Richard David Nener
During 1981 John Miles was writing for Autocar. At that time he purchased a 3.0-litre Capri from Ford’s press department and used this car as a test vehicle for over 25,000 miles. He installed a very modified 3.2-litre engine, and most importantly modified and tweaked the suspension. Miles was, and continues today, to be one of the most knowledgeable people with regards to the handling of the Ford Capri.
John Miles saw the Capri as a vehicle which, with minor changes, would continue to live on for decades. He, more than anyone, was instrumental in pressuring Ford into agreeing to assist in the manufacture of the Tickford Turbo Capri.
Miles, due to his involvement in modifying the Capri’s suspension, was (and proved to be correct) aware that different or alternative suspension settings could be improved even further with a change of tyres. Contact was made with Tom Northey (Pirelli), who at this time was trying to attract publicity for the P7 tyre. Discussions with Northey eventually led to contact and various letters being exchanged with Victor Gauntlett (Owner of Aston Martin) and Ford. A quote by John Miles on 25 September 1981, in a letter to John Waddell Vice President P Affers Ford, include ‘Considerable aerodynamic and suspension modifications are envisaged, so that the care may no longer be too easily recognisable as a Ford’.
More meetings with John Wadell, Victor Gauntlett, Tom Northey and Bob Lutz followed and in principal an agreement was reached. It was proposed that Tickford would put up half of the required amount required for development of a prototype for assessment, some £25,000-30,000, plus the price of a Capri 2.8i! The other half to be undertaken by a department of Ford.
Rumour control has it that after Ford’s withdrawal from the project, which forced Tickford to ‘go it alone’, and the sad demise of the 2.8T, Victor Gauntlett wrote a personal cheque for £3000 to John Miles. What commenced as an extremely exciting project, sadly ended on a sour note for many people involved, more so for John Miles than most.
The fact that the Tickford Turbo Capri ever reached the production stage was thanks to the commitment, enthusiasm and dogged persistence of a few people involved directly. A year after the meeting (lunch) between Victor Gauntlett of AML, Bob Lutz (Ford of Europe) and John Miles, the running prototype appeared at the 1982 NEC Motor Show.
The car received enthusiastic and exciting revues and attracted much favourable attention. The car which would cost around £14,000 was capable of 140mph and had lapped the Millbrook Test Track in Bedfordshire at more than this speed. The car had 205bhp, and it took an Aston Martin Vantage to beat it from rest to 100mph. The Tickford Capri also came with a rear disc conversion, and was dressed with an extrovert body kit – and the option that one could order a tailor make the car, with or without the body addenda.
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