Celebrate 50 Years Of The Ford Capri With Its Most Successful Racer
If you’re going to be the world’s most successful Ford Capri racer you need a Capri-kind of name. Somehow “Gordon Spice” fits the bill. He’s the man who, for five seasons in succession between 1976 and 1980, took top class honours in the British Saloon Car Championship, taking the Capri to 24 outright race victories. This year, the 50th anniversary of the Capri, Spice will lead the celebrations honouring “The car you always promised yourself” at the UK’s Silverstone Classic on July 26-28 July. Oh, and sorry about repeating that cheesy advertising slogan, but it’s almost the law to do that when mentioning the Capri.
Anyway, Gordon Spice will present a special Gordon Spice Trophy to the top-performing Capri in the Historic Touring Car Challenge (HTCC) race at Silverstone Classic, the world’s biggest historic motorsport event. The HTCC series features large numbers of Capris–including some actually raced by Spice in period–along with Rovers and other iconic saloon cars from the era. For the first time ever this year’s grid at the Classic will also allow entries from a number of Ford Cosworth RS500s, which will look amazing chasing down the Capri’s as they spit fire from their side-exit exhausts.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have been given this honour,” says Spice, now aged 78. “The Capri was very important to me, and it’s always wonderful to see so many Capris still racing today–50 years is a long time! The Capri was by far the easiest car I ever raced. There was absolutely nothing complicated about it; the rear-drive chassis was simple to tune, so it handled really, really well. Just a brilliant motor car.” The Capri was unveiled at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1969 and by the end of production in 1986, almost two million had been produced. They were hugely popular in British motor sport, ruling the touring car series after the bigger-engined American muscle cars were banned at the end of the 1975 season. It was only when another rule change permitted the introduction of the larger-engined Rover Vitesses that the Ford’s domination came to an end.
A celebratory anniversary parade for the Ford Capri will also take place on the Sunday of the event, fronted by the last Capri to roll off the production line in Cologne–a limited edition 280 Brooklands model owned by Ford’s heritage workshop. Tickets for the event are now available.
Images courtesy of Silverstone Classic