What is a Tickford Capri?



"Some years ago I owned a Tickford Capri Turbo with which I formed a love/hate relationship.
 It was a real eyeful, went like a rat up a drainpipe and was the most unreliable thing imaginable."


Not a quote from me, but the beginning of an article that appeared in Autocar & Motor June 1990
where John Coates was discussing the motor trade.
  Having been a Capri enthusiast since childhood and involved with the Tickford Capri

since its creation, I sort-of appreciate what he means.

My own car has cost me a fortune since I first bought him back in 1989, but the sheer pleasure
of driving a Tickford Capri is priceless.
Do some research and look up how many cars, even modern ones, can accelerate
from 50 - 70mph in 3.8 seconds and 50 - 80mph in 4.4 seconds!




Mock-up engine displayed on the company stand at the 1982 Motorshow,
but sadly nobody knows its whereabouts now.


At the heart of the Tickford Capri was a standard 2.8i Cologne V6 engine
and its Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, but with the addition
of an IHI RHB6 turbo and Garrett AiResearch intercooler.
Photo courtesy of Rob Jamieson (Build 025)
Tickford chose to mount the turbo at the front in the centre to balance the
exhaust gasses from either side of the engine and

minimise heating of the charged air.

Tickford's primary objective was to improve low speed torque.  Most turbo
conversions at the time used a Garrett turbo, but Tickford selected the
IHI unit because it was physically smaller and so would spin-up

quickly to generate early boost.

What is often not appreciated, is the fact that by mounting the turbo so far forward,
 the resultant long primary manifold pipes provided a pulse-tuned breathing
 improvement at lower speeds when the turbo was not at its most efficient.
An excellent explanation of tuning using long manifold pipes has been provided
by www.enginebasics.com and is copied below:
Thanks to Russell Arundell (Build 100) for finding this article
Some "turbo lag" between opening the throttle and the turbo winding up to
speed is inevitable, so to ensure that the engine worked well in those
few seconds of "normally aspirated" operation, Tickford retained
the standard compression ratio of 9.2:1 where most other
turbocharged cars ran a lower compression ratio.

     Employing the over-size Garrett intercooler to keep the air cold and dense also helped.

Running a compression ratio of 9.2:1 with even modest boost of 7.5psi would
be a recipe for detonation disaster, so Tickford employed a bespoke ignition
advance / retard system based on the ECU from an RS1600i Escort,
modified by the manufacturer, AFT in Germany.
The ECU was driven by a magnetic sensor on the flywheel and in turn, controlled a
second ECU that opened a 7th fuel injector at maximum boost above 3500rpm.
 Simple by modern standards, but very effective - under test, the injector
would fill a milk bottle in nano-seconds!


The 7th injector - straight into the boosted airflow which helped
to provide an even distribution of fuel in the plenum chamber.


Curiously, installation of the large bore Stainless Steel exhaust option
on production cars required a change of spark plugs!


Excerpt from the Supplementary Workshop Manual


The Tickford conversion wasn't just a simple matter of bolting on a turbo and
some plumbing - the entire front of the car had to be redesigned
along with the layout of the engine bay.
To make all this possible, the complete engine had to be removed from the vehicle.


An uprated 6-row radiator with an electric cooling fan, intercooler and
16-row oil cooler all had to be squeezed under the front valance.
The bottom radiator hose was a larger diameter than standard, so Tickford had to
 modify the thermostat housing and this also improved the water flow.
The "Otter" thermostatic switch that controlled the cooling fan screwed into
the housing so it was triggered by the water temperature after cooling.
Tickford also specified a lower-than-standard 82 degree thermostat.



There is so much more to the front of a Tickford than meets the eye!
The blank front grille and slot in the lower spoiler force air to go where it is needed.
What is not so obvious is that Tickford spent 6 hours of labour per car
subtly changing the profile of the bonnet so it looked right with their blank grille!
This non-Tickford Capri has a standard bonnet profile with the rubber trim
across the front and the after-market Tickford-style blank grille has
a big notch to allow space for it.


To make room for the Garrett intercooler and the enormous charge air pipe coming
out of it, the Bosch fuel injection meter had to be moved
to the opposite side of the engine bay.
This entailed removal of the battery tray and the moving of the battery
itself to the boot which improved weight distribution.
The air filter lived inside the front wing and was force-fed cool air via the slot in the front spoiler.


It is quite hard to find a photo of the air filter as you have to take the wing off first!
The air box is actually an Austin Rover part Later used on the Rover 820 and other models
New battery cable running all the way from the boot to the engine bay


The IHI turbo conveniently sat where the standard Capri radiator used to be.


The engine bay of a standard 160bhp 2.8i Ford Capri The Tickford engine bay - Spot the Differences!


Further, detailed view of the Tickford engine bay - this is Build 012


The result was an engine that produced 205bhp at 5000rpm and a whopping
260 ft lb of torque above 3500rpm!
At only 2000rpm, the torque was double that of a standard 2.8i Capri!
 Believe me - it doesn't push you into the back of the seat, it pushes
you through the back of the seat! 
Many early reviews of the Tickford Capri complained about its turbo lag, which
certainly was very noticeable, but Tickford designed it that way for a reason.
The car is extremely docile and economic if you drive it the way the DVSA would like.
 When you want to overtake, drop it down a couple of gears and by the time you have
considered Mirror / Signal / Manoeuvre, the revs have reached 3500rpm
and then everything happens very very quickly!
 Before you are even level with the car you are overtaking, you'll be shifting
onto the brakes ready to move back in again.
Tickford gave a great explanation of turbo lag in the supplemental workshop manual
that was provided for all owners along with the standard Ford handbook:


To me, this is more proof that Tickford always intended there to be a significant lag so
that the car would be easy to drive at low speeds without the turbo cutting-in
too quickly and frightening the driver!


Another common complaint was the Tickford Capri's tendency to
overheat at the drop of a hat.
This issue dogged Tickford well into production and continues to
be an issue for present owners thirty years later!
A388WBD was used as a demonstrator car during 1984 and it was featured
in several magazine road tests that year.
Thanks to Steve Gort from the Facebook Tickford Capri Group,
there is now a bit more information about the car:
"My dad, Peter Gort was the Applications Manager for Otter Controls Ltd. in
Buxton.  He had one of the development Capris on test back in the early
1980s to specify the best electric fan thermostat. The car was driven
around in and out of traffic whilst rigged up to thermocouples and
gauges on my knee in the passenger seat. 2 weeks of great fun."


Build 016 on Peter Gort's driveway
Curiously, the car had an "AA" badge on the front, which would normally imply that it was
in private ownership at the time, rather than a factory demonstrator.
In magazine articles up to October 1984 there was no "AA" badge in the photos,
but in a December 1984 magazine it was photographed with one.
My conclusion is that Peter Gort could not have had the car until around November
1984 or maybe sometime in early 1985 for his tests.....and Tickford thought
 they had better get it some "AA" cover because the car
probably kept breaking down!
It also shows that although production had already started a year before, Tickford
were concerned about their cars overheating and were actively trying to sort it!




To get all that horsepower onto the road successfully, Tickford had to modify the regular
5-speed gearbox to improve lubrication between input shaft and main shaft.
Ford later incorporated those improvements into its stock gearboxes for the 2.8i Capri.
The clutch remained standard, but some owners have since upgraded to a Cosworth
clutch which is very straightforward to fit and much tougher.
The Atlas rear axle in the early 2.8i Capris did not have a limited slip differential,
so Tickford contracted-out the building of their own to a company
called Dave Cook Racing Services.
Dave Cook had successfully developed several racing Capris,
including this Gordon Spice Racing Capri.
Photo courtesy of Geoff Cochrane (Build 097)
They used a ZF differential with 40% locking.
The ZF differential on Build 002
The later Capri 2.8i Specials had a 25% limited slip diff as standard, so the bespoke Tickford
diff was not needed on the later cars they built....but.....the early version was a better spec.
Please click on the thumbnails below to watch an explanation of how a normal

differential works and then a Limited Slip Differential:

Dave Cooks' work did not end with the LSD.  A finned alloy back plate
was fitted on the axle casing to keep temperatures down.
 This was very successful and reduced temperatures by up to 10 degrees centigrade.
The finned back plate from Build 002
Stopping power was provided by standard 2.8i Capri ventilated discs with Don 600 pads
on the front and an upgrade to 10.43 inch diameter solid rear discs.
The stock Capri at the time was unbelievably still using drums on the rear!
The Tickford rear brake calipers were based on Peugeot 504 components.
Their final job was converting the half-shafts from a semi-floating to fully-floating
configuration as commonly found on racing cars and big lorries.


The standard semi-floating Atlas axle
The half-shaft (18) runs through a bearing (17) and the road wheels
are bolted directly to it - the half-shaft is therefore bearing the
full weight of the vehicle.


Further drawing of a semi-floating half-shaft The fully-floating design
The half-shaft will bend under the weight of the vehicle The road wheels rotate on bearings around the axle casing
and the forces are hinging on one point - the bearing. and the half-shaft is attached to the wheel hub - it now only
  has to deal with the torsional loads from the transmission.


A finished rear axle awaiting installation


The first handful of Tickford Capris were actually built by Aston Martin themselves
as the Bedworth Tickford factory had yet to be created.
There appears to have been a safety issue with the wheel studs and in April 1984
Aston Martin issued a recall notice:
Recall letter sent to the supplying dealer of Build 004




Rear suspension was tweaked with Polymer spacing washers fitted
either side of the forward bushes.
 This eliminated any play between the bushes and box section of the chassis where
they were attached.
Additional locating arms braced the axle to the leaf springs - this stopped
the axle from moving sideways.
A neat trick was then the pre-tensioning of the rear suspension components
by placing a specific weight of 68Kg above the centre of the spare
wheel in the boot before tightening all the bolts!


Rare sketch of the rear axle and suspension components
I've found out that this sketch was actually drawn by Steve Saxty as
there was no official diagram available at the time!
View showing one of the extra locating arms bolted between the axle and leaf springs
The yellow Polymer bushes have been added by the owner and were NOT a factory item


For front suspension, Tickford kept the standard 2.8i MacPherson struts with Bilstein inserts.
 Some owners have upgraded to roller bearing top mounts, but this was never
offered as a factory option.
Tickford did originally intend to use roller bearing mounts, but it was one upgrade
that had to be axed to keep the cost of the vehicle within target.


Standard top mount for the MacPherson struts The roller bearing mount as on my car Build 002


Same can be said about the Polymer bushes for the leaf springs that were listed on the
original press release documentation, but never made it to the production models.


The document scanned below is a quotation from Dave Cook Racing in 1989
where the company offers a selection of upgrades for 2.8i Capri owners.
It is very interesting to see the "Tickford" modifications listed along with
all the other upgrades that never found themselves making it
to the final Tickford Capri specification.


Although the costs would need back-dating a little to 1983 prices and adjusting for
trade / retail, this quotation shows that Tickford contracted out
around 710 worth of work per car to Dave Cook Racing.
Rear Axle 600
Rear Suspension Locating Arms 110
That would be around 3000 in today's money!
Many thanks to Chris Richards from the Tickford Capri Facebook Group for
providing this little gem of information


Despite the slightly lower than originally intended specification - the improvements
Tickford did make still produced a Capri that really held the road well.


The end result was a "true 140mph supercar" with a stunning 0-60mph time of just 6.7 seconds




Let's start this section with a quick definition of horsepower and torque
that I came across from a garage wall a while ago:



Right.......now on to the serious stuff:


Acceleration times from 0-30mph through to 0-120mph
Figures originally published by the late Mick Millward, organiser of the Tickford Register





  30 2.5  
  40 3.9  
  50 5.2  
  60 6.7  
  70 8.9  
  80 11.3  
90 14.3
  100 18.2  
  110 22.9  
  120 30.8  
  140 You need to be concentrating on the brakes rather than the clock by then !  


These performance figures were obtained using a maximum boost of 7.5psi and the
turbo wastegate was always fitted with a tamper-proof seal to ensure that
owners were not tempted to wind it up! 
However, on the original Motorshow car and demonstrator FMJ624Y,
Tickford quite often had the boost set at 10-12psi.
 I cannot begin to imagine what the acceleration must have been like!
 Presumably Tickford were more concerned about impressing potential customers
than having to re-build the engine and drivetrain every few weeks!
It is interesting to note that in the pre-production 1982 press release, the boost
was quoted as being 8.5psi, but it had become 7.5psi by the time
of the 1983 press release when the car entered production.


FMJ624Y on a test track, boosted to within an inch of its life!


You have to feel a bit sorry for FMJ624Y as it looked beautiful in the early photo shoots
and at the 1982 Motorshow, but subsequently had a hard life being used
for numerous road tests and customer demonstrations.


Early FMJ624Y shiny engine bay in "show mode"
The reality in "test mode" was a little different!


Click on the thumbnail below to see a short piece of video
showing a Tickford Capri on the road:




The interiors were treated to a beautiful leather and walnut trim on the dashboard,
with matching centre console that incorporated a Veglia clock, Lucas
boost gauge and switches for the electric windows.

   A leather map pocket was added in front of the glovebox.

Early cars had the door cards, rear quarter panels and steering wheel finished in matching
grey leather whilst the seats retained their standard 2.8i cloth trim.


The interior of an early Tickford Capri


Early centre console with the standard Tickford add-ons i.e. boost gauge
clock and electric window switches.


Above that, there was a huge list of options - everything from electric door mirrors
with a delay for the rear wiper, stainless steel large-bore exhaust and
double-dip Cibie headlights through to a full leather interior

with Wilton carpet and wool headlining.



If the customer specified the Electric Pack option of electric
mirrors and delay for the rear wiper, then the switches
were simply added to the centre console.


The Electric Pack was deleted from the options list fairly early on as Tickford
were receiving complaints about the electric mirrors wobbling
when travelling at high speed.


Optional wool headlining


The first Tickfords were based on the early 2.8i Capri.
 When Ford changed the model to the 2.8i Special, then Tickford
started using those for subsequent builds.
That meant that the Recaro seats were then half-leather as standard.
What isn't publicised is that at the same time, Tickford stopped bothering to re-trim
the door cards, rear quarter panels and steering wheels.
Also, on later builds, the clock and boost gauge were fitted where the radio
should be and the radio itself was moved down to the centre

console - this made the gauges much easier to read.


A later car where the gauges and radio have swapped places, the seats are standard
2.8i Special half-leather and the door cards have not been re-trimmed.
Note how Tickford always mounted switches and
gauges behind the wood veneer rather than
 just stick them through it.


A later centre console with no Electric Pack option


These later Tickfords also came with central locking and a Cobra alarm system installed as standard. 


The alarm warning LED can be seen just to the left of the ashtray


The final couple of Tickfords had the Walnut veneer changed to black Ash.
I am not sure if this was done to enhance the appearance of the 1987 model,
save money or because they had run out of Walnut!


Interior of the 1987 demonstrator car


Whichever way, compare the Tickford interiors to that
of a standard Ford Capri 2.8 Injection.


Wind Noise and Attention to Detail


A little-known fact is that during the development of their Capri, Tickford were not happy
with the level of wind noise above 100mph!
The production cars had an extra rubber seal added around the top of the front window

frames that cured the problem.


Attention to detail!


The centre cap on the steering wheel was normally replaced with one
having "Tickford" embossed across it.


A bit more attention to detail!


Tickford's attention to detail continued through to the boot, where the re-located battery
was hidden behind a box that matched the rear trim.
 This involved modifying the false wooden floor and altering the shape of the boot carpet.


Yet more attention to detail!


 For even more information about the Tickford Capri, please view the other
pages which are accessible via the Home Page.



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