Hello, my name is David Kelsey. I’m the former Chairman of King’s Lynn Capri Club (KLCC) having been involved with the club almost from day one.
I have also been a member of Capri Club International (CCI) for many years and have always owned Capris, as well other Classics, finding them a welcome distraction from my job as a School Teacher. I’ve had a fascination for this particular species of Ford since the mid-1970s. My Capri history goes back to 1974, when my dad bought his first Capri, a 1974 1.6 L, finished in an attractive colour of Daytona Yellow.
I vividly remember going on many holidays in the Capri, especially to Great Yarmouth and Torquay, squashed in the back of the car with my sister and both my grandparents (no safety belts then) sitting on the rear bench seat on typically hot days. Yes, this was the L model so we had the poverty spec, non-split option. How the vinyl seats would burn my little legs as I sat on them in my best little shorts! I also remember being sat on the transmission tunnel and peering out of the windscreen over the expanse of the wonderful power hump – UUA 236M may have only been a 1.6 L, but to me I was riding in the yellow Mustang Mach 1, from the original film ‘Gone in 60 seconds’. This MK2 of dad’s made a big impression on me, being in the family for four years (the longest he kept any of the cars he owned, I must add).
He then traded it in for an orange Chrysler Alpine. I felt really cool in the Capri but the Alpine didn’t have anywhere near the same kudos. I yearned for my dad to buy a good replacement, and when he changed cars again, he ignored my requirement of a 3.0l Ghia and bought a MK2 1.6 L Vauxhall Cavalier. I was mortified.
As the years passed my yearning for a Capri never waned and having secured my first teaching Job after leaving university I went out and bought my first Capri, a 1970 1.6 GTL, registration URU 128J from Affordable Classics. I wonder where it is now. This was when I first joined the KLCC and began to attend some classic car shows locally, here in Norfolk.
My Mk1 was a lovely runner and quite rare even then as it was finished in an attractive Sapphire Blue and was a rather rare trim version being a GTL; basically a GT with the L package added. After two years of running the MK1 I yearned for a bigger engine and having received a pay rise, I rewarded myself by going out and purchasing my first 2.8i.
This was again bought from Affordable Classics and was a lot of money at £3,500 in the mid-nineties. I part exchanged my GTL to get behind the wheel of my first hairy chested Capri – the special edition Capri 280 otherwise known as the Brooklands. I remember when I first drove it and couldn’t believe the amount of power compared to my 1600 whilst enjoying the lovely smell of Connelly hide. The car was an absolute stunner. It sounded very aggressive with its Janspeed exhausts and I got into lots of trouble on a daily basis. I used to park my Brookie at the front of the school adjacent to the secretary’s office window and when leaving to go home at night I’d rev the car up, causing her windows to shake and make her jump! She obviously didn’t appreciate the character of the car. I had to sort out several jobs on it, mainly involving the wiring loom as a former owner had fitted a base box and upmarket stereo in the car and ham-fistedly hacked into the wiring loom.
After a while I yearned again for a MK1 and was about to fall in love with a catwalk model!
I first saw the next love of my life in the classic car adds which was advertised for sale near Bedford, at the local barracks there, wondering if it would be a good investment. I went to see the MK1 RS3100, registration YBJ 554N, finished in Stardust silver. I was completely won over and sold the Brookie within a week to a friend in the club for the same amount I bought it for and then bought the RS3100 for £4500 in 1998. At the time I thought this was an exorbitant sum of money to shell out on a car but also thought it would make a good daily runner and show car. If only I had known, I would have locked it away and cherished it. While I owned the RS I decided to ease up using it all the time, as more Capri’s came my way.
I bought several everyday Capri’s at this time in quick succession. An early eighties MK3 2.0 GL in white was followed by a cheap Lacquer Red 1.6 Laser, bought for a song with a failed head gasket. This particular Laser served me well as an everyday car before I sold it to a member of the KLCC for four times the amount that I bought it for.
However, due to a change in circumstances and the breaking of the rear axle during a track day at Silverstone, I decided to impress my then girlfriend and sold the RS for £3250. I then acquired a Java Green Triumph Stag to have fun with a convertible. In retrospect this was a major miscalculation. I wish I’d hung onto the RS as it would have made more money than a Jag E type I later restored. I didn’t always buy cars to make money; it was to feed my enthusiasm or sometimes impress a girl – I wish I never met that particular girl as I would probably still own my RS!
After getting married and having children, I found myself rather heavily into Jag’s – please forgive me!
The itch for a Capri had not gone away and I found myself doing a dangerous thing one night – consuming alcohol and subsequently bidding on a rather interesting MK2 2.0 Ghia Auto, registration LGT 353N, finished in a rather attractive solar gold. I ended up winning the car and having realised the next day what I had done, had to break the news to the wife. Thankfully the purchase turned out to be a good decision.
I travelled to Doncaster to pick it up. Whilst the car needed a little cosmetic attention, it had apparently only done 27’000 miles from new. Unfortunately the owner had lost some of the service history but the interior was mint and reflected the mileage – those Ghia seats, complete with Rialto material, sag like mad with increased mileage as we all know. These were like new and totally unmarked. It was a very early MK2 and deserved a new life. It was pressed into everyday service and was kept for a year until I was forced to sell because my E type needed an engine rebuild. If there was ever a car I regret selling it was this one. I liked the colour and the interior was lovely. If the guys who came to pick it up from me still have it (members from Yeovil Capri Club in mid-2008 from memory) and want to sell it back please let me know! I sold it for around £1,000.
Next on the list was a lovely 2.8i Special, bought from a friend for £2,500. This car only needed a little tidying and tweaking. The car responded really well to a repaint and treatment of the leather upholstery. I have to highly recommend the kit CCI sells for re-colouring the leather on both the 2.8i specials and Bookies – it’s brilliant. Having restored the leather on the Special I then purchased an original radio; shock horror – the price of these SRT Radios is ridiculous. The application of a new set of decals finished the exterior off and it looked resplendent in its Paris blue paintwork. I also replaced the dashboard, not difficult task in itself, but like other particular hard to source parts the price for good ones is becoming increasingly inflated.
Looking back its incredible to see just how much the price of Capri’s have increased, especially models like the RS3100, when compared to other classics of the time like the Jaguar E type series 2 2+2. I have owned both models and ten years ago the Jag was worth much more but things have totally changed. The RS as we all know has shot up, way over comparable series 2 2+2 E types, and even the more mundane four pot models such as the Laser have crept up in value as well. I recently had a conversation with one of the Capri specialists who advised that a Laser only fit for breaking is now commanding in excess of £800! Where will it end? Another thing that has amazed me over the years is the price of the digital radios that were fitted as an option to early Lasers and as standard on the 2.8i specials. Ten years ago £50-£100 would get one in good useable condition but in January 2015 I saw one go on a certain auction website for £360! I should know as my mate bought it…
The flame of desire I felt when I bought my first MK1 pre-facelift Capri was re-kindled when I spotted my next acquisition. It was on a popular auction website advertised at a fixed price of £10,000. Even though the asking price was much over inflated, the registration and the miles immediately attracted me to the car. It was a 1970 2.0 v4 GTXLR, finished in gold, with optional vinyl roof and satin black bonnet, registration HOO 77H. I made a phone call to the owner to organise a viewing of the car before the end of the auction. He said he realised that £10,000 was too much but was just testing the market! With the end of the auction looming and the car duly investigated, it was judged to be a very rare and interesting motor. With a set price in my head I placed a bid on the car and I turned out to be the winner again – at least I wasn’t drinking this time!
HOO77H is a very rare V4 and whilst showing just 22,000 miles backed up by the service history it was in need of a cosmetic restoration to bring it back into mint condition. Unfortunately, in 1973 a former owner conducted the mutilation of the wheel arches to accommodate some SuperSlot Alloys. Whilst the wheels are very 1970’s, my intention is to return the car to factory standard. The car was run for a few months until I decided to take the car off the road for a proper restoration. I’m sure many of you will have been in my shoes before and identify with Pandora’s Box – the point when you start to strip a car and discover more rot than was first expected. In the end Hoo was completely stripped and sand blasted showing the true extent of the remedial work required, including renovation to the bottom of the sills and the front floor plan by the accelerator.
Overall the shell is in good condition with solid inner sills, floors, scuttle and both valances. Interestingly, I noticed that the interior floor pan and bulkheads of the car are not sprayed in body colour whereas my mates MK1 on a K registration is coloured in top coat, suggesting a change in manufacturing process. Currently the replacement body panels are being welded into place and the remedial work to the wheel arches is being completed. The v4 has been returned from the engine shop in Peterborough having replaced the shells and the piston rings. The condition of the engine reflected the cars mileage although I have found out I need to replace the ring gear on the fly wheel as it’s a little mangled, so a replacement is on the list. Question for you – is the ring gear on a 2.0 v4 the same as the one on the 3.0 v6, as ring gears for the v6 are much easier to come by! Answers on a postcard…… Hoo’s transformation process continues and progress can be followed on the Projects page of this website.
Given Hoo’s absence I needed to fill the gap and subsequently bought another little project in the form of a Paris blue 2.0 Laser from a club member. Another brilliant little car with a power steering conversion, low miles and a straight body with original wings, I ran this for a few months until I sold it to another club member who wanted it more than me as his own daily runner. Good for you Graham – look after the old girl.
So this is where I am at the moment (January 2015). I have recently purchased my latest car as a joint project for my son Freddie and I, a very late 2.0l Laser finished in Crystal Blue. Registered in March 1986, it is one of the last to be registered and built. Whilst generally solid it needs a lot of love, and will keep me happy until the MK1 resurfaces, from its restoration. Because the cars are so beautifully straight forward, the faults and foibles should be easy to circumnavigate. It needs a replacement Laser interior as it currently sports shabby 2.8 special trim. Work is also needed on the rear arches and front spoiler and the electrical wiring requires sorting. It seems that our little car is now getting the attention that it deserves although restoring a Capri of this vintage is not as cheap as it was just two or three years ago with the price of parts and Ford body panels ever increasing. Even pattern front wings for MK3’s are expensive, and don’t even mention the front panel!
I can reflect on the wide selection of cars I have owned in the past with much fondness. Having been a member of a variety of other car clubs, those connected to the Capri are the ones which seem to have the most fun, with members having their feet firmly on the ground. I feel very proud to be a part of the club and have seen attitudes change towards the Capri, or Crappie as it has been referred to over the years. I see the Capri heading the same way the Mk1 Escort has gone with increasing values as demand continues, and a loyal band of fans dedicated to keeping the car alive for future generations to admire and enjoy.
One parting question; will Ford ever get around to building a worthy replacement?