The Story of Build 002

Part 6 - Winding Back the Clock

 

NO.........not the odometer!

Sometimes I get very nostalgic about the 1980s and 90s, when I was a young man. 

In the same way that the Apollo Moon-landings would be impossible today - Health and Safety regulations wouldn't let anyone within a hundred miles of a fuelled Saturn V rocket for starters - the Tickford Capri belongs to an era that has long since passed.

The thought of huge companies like Aston Martin and Ford supporting John Miles' vision and then a handful of engineers having a thoroughly good time developing the prototype seems incredulous nowadays.

Can you imagine it in today's customer-focussed business world - it would take at least twelve months for a team of consultants to draft up an initial statement of intent between the key stakeholders that would probably cost more in fees than the entire Capri project back in 1982.

All the engineers would have to attend "corporate awareness" workshops so that they would be able to complete a directed cost-benefits analysis every time they touched the development car to tweak something.  Naturally they would all be on performance-related pay with preference given to their contribution towards achievement of the business vision rather than ability to actually design a car!  Anyway, they wouldn't be called engineers anymore, rather end-user expectations managers.

No doubt every outing in the prototype would need a risk assessment and an allowance made for the virtual depreciation on the vehicle as a result of the journey, applied to the relevant engineering development cost centre.  In contrast, I recall a story told by Chris Bale who was the Lead Engineer - about using FMJ624Y to pop between Blakelands and Bedworth and one morning, not realising that it didn't have any brakes!

 

  Original artwork by Tone Townsend

Please contact me if you would like Tone to draw a personal cartoon caricature of your own car

  WHOOPS !  
     

 

And of course, when the whole project failed, then another team of consultants would be paid a fortune to work out what had gone wrong!

 

Do you get the feeling I am a bit cynical about modern business practices?  Nah!

 

   

 

Rant over...............at least the Bedworth factory and home of the Tickford Capri is still there...............

 

   
     
  Well not quite.......Hosiery Street is now a housing estate !  

 

Anyway...............continuing the story..............

This time round, my ambition was to get 002 back to his original condition as far as possible -  I felt it was important due to his unique history and place in the whole Tickford Capri story.

Out came the Zemco cruise control / trip computer and all the Kenwood ICE system.

I managed to obtain a brand new set of Goodyear NCT tyres for the original black pepperpot wheels and sold the 5-spoke wheels through eBay.  I subsequently came across a further set of standard silver pepperpots in mint condition with new Japanese tyres, so those are actually on the car for regular use and the original black ones are kept just for future shows.

When I owned 002 before, the original Lucas boost gauge had failed and I fitted an equivalent Janspeed gauge.  Problem was that I now needed to repair the original one, but it had been binned long ago.  The Chairman of the Tickford Owners Club, Shaun Skinner, very kindly let me have an original faulty one that he had in his possession and I sent it off to Speedy Cables in Swansea for repair (they had previously built the 180mph speedometer for me).  They reported back that the gauge was beyond repair and did a beautiful job making a replica that looks virtually identical.

 

   
     
  Original gauge on the left,  new gauge on the right  

 

The grey leather interior was starting to show its age.  In particular, the side of the driver's seat was quite badly worn and a split was beginning to appear.

 

   
All the interior was intact, albeit quite dry and hard But the driver's seat needed immediate attention
   

 

Question was what to do about it?  By chance, in 2009 I came across a company called Protrim in Milton Keynes and I contacted one of the bosses, a very helpful chap called Dave Cox.  Now Protrim (as of 2012, known as Prototrim) normally only do interiors for private jets and one-off motorshow cars, but a couple of their trimmers used to work for Aston Martin and one of them remembered working on 002's interior back in 1983!  To cut a long story short, they informed me that they would love to have the opportunity to work on the car and I subsequently drove 002 over to Milton Keynes for a few weeks stay in their trim shop.

At the same time, I could see a golden opportunity to correct the two options that had been missed off the list when Martin Wild originally commissioned the car back in 1983 - Wilton carpet and a wool headlining.

 

   
The freshly trimmed and re-padded front seat bottoms And immaculate stitching on the front seat backs
   
   
   
     
  The new rear seats and grey Wilton carpet with the edges  
  finished in grey leather piping  
     
     
   
     
  Even the boot and battery box received the Wilton treatment,  
  plus we took the opportunity to remove the box on the opposite  
  side that used to house the original owner's mobile phone  

 

The black wool headlining looked similarly stunning and a huge improvement on the standard Ford sheet of perforated plastic!

 

   
     
  The original headlining  
     
     
   
     
  The new headlining  

 

I won't disclose the amount of the bill, but with some things in life, you only get what you pay for.  Anyway, I looked on the new seats as an investment and money well-spent.  There was just one problem - Protrim had gone to a lot of trouble to obtain an exact colour match with the original leather that still adorned the rest of the interior, but in daylight, due to the old leather having a different surface texture, there appeared to be a colour difference on some parts.

 

   
     
  The seats look beautiful and match the original leather on the centre console perfectly,  
  but note how different the steering wheel looks!  

 

To their credit, Protrim were extremely concerned about this and they felt that the only way for the interior to be 100% perfect would be to re-trim everything.  I took them up on their kind offer and at the end of 2009 delivered all the remaining trim to Milton Keynes - the dashboard surround, steering wheel, centre console, door cards and even all the fiddly twiddly little bits.  I kept the leather map pocket on the front of the glovebox as I wanted one part of the original leather to remain in the vehicle.

True to form, Protrim sorted everything beautifully and all the trim is now safely back home awaiting re-fitting as at the end of 2011.

Curiously, while removing the original trim, a factory record card suddenly appeared out of nowhere!  It is written in German and must date back to when 002 was being built as a 2.8i Capri, long before Tickford ever got hold of him.  Are there any Ford experts out there that can tell me what it all means please?

 

   
     
  Can't believe this has been hidden in the car for over 30 years!  

 

Although the home-made fibreglass backs on the Vitaloni electric mirrors are still intact, the motors themselves have died of old age.  The "Tornado Electric" model has not been made for years, but I managed to locate a shop in Germany that had a brand new pair - you've never seen a credit card move so fast!

002 is currently suffering from the classic AFT ignition problem - no spark whatsoever.  The 12V feed to the AFT ignition box is supplied via a small accessory fuse box that Tickford fixed to the bulkhead - the fuse box is notorious for corroding where the old-style Bosch torpedo-type fuses clip-in (dissimilar metals).  So it may be a simple case of too much resistance limiting the current available to power the ignition box.  Brian Hollins has supplied me with a genuine new replacement and that will be the first thing to check.  If it doesn't work, the coil will be the next item under scrutiny, as the Tickford Capri is very touchy about coil output.

 

   
     
  Tricky little devil!  

 

So what are my long term plans for 002?  He most certainly is never going to be sold again for any amount of money and I have actually willed him to Haynes Motor Museum to guarantee he is ok long after I've gone to the scrapheap. 

The mileage currently stands at 72,000 and that is without the engine or turbo having ever been touched.  As far as I am aware, no other Tickford Capris have made it that far without some sort of re-build, so we are definitely running on borrowed time now.  Then there is the fuel issue - Tickford Capris come from an era where lead was in abundance and octane ratings almost reached triple figures.

My current thoughts are to commission Ric Wood Motorsport in Stockport for a complete engine re-build, retaining the original block number.  They can fit all manner of goodies like forged pistons, alloy timing gears and un-leaded heads.  I really want to retain the original AFT ignition even though the system is prone to trouble.

Tracy Brown (Build 001) has given me a tip that Fostek Engineering in Cramlington are able to do any repair work necessary on the Atlas rear axle.  The halfshafts on some of the Tickfords were machined badly and they are prone to snapping - 002 has already gone through one pair, so this might be a useful future contact.

 

 

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