Ford’s World-Beating Touring Cars Were Simply Menacing
I recently heard a radio interview that dispensed some advice just as I was thinking about the next classic racing livery to feature: “Write what you know,” the lady said, and who am I to argue?
Therefore, this is about the incredible look of Ford Capri racers.
The Capri itself is what kicked off and formed my unadulterated love of cars. For, in 1977, my father came home with a ’74 Ford Capri 3.0 V6. The Mk1 was gleaming white—though painted red at a later date—had the obligatory black bonnet, bumpers removed, and Cobra alloy wheels. There were a few other (tasteful) modifications, but still an absolute supercar in the eyes of a three year old. During the next decade, other cars came and went, but the Capri was always kept and therefore held my passion for the marque alive.
Now, as much as I absolutely adored my father’s Capri, the ultimate incarnation of the Mk1 can only be that of the Cologne RS3100 that competed in the European Touring Car Championship.
As I thought of this car, I began to realise there’s a whole middle ground I haven’t covered when it comes to racing liveries. The idea, that, after the introduction of sponsorship in motorsports, cars were quite simply painted in sponsor colors—and that was the death of the previous era of what can only be described as “paint jobs”.
Even from the ’70s, that notion turns out not be true, as the Cologne RS Capri shows. This factory-entered car appeared in a professional racing series carrying no sponsorship logos anywhere (well, bar the odd performance parts manufacturer…) Instead, we have what looks to be a well-considered and thought out livery. The vivid Royal Blue slabs of colour that smother its fierce, wide fiberglass arches do an excellent job of accentuating the downright menace the car holds, yet at the same time the—unusual for the era—subtle pinstriping emphasizes the curvy, sexy side of the Capri.
Look at how the coach-line travels around the car to hug the Capri’s classic roof line, and how the same delicate stripe outlines that pure race car rear end—it really was a stark comparison to the cars competing against it, even if others weren’t running with many sponsor logos.
Another subject that I can’t ignore is that of Alan Mann Racing’s Mk1 Ford Escort. The early Escorts are other fast Fords of a similar vintage, and the smaller brother of the Capri. The Mk1 Escort is also a car that I’m sure has recently amazed many people thanks to its ever-appreciating valuations.
Alan Mann Racing’s is another paint job that I have very fond childhood memories of, all thanks to the lustrous red and gold colour scheme of my Alan Mann Racing Escort Mk1 Scalextric car. This was easily worth its weight in red and gold to me, as I treasured that car. It was even my education on why racing cars had black tape stuck over the headlights!
The real thing, though, certainly has a great presence. I can personally certify this, as while working for a sign writer based at Silverstone, we shared a hut with the Daihatsu Charade works rally team—an odd pairing, I know—but in the darkest far corner of the building sat a pristine Alan Mann-liveried Escort, and boy did it glitter like gold.
The depth of the red coachwork, combined with the gold and finest of black pinstripes, gave the car a wonderfully rich look and feel, which again helped the car and team cement its place in at the top of the podium.
As far as fast Fords go, these two examples just happened to be personal favorites of mine, but I’d love to discover more of this untapped world, so please comment with any recommendations of equally subtle but still unsponsored race cars.