History Lessons: #9 – 1973 Ford Capri RS3100
Not everyone is a purebred. In fact, if you’re like most of the people on this earth, you come from two separate and distinctive families. The new Ford Focus ST follows a similarly branching family tree. For the first time, the high performance Focus you buy in the US is the same as the one you could buy in the rest of the world. We’ve tasted from the European performance well in the US in the past as recently as the 2002 – 2004 Focus SVT, which was similar to the European Focus ST170. This “World Car” attitude is very present in the current and upcoming Ford vehicle catalog; the Fiesta has been for sale here for some time now and the 2013 Ford Fusion we’ll be seeing here is very much the same as the new Mondeo seen throughout the rest of the world. In this series, we’ll look into the history of compact performance offerings from Ford and how two parallel developments in the US and Europe have evolved into the new 2013 Ford Focus ST.
Time to revisit the Ford Capri Mk1. Last time we spoke about it, we were gushing about the extremely limited production RS2600. With 3500 units built, the RS2600 was like a straight-up production model compared to the 250 RS3100s that launched in 1973.
Initially, the car looked similar to the RS2600 except for a rather large ducktail spoiler fitted to the rear. In fact, the majority of the car was effectively the same as the RS2600. It shared brakes, suspension, wheels and front spoilers with the RS2600. The previously mentioned ducktail spoiler was required for high speed stability. The big changes were under the hood. The fuel injected 2.6L Cologne V6 from the RS2600 was binned and replaced with a bored-out 3.1L Essex V6 topped with a 2-barrel Weber carburetter. In this spec, it matched the same 150bhp as the RS2600 while offering 188ft/lbs of torque – up from the 166ft/lbs of the RS2600. While this was all fine and dandy, do you wonder why it was made in the first place with the Mk2 Capri waiting eagerly in the wings? Because racecar.
In Group 4 Touring Cars, the new RS3100 was a firebreather. Cosworth went full bore on the new Essex V6 creating the Cosworth GAA motor. The GAA was bored-out to 3.4L, topped with fuel injection and DOHC 4 valve cylinder heads pumping out a spectacular 435bhp. Not to mention, it was just plain sexy looking.
The car itself was equally sexy. It encompassed all the things that the vintage car geeks love: big box flares, brake ducts, center-lock mesh wheels with big fat polished lips, deep integrated front spoiler and a giant ducktail. It was an absolute beast and it came at a time when BMW was just launching their 3.0 CSL to perform massive door-to-door battles in Group 4. Unfortunately for Ford, the BMW was a dominating success in the major endurance races, winning the ’73 Nürburgring and Spa 24-hour endurance races. The car was driven in the 1974 Nürburgring 1000km by Jochen Mass and Niki Lauda, but failed to finish after losing a wheel. Jochen Mass took the car on to the Norisring in 1975 where it placed first in Round 4, but finished 17th in the overall championship.
The car set in motion the famous Zakspeed Capris from Germany, which we will discuss later when we return with the Mk3 Capris. Next time, we’re back to the United States.