Fast friends: Dave Little’s Ford Capri 2.0S replica

There aren’t many cars that get people talking quite as much as Ford’s Capri. It seems that nearly every car-minded person above the age of 30 or so in the UK has something to say about these cars.

This particular example belongs to Dave Little, and both D310NYD and Dave have been on quite a journey already. Advertised locally in the Bristol area, D310NYD was purchased for £1,800 in 2011. Back then the car was a rather tired but very original 1987 Capri 1.6 Laser with a good service history and MOTs dating back to the early 90s.

 

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It wasn’t long before Dave’s Capri started to be difficult, in fact, the Capri didn’t even make it home from its maiden journey. Overheating and not keen on revving over 3,000rpm, a mechanically inexperienced Dave got the first glimpse of an engine bay he’d soon learn to know inside out.

The crash course in motor mechanics started with Dave fitting a Sportex straight through exhaust system, something that was thrown in with the car’s sale. Not long into Capri ownership and Dave was searching for more power, he thought D310NYD deserved more than the 72hp it’d left the factory with.

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It just so happened that a 2 litre engine came up for sale in Oxford. Sourced from an ’85 Capri 2.0S, the particularly helpful seller even allowed Dave to try the engine for himself in his own car. After being suitably impressed, the deal was done and the car was soon more powerful than ever before.

By chance, the seller had another 2.0S Capri that he was converting to a 3.0S and so a clean 2.0S interior with no rips or tears was also present. Dave snapped it up, and despite not realising it yet; this was the start of what would be the conversion from 1.6 Laser to 2.0S replica.

 

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After a happy two months with the 2 litre lump, things took a nasty turn as D310NYD’s cambelt snapped in a brief yet catastrophic collaboration of pistons and valves.. or so Dave thought.. Actually, he hadn’t realised that his engine was non-interference type and wrongly assumed damage had taken place.

Following this, Dave got a craving for something more modern and decided to source a fuel injected 2 litre Pinto engine from a Sierra, along with its wiring loom, efi manifold and other ancillaries. No matter what he tried, Dave couldn’t get a spark from the engine’s ignition and, after months of frustrated troubleshooting, discovered his particular engine loom was from an end of the line Sapphire. One correct Hall effect module fitted and the car fired up first time!

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Still, the Capri kept up its difficult reputation and things never really worked out with the Sierra engine. Dave pressed on with the rest of the car and within a short period had overhauled all of the suspension, and brakes. A noisy rear axle was also replaced with a taller 2.0GL unit from a low-mileage car in a local scrapyard.

You probably don’t need me to tell you quite how badly these cars can rust out and Dave’s example was no exception. Bubbled paint had turned to rot and something needed to be done sooner rather than later. After getting some truly eye watering quotes, Dave finally found a local bodyshop that took on a complete overhaul of the Capri’s scabby shell. The rear floor pan of the car was found to be in unusually good shape – it turns out that oil from that leaking rear axle had covered the underside sufficiently to preserve the metal underneath it.

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Several weeks later and the Capri was full of new metal wherever it was deemed necessary, and its faded paint was replaced with a coat of gleaming Rosso Red.

During this time, Dave discovered that his 2.0S engine had not expired as previously thought; he was so pleased that he sent it for a total rebuild including an unleaded conversion – something he’d banked on having to do anyway. Before long the car was once again back up and running.. but not well. Rough running pointed to an iffy rebuild (still a sore subject), and shortly afterwards a blown head gasket was confirmed.

At the end of his tether, Dave reached out to a local Ford expert, who sourced him a running Pinto and assisted him with getting the car running as it should be.

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So here we are, five years and no less than four engines on, the Capri is now running well. An increasing obsession with BMWs means the Capri has seen little use recently, so much so that prior to writing this article Dave’s intentions were to sell the Capri. Having seen the result of the photoshoot he’s since changed his mind..

Considering the headaches this Capri has brought its owner, I’m sure you’ll agree his persistence has paid off and the car itself is a credit to his efforts.