This V8-swapped 1973 Capri Was Built To Carve Corners

02/16/2022
10 min read

This V8-swapped 1973 Capri Was Built To Carve Corners

02/16/2022
10 min read

Jerry LaCoss of Wichita, Kansas says that while he’s always been fascinated by all things mechanical, his interest in sports cars really took shape after he returned home from military service. “I started watching a lot of rally racing and Formula 1,” he recalls. “And that sort of spread out into a larger interest in automotive performance. I fell in love with sports cars, but I was also married and we’d just had a child, so I wanted something that would be big enough for a family.”


After reading a Road and Track review of the 1972 Capri V6 – a car which was produced by Ford of Europe in Cologne, Germany and imported into the U.S. – LaCoss knew he’d found what he was searching for. “That really fit the bill for me, so I ended up ordering one from my local dealer. I spec’d out a red one with a vinyl top and a sunroof, but the dealer told me it would be about three months to get it – maybe more. A few weeks later, he called me and said that he had a brown one with no sunroof had just hit the dock, and it wasn’t spoken for. I asked him how fast he could get it here. So that was my start with Capris.”

While LaCoss’ interest in sports cars led to stints in two-seaters like the Honda S2000, Mazda MX-5, and Toyota MR-2 over the ensuing years, Ford Capris of one sort or another have been a part of his stable ever since. “While I had that first ’72 Capri, I learned a lot about those cars and just enjoyed the heck out of it,” he tells us. “One day I was at the bank and they happened to have a repossessed ’73 Capri there for a couple hundred bucks, so I bought it. Not too long after that I found another one sitting on a used car lot that was only $200, so I bought that one as well. Then one day my children’s church pastor called me to say that he’d found a ’74 Capri at an auto auction and that no one would even bid on it. He asked if I wanted it. Suddenly I had four Capris, and I started to realize that maybe that was too many.”


LaCoss begrudgingly culled the herd. After some deliberation, he ended up keeping the ’74 and pulling whatever usable parts he could find from the other three cars before scrapping them. He continued to drive the ’74 Capri for a number of years while other vehicles rotated into and out of his garage. “And that brings us up to 2013,” he says. “At that point I was getting ready to retire, and I started looking for a new project that I could build from the ground up. And as it turned out, a good friend in Columbus, Ohio had an ex-drag race Capri for sale. It was just a roller at that point, but it had no rust and a perfectly good body.”


LaCoss brought the car home and started designing his plan of attack. “I’d done months of research on parts ahead of time, and who I wanted to work with on the project,” he says. “I had a fabricator and a body shop lined up for the build, and after I did some prep work, we got started.”

The project was completed in late 2015, and it’s a very different machine than the Capris that had graced LaCoss’s garage previously. Under the hood is a fuel injected, 302-cube V8 crate motor that sends 375 horsepower to the rear wheels through a T-5 five-speed manual gearbox with a McLeod clutch and a B&M short-throw shifter. Air suspension from Ridetech, along with electrically assisted brakes and steering deliver a modernized driving experience, while custom upholstery, Corbeau sport seats, a Kenwood infotainment system, and an AC system from Vintage Air provide the requisite creature comforts.


“The body kit actually comes from Ford Racing,” LaCoss points out. “From 1970 to 1973, Ford had a factory racing effort with the Capri over in Europe. So the fenders, hood, air dam, rear deck and spoiler are all fiberglass Ford parts.” Completing the road race aesthetic is a set of custom 17-inch three-piece “knock off” wheels from Forgeline wrapped in Yokohama high performance rubber.


We caught up with LaCoss at this year’s Ford Fest, where the Capri ended up taking home two awards and turning plenty of heads along the way. While the coupe has certainly been restored to show-quality state, LaCoss notes that he built this car to be driven. “It’s got an 18 gallon tank and a 3.23 gear in the rear end, and that makes this a great cruiser. I’ve taken it on a bunch of road trips and we’ve done Power Tour with it. I’ve put about 25,000 miles on it since it was finished. There’s some small chips in the paint and things like that – the things that come with regular usage. That doesn’t bother me. I just consider those badges of honor.”


As for that ’74 Capri he had back in the day? He’s still got it, and he still drives that one, too. “I’ve got some plans for that one as well,” he says. “It’s got a Mustang V6 with a five-speed in it currently, but I’d like to swap that out for a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 and a ten-speed automatic. And that one will be set up for cruising as well. Cars are meant to be used – if all you’re going to do is put it in your garage, you’ve basically just got a piece of wall art on wheels.”

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