Whose Idea was it in the First Place?

 

So the concept of the Tickford Capri must have been dreamed-up by a group
of automotive engineers sat at drawing boards and computers?
 
WRONG!
 
 Try a motoring journalist and a couple of chairmen in the motor industry that were car nuts!

   

 
The original sketch for the Tickford Capri, drawn by Simon Saunders
who was one of Aston Martin Tickford's Design Team.
 
Type Approval requirements and safety legislation would force the final
design to be a little less radical !

 

The Tickford Turbo was John Miles vision of the ultimate Capri.
 
John Miles was a Lotus test driver and motoring journalist who firmly believed
that the Capri had potential to become a 140 mph supercar.
 
 Following time spent in F1, he raced Capris and was an expert on tuning their suspension.
 
In September 1981, he wrote to both Aston Martin and Reliant with his
proposals for a "super-Capri".
 
At the same time, he also contacted John Waddell who was the Vice President
of Public Affairs at Ford, to ascertain their thoughts on the project.
 
Positive responses resulted in a meeting on 15th October 1981, attended by John Miles,
W Bannard who was the Director of Parts and Service for Aston Martin
and a representative from Reliant.
 
The meeting was held at Pirelli's London office and their Director of Marketing and PR,
Tom Northey was also there.
 
Tom Northey was interested in the project as a marketing opportunity for Pirelli's new P7 tyre.
 
Bannard subsequently reported back to Victor Gauntlett (Chairman of Aston Martin)
who was extremely keen for the project to progress.
 
 Ford were similarly enthusiastic and Bob Lutz (Chairman of Ford Europe) became involved.

  

     
Victor Gauntlett John Miles Bob Lutz
Aston Martin Chairman Suspension tuning expert Main supporter at Ford Europe
(sadly passed away in 2003)    

 

After a further meeting in November 1981 between John Miles, Victor Gauntlet
and Bob Lutz, ideas began to develop into reality.
 
The aim was to produce a car that had the looks and performance of the Aston Martin
Vantage, but kept the advantages of a basic Capri.
 
Aston Martin and Ford would each go halves on the project costs, with Ford contributing
25-30k plus the cost of a 2.8i to enable a prototype car to be built.
 
At this stage, the car was to be known as the Ford Capri 2.8T (standing for Turbo).

 

    

Unfortunately, shortly after the project had begun to gather momentum,
Bob Lutz was promoted to a higher position within Ford of America
and as far as Ford were concerned, the project was put on hold.
 
Thankfully John Miles and Victor Gauntlet decided to carry on without Ford's involvement
and an agreement was drawn up to manufacture ultimately 400 cars.
 
For a while, the car continued to be known as the 2.8T, now reported by the press
that it stood for Tickford, although this was subsequently dropped in favour of the
"Tickford Capri" name that the production cars would be known by.
 
Reliant continued to be involved in the project, being given responsibility
for manufacturing the fibreglass bodywork that would be created
by Tickford's Chief Designer, Simon Saunders.
 
Tickford Capris were sold with Goodyear NCT tyres as standard - the Pirelli P7
tyres appeared on the list of extra-cost factory options and were rated
 very highly by those that had them fitted.


   

 
Simon Saunders - Member of Tickford's Design Team
 
 
 
Chris Bale - Lead Engineer who was responsible for
all the engine development work.

 

VHK494S was a 3.0S Capri, registered on 20th January 1978 to the Ford press department
and believed to be the only Capri finished in Peppermint Green.
 
 
 
 
The car was used by Autocar Magazine as a long term test vehicle and driven by John Miles.
 
The car was returned to Ford in May 1979 and subsequently purchased by John Miles himself.
 
In addition to his work with Autocar, John ran a company called WM Developments and they
wanted the car to develop themselves as a more efficient alternative
to the Ford triple-carb Series X Capri.
 
During the early days of the Tickford Capri development work, VHK494S
became the test bed for the suspension as John Miles was partly

responsible for this aspect of the project.

  

As the volume of information about VHK494S is growing, the full story
is now located on a separate page that can be accessed from

the main "Contents" page or by clicking the image below:

 

 

With the suspension well on the way to being sorted, Tickford needed to turn
their attention to the engine.
 
From July 1981 to September 1982, German Ford RS dealers were marketing
the RS 2800 Turbo Capri which employed a 2.8 Cologne engine with
single Solex twin-choke carburettor and a Garrett T4 turbocharger.
 
The turbo set to 5.4psi of boost produced 188bhp @ 5500rpm or in other
words, a 0-60mph time of 7.7 seconds and top speed of 137mph.

 

 
The RS 2800 Turbo, also known as the "Werksturbo"
 
The base car was actually a 3.0S with bucket-loads of modifications!

 

 
Front of the sales brochure from Ford Germany

 

Tickford borrowed a white RS 2800 Turbo from Stuart Turner who was overseeing
Ford Motorsport at the time, with a view to evaluating it's suitability as the
power plant for their Capri.

 

 
Engine bay of the RS 2800 Turbo

 

Tickford soon realised that the car was really just a modified kit of parts
supplied by Schwabengarage GMBH in Germany.
 
All the cars were LHD which meant that the Garrett turbo sat precisely
where the steering column would be on a RHD car.
 
The engine did not produce enough power for Tickford's remit, so they
quickly abandoned the research and went their own way to create
the superb 2.8i based motor found in the production cars.

 

The full prototype Tickford Capri was finished in time for the 1982 NEC Motorshow
and Tickford were planning to sell their cars for around 14,000.

 

 
Simon Saunder's design sketch of the finished prototype
that did meet Type Approval and all the legislative requirements.

 

 
Short article from Autosport magazine in October 1982 showing the prototype
on Aston Martin's stand at the NEC Motorshow - enquiries started to flood-in!
 
The article also makes mention of an earlier Capri that John Miles developed
and that car is VHK494S shown above.

 

 
The prototype car at the 1982 NEC Motorshow

 

Chris Bale, the Lead Engineer for the Tickford Capri project, has kindly
provided his observations from that 1982 Motorshow:
 
 

 

In response to enquiries from potential customers, Nigel Shepherd, who was the Manager
of Coachbuilding at Tickford, prepared an individually-signed covering letter together
with a copy of the 1982 Press Release and photograph of the prototype.
 

Each scan is a link to the full-size document that will open in a new window

 

 
 
   
   
   
   

 

After the 1982 NEC Motorshow, the white prototype became registered as FMJ624Y
and started to be used as a demonstrator for the motoring magazines
 in addition to its duties on the test track.
 
To help it out, a red prototype and demonstrator was added to the fleet,
registered as FMJ625Y.
 
Although this red car had the bodykit and mechanicals, I gather that it
didn't have a complete Tickford interior.

      

   
The red prototype FMJ625Y The 1982 Motorshow prototype

 

 
The vision of three enthusiasts, now registered as FMJ624Y
and parked round the back of some dodgy-looking
lock-up garages..........actually the entrance to
the workshops at Tickford's Blakelands HQ!

 

 
FMJ625Y being put through its paces on the MIRA test track
 
Photo courtesy of Steve Saxty

 

For the October 1983 Motorshow at Earls Court, Tickford built another white car which
became known as Build 001 with a registration of A411MHK.
 
This car had a standard Tickford interior rather than the full leather treatment.
 
At the Motorshow, Build 001 was exhibited on Tickford's stand and the original
white prototype FMJ624Y was loaned to an Aston Martin dealership
called Richard Williams to use for their display!

    

 
The 1983 Motorshow cars patiently waiting for their lift in front of Tickford's Blakelands HQ
 
 
 
Tickford Capri Build 001, together with a Frazer Metro and Tickford Lagonda
being loaded at the start of their journey to the 1983 Motorshow.
 
 
 
Build 001 on Tickford's stand at the 1983 Earls Court Motorshow

 

Build 001 subsequently became the photographic model for the official Ford brochures
in February and March / April 1984 before being sold.
 
The white prototype FMJ624Y later disappeared without trace, which is very sad.
 
The red prototype FMJ625Y was eventually sold to a customer when Tickford
had finished playing with it.

    

 
Build 001 starred in the Ford brochure and his photo was even
available as a giant poster for Ford showrooms.
 
Paul Windram (Build 026) has made an interesting observation about this graphic:
 
"I always smile at this picture as the Ford graphic design people created a
picture of a car about to crash.  It's just taken a right curve, the rear end
appears to be out of line and the front wheels are still straight with the
 Armco behind it.  Maybe that contributed to Ford not selling many."

 

Production started soon after the 1983 Motorshow, when Tickford received Type Approval.
 
The price ended-up being  14,985 excluding options, which was almost
double that of a standard 2.8i Capri!
 
Motor Sport magazine compared the car's performance to the 2.7 litre Porsche 911.

 

I am deeply indebted to John Miles for providing me with copies of his private correspondence
dating back to 1981 when the idea was born and also to Dave Wood for allowing me to browse
through the archives at Tickford's old factory in Bedworth a number of years ago.
 
Each scan below is a link to the full-size document that will open in a new window

 

   
September 1981 October 1981
   
The letter from John Miles to Ford that started it all off John Miles receives positive response from Aston Martin
   
   
   
November 1981
 
John Miles receives confirmation that Tickford will go halves on the prototype car
 
 
   
February 1983 October 1983
   
John Miles receives letter from Bob Lutz Tickford receives Type Approval for the Capri

 

One further exhibition car was built, this time for the 1984 Motorshow.
 
Pearlescent white paint, with a red and white leather interior really made it stand out!
 
The car was Build 055 and it has recently been restored in Holland.

 

 
Build 055 at the 1984 Motorshow

 

To finish this page on a high, Steve Saxty has un-earthed a beautiful photo
of the six original cars that Ford ordered for demonstration and sale,
taken outside Tickford's Blakelands HQ

 

 
L to R:
 
Build 001 - A411MHK
Build 005 - A412MHK
Build 009 - A413MHK
Build 006 - A414MHK
Build 008 - A415MHK
Build 011 - A416MHK
 
 A411MHK did not have the electric pack option with
electric mirrors, but the other five did
 
 A411MHK is still in existence and has recently been immaculately restored
 
 A412MHK currently lives in Germany
 
 A413MHK is believed to be in parts with no restoration pending
 
 A414MHK is on the road, currently registered as FTS681
 
 A415MHK is complete and in storage, currently registered as SOI1181
 
A416MHK is currently on the "missing" list
 
My own car Build 002 is not shown as it was built for a private sale, along
with several others and not ordered by Ford themselves

 

 

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