quality and attention to detail, but I was also impressed at the innovation involved. There is nothing in Australia to equal it in this respect.
The responsibility of getting the car ready for the 1974 European season was in the hands of Cologne's chief engineer Thomas Ammerschlaeger, with his backup of engineers taking over development.
Although Germany handles Ford's racing and Britain looks after the company's rallying involvement, the heart of the new Capri actually came from Britain, but not from the Boreham competition centre.
Keith Duckworth of Cosworth fame was approached in 1972 about the possibility of producing a more potent V6 engine than the Weslake unit which was being used at the time in three-litre guise. Duckworth agreed, half-way through the season in which the Ford team used no less than 30 engines in six cars to win the European Touring Car Championship.
Weslake's engine was based on the German RS2600 engine which has a pedigree dating back to the early sixties, and the two-litre Ford Taunus. Two-hundred-and-forty-one kW (325 bhp) were extracted from the engine but it was not enough to combat the 3.5-litre BMWs which won the ETCC in 1973.
Duckworth chose the British Essex RS3100 engine block as the base for the new engine and with it he was able to stretch the capacity to 3.4 litres, an impossible task with the German unit. Cosworth's Mike Hall was able to expand the bore out to around 100 mm (four inches) with a stroke of 72.42 mm (three inches).
With four belt-driven overhead camshafts actuating four valves a cylinder, an 11:1 compression ratio and Lucas fuel injection working indirectly with butterflies. Cosworth has been able to achieve a power output of at least 310 kW (415 bhp) at 8500 rpm and maximum torque at 7000 rpm of 378 Nm (280ft/lb). The very best engine made has seen 316 kW (424 bhp) on Cosworth's dynamometer.
With such a great increase in power output the rest of the car's construction had to be carefully considered by Ammerschlaeger.
First in line for the upgrading was the ZF fivespeed gearbox, first used when the Capri program began and power output was only around the 190 kW (255 bhp) mark. Different transmissions were considered for 1974 but it was found in early testing with the new engine that the ZF was well up to the job at hand and so it has been retained, without trouble.
A triple-plate Borg and Beck racing clutch is employed inside a magnesium bellhousing, and the drive train is completed by a standard crown wheel and pinion. The rear axle cover is also cast in magnesium.
A special oil cooling system has been devised to keep the differential and gearbox working properly. Rather than provide a separate power supply, the pump which supplies oil to the cooler and through the system, is powered directly by a belt connected to the differential itself so that it is self-sufficient.
European Group Two regulations differ from the Australian sports sedan rules in many areas and one is in relation to bodywork which must be basically standard. The older cars were fitted with plastic doors, bootlid and bonnet, but the RS3100 has felt the pinch of new German standards and so the plastic panels have been replaced by steel, adding as much as 50 kg (110Ib) weight. Windows and screens, however, are unrestricted so here the Cologne-ials use Galverballightweight laminated glass all around.
A completely stripped racing shell was in the body department, revealing how much heavier the basic unit is compared with our ultra lightweight sports sedans, but it shouldn't be too difficult for Moffat to pare off many kilograms if necessary.
When the bodies are first built up in the pilot plant they are fitted with a full roll cage built in a very special way so that it incorporates an automatic fire extinguishing system.
Holes are drilled at strategic points throughout the cage and then all the extinguishing equipment is fitted where the back seat would normally be and connected directly into the cage. This avoids having great lengths of additional piping for a separate extinguishing system.
Heavyweight suspension plates like those fitted to the export Capris for rough-road countries such as Australia are also part of the shell's treatment and they carry the racing suspension.
Front suspension is fairly straightforward with Bilstein gas-filled shock absorbers mated up to coil springs functioning through adjustable track control arms, compression struts fitted with ball joints and an adjustable anti-roll bar. The live stub axles turn inside cast magnesium housings.
The Capri's rear suspension is famous for its curious way of beating the Group Two rules which state that the car must retain its standard suspension medium (leaf springs in the case of the Capri). Therefore the car has been fitted with a plastic leaf spring which would have no effect whatsoever while normal coil springfitted to the Bilstein shock absorbers once again provide the effective rear wheel control. The coils are officially termed as "additional springs" - just for the record, of course.
Four trailing arms control the beam axle, along with an adjustable transverse Watts linkage which allows the rear roll centre to be adjusted. A fully floating bearing system is also used with live stub axles, and cast magnesium housings are used once again for light weight combined with strength.
Big ventilated disc brakes are naturally fitted to each corner of the car. The front discs are over an inch thick and 305 mm (12 in.) in diameter and have channels cut into the disc surface to duct away dust and water. The channels are also found at the rear where the discs are a little less than 25.4 mm (one inch) thick and are of 266 mm (10% inches) diameter.
Mated to these huge discs are special lightweight ATE aluminium calipers which are hydro-electrically powerassisted. This system uses a high-pressure electrical pump to boost the reservoir up before it is valved into the hydraulic system.
The Capri's huge 406 mm (16 inch) diameter wheels are very light with magnesium centres and aluminium rim sections which will not break as easily as magnesium rims if they hit a kerbing or another car.
Rim widths are incredible on the German cars. Fronts measure up at 311 mm (12% inches) while the rears are some 400 mm (15% inches) wide - just 32 mm (1% inches) narrower than the latest Formula 5000 racing cars!
In keeping with the pure racing design of the car, the wheels are held onto the hub by a central hexagonal locking nut.
Dunlop was responsible for supplying tyres for these beasts and eventually had covers that produced such high cornering forces that the cars were more often than not on two wheels while cornering. This is where Allan Moffat might be in a bit of trouble. Australian regulations stipulate a maximum wheel width of only 254 mm (10 inches) for sports sedans. Moffat's connections at Goodyear in America, however, could produce a tyre with bulbous sides and a wide tread made from very soft compound for the short Australian races of only 30 kilometres or so. The European races range from two-four hours in most cases.
Unlike our sports sedans the rear of the car is very busy with the oil tank and a battery of radiators. The oil tank is normally run only about two-thirds full as it also acts as an air separator but the intriguing part of the system is the refiller. The tank itself is on the right hand side of the boot so, to save the mechanics the trouble of having to open the boot in a pit stop to check the oil, they have fitted a pipe which runs from the tank to a point just outside the body on the right side of the tail lights. From this the mechanics can check the level and also add oil through it if required.
The radiator set-up is new for the Capris as the water radiators have been placed just ahead of the rear wheels to take advantage of the aerodynamic downforce being provided by the new tail spoiler. Because the front air-dam stops air flow under the car air is ducted from the side,. and the hot air exits from the openings at the top of the rear guard.
Axle and gearbox coolers are found behind the right and left hand wheels respectively. All that leaves no room for the engine oil radiator, so it has been put at the front behind the grille. This was not completely satisfactory only because Ammerschlaeger wanted to seal off the nose for the extra straight-line speed.
Interior fittings of the car were purely functional although the standard trim, in matt black, is refitted. The instrument panel is a maze of dials and warning lights. It is a special VDO panel and there are 10 warning lights to indicate failures in various electrical items such as lights, gauges, instruments and brake lights. It was surprising to find that another maze of switches has been avoided by retaining the two steering column stalks and their fundamental purposes - lights, wipers, indicators and horn.
Cooling ducts appear from everywhere inside the cabin and they should be much appreciated by Moffat, a veritable fresh air freak. The beautifully formed driving seat is a wonderful combination of comfort and safety because it is fully covered with Nomex, the same fire-resistant material used on the majority of driving suits. Obviously the cost of producing such a startling machine in such a very expensive way would be enormous, and I was curious to know what Ford would sell one of them for. I was told by the Press relations man: "I would say 60,000 marks (about $A15,000). It depends on the relations which some drivers have to the works. Some drivers who are working together with us for years now are getting a discount. "
It doesn't take much imagination to guess why Allan was in Cologne last year before Bathurst and which category he would come under with his good relations over there.
Now he has the car and knows it's competitive. Certainly the Capri's performance figures are quite outstanding - 0-100 km/h in 4.2 seconds and 0-200 km/h in 13.1 seconds and that's enough to put Allan Moffat right back on top of sports sedan ranks in Australia. *