Ford Capri RS2600 - the European touring car legend
In the golden days of European Touring Car racing, the manufacturers introduced various homologation specials – cars with near-racing specifications, only to have them on the grid and win the races. One of the most famous cars of such kind is definitely Ford Capri RS 2600, which in the early 1970s cemented Ford’s reputation as a bankable performer.
Ford’s sporty new coupe needed racing version
When Ford introduced the Capri in 1968, European market was abuzz with praises for the new affordable coupe with sleek lines and fastback styling. It was called the ‘European Mustang’ because Ford used the same concept and marketing segment in Europe as it did in America. Even so, something was missing.
The Capri did have a long list of options and engines but it didn’t have a true performance and racing version which would attack the competitors on the racing circuits of Europe. So, in late 1969 work begun on a ‘special RS Capri’— a full performance model for the street and for the track.
Weslake reassembled Cologne V6 engine
The new model, called RS2600, was introduced in 1970 and featured some very serious modifications, making Capri one of the fastest cars on the market and the fastest Ford in Europe. The engine was a Cologne 2.6 V6 unit (hence the name RS2600) reassembled by Weslake and also featured its special all-alloy cylinder heads.
The street version was tuned to 150 hp
The Capri RS2600 used Kugelfischer fuel injection to raise power to 150 bhp and also received modified suspension, a close ratio gearbox, lightened bodywork panels, ventilated disc brakes and aluminium wheels. These were the street specifications and today, the 150 horsepower may not seem as too much, but back in 1971, it was a formidable number.
Ford Capri RS2600 race car was light but powerful beast
However, the Capri RS2600 was immediately used as a basis for the racing model intended for the FIA Group 2 races and European Touring Car Championship. The race cars specifications were very interesting because they had the same V6 Westake engine with special all alloy cylinder heads, Kugelfischer fuel injection and dry sump lubrication giving it approximately 320 bhp to the rear wheels.
The RS2600 also received modified suspension, a close ratio gearbox, lightened bodywork panels, ventilated disc brakes and aluminium wheels. The cars were lightened with fiberglass panels instead of steel units and boasted of a ZF five-speed gearbox. With a 320 bhp on tap and weight of around 900 kg, the racing Capri RS2600 was a beast on the track. It reached 100 km/h from a zero in 7.7 seconds.
Ford Capri RS2600 won two championship titles in a row
Success came immediately with Germany’s Dieter Glemser winning the Drivers’ title in the 1971 European Touring Car Championship behind the wheel of a factory-entered RS2600 and was taken forward the following year by a fellow-German Jochen Mass. Capri RS2600 was a totally dominant car in the 1972 ETCC season, so five Capri drivers were on the top of the championship standings: Mass, Glemser, Gerrard Larrousse, Alex Soler-Roig and Gerry Birrell.
Short but remembered racing career
In late 1972, Capri was redesigned and RS2600 had a new aerodynamic package installed that was needed for higher top speeds on tracks like the Spa. The main rival of the Capri RS2600 was BMW 3.0 CSL and those two classic racers had many epic track battles. When the blue and white factory entered Capris, they kept on winning until 1974 when Ford left ETCC competition. However, during its short but very successful career, the Ford Capri RS2600 was dominant in its class and voted one of the best-looking racing cars of the era.
Video : Ford Capri RS2600 on the track