Classic Fords restored: If you are known as ‘Burt’ Reynolds, you’ve got to love a bit of tail-out action — and this beautifully restored Capri is his fourth (and best).
Words Marc Stretton
Photo Michael Whitestone
Having just bought-in and become the boss of Coops, a specialist insurance company that caters for classics as one of its main strings, Ian ‘Burt’ Reynolds from Sutton would look a bit hypocritical driving about in a Audi, Bimmer or Merc. But there’s no chance of that, because Burt has been a classic Forder since buying his first Capri — a 1600LS registered A718 YOB. A 17-year-old in a Capri with YOB on the plate? That sounds like a recipe for a lot of attention from the Plod.
“YOB was replaced by a C-plate Laser,” Burt recalls, “but around 1997 life got serious and I had to sell my toys to get a house deposit together. Six years later, I did get another Capri, but this ended up as a very short-term ownership. The car was a £300 E-plate 2.8i,” he says, “but when I took the car for a test, there wasn’t a lot of chassis holding the floor together.” It would be a further four years before another Capri opportunity would arrive for Burt, but this one would be a keeper, even once the car turned from a daily-driver in to a garage filler and then a long-term rebuild project.
“In 2007 I spotted a C-plate 2.8i for sale for £1200 on the Surrey Capri Club website,” says Burt, “and a proper check this time revealed the car to be in much better condition. After a year of use, I went to get some quotes to get the bonnet resprayed and somehow got talked in to having the whole car bare-metalled.
“Unfortunately I then fell out with the mate who was due to help me respray and get the Capri back together,” Burt continues, “so it was pushed in to a garage, still paintless and stayed there for four years! Even worse, the garage had a roof like a colander, which wasn’t going to do it any favours, but a lot of covers and a tarpaulin helped keep the worst of the weather off the exposed steel.
“When I moved house in 2011, the Capri’s situation got even worse, as the new place didn’t even have a garage,” Burt admits. “Luckily the home move had freed up some cash, so there was an opportunity to finally get on with saving the car. But it would still take more than a year to find someone willing to take on the task.”
“Over that year I contacted 21 local bodyshops and restoration specialists, but no-one seemed interested in the work,” says Burt. “With the Capri deteriorating by the day, I finally put a ‘help me!’ shout out on Old Skool Ford, literally as a last resort before scrapping. Thankfully, this did the trick and I got a reply from the guys at Maximum Application Vehicle Repairs. This was in the early days of Maximum Application and all I can say is that they have been brilliant to work with throughout — even if I was a bit dubious when they first came to see the car. When a punk, a skinhead and a bloke that looks like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo turn up and say they’re taking your car to a workshop in the middle of nowhere, you do start to wonder what’s going on!”
Despite its years of naked storage, Burt’s Capri was amazingly solid still, but there was a list of jobs for Glen and Sean to be getting on with back at Maximum Application. A heavy layer of surface rust had to be dealt with, of course, plus sills and the A-posts had repairs, as did the front valance and the headlamp bowls.
The floorpans needed some patching, but by far the worst areas on the car were the strut tops. “When the strengthening plates came off, much of the metal right back to the bulkhead disappeared too,” Burt says. “It’s a miracle the struts had never punched through and left the car’s nose on the deck!”
While Maximum Application got on with the body and paint, Burt concentrated on refurbishing the mechanical side of the Capri. “The car was 100 per cent original, mechanically,” he says, “and much was in good condition, so could be stripped, cleaned, reassembled and painted or powdercoated. I pretty much learnt everything about the car as I went along,” he adds, “but decided not to do anything to the gearbox and LSD axle as they seemed to be in good working order.
“The only departure from factory-spec 2.8i is a Powerflow stainless exhaust system,” Burt admits. “That’s because the Capri came with a straight-through system with Cherry Bombs, which was way too loud. At least with the Powerflow it’s just medium loud.
“I’m most proud of the V6 though, as it’s been my first full engine rebuild,” he adds. “The oil pressure was good, so all I’ve done is a strip, clean and put-back-together with every seal, gasket and consumable replaced, but the end result seems to work, so I’m happy. I did a lot of the work in the garden too, as I still had no garage,” Burt continues, “with the bits covered by a tarpaulin to protect them from the weather. One morning I did wake to find the tarp had blown away and the engine bores filled with rainwater, but luckily I got it all out and cleaned back up before any damage was done!”
All bolted back together, and with some finishing upholstery touches by an 83-year-old gent called Ivan who remembers working at Aston Martin in Feltham (and they left there in 1948), Burt now has his long-suffering Capri back on the streets where it belongs and in near mint factory condition. To protect the car he’s going to need some good classic insurance cover... but we don’t think he’s going to have any problem obtaining that!