Nicknamed Black Beauty, this Cosworth Capri whispers delicately about its potential as it wafts under the radar. Until Mark Misiura mashes the throttle pedal.
The thing about references is that you have to know your audience. Otherwise they can just totally fly over people’s heads. Take Mark Misiura’s Cosworth Capri, for example: he’s named it Black Beauty. Now, to those of us who watched a lot of crap telly in the ’80s, we’ll know Black Beauty as a horse who… actually, no, we can’t tell you what happened in the show, it was always on at the same time as the rallycross coverage. Point is, we get the reference. So does it matter if today’s younger, up-and-coming classic Ford enthusiast may not immediately be reminded of rampaging stallions? No, not a single iota — for this is a car of such might, such quality, that it’s taking the name and owning it. Henceforth, Black Beauty shall always conjure images of, first and foremost, this very car.
So let’s take a moment to dive into why it’s such a magnificent machine, shall we?
“I’ve owned the car for 10 years now,” Mark explains. “It was bought by my wife, Angela, as a present for my 40th birthday.” A generous gift indeed; after all, as we know, the Capri is very much ‘the car you always promised yourself,’ so there are few birthday presents finer than the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition. However, it wasn’t quite the stealthy little nat-asp YB-toting Cosworth Capri sleeper that you see today; no, as bought this was a bog-standard 1.6-litre Laser. A nice little spec, and a very original car, but quite a long way from the fire-breathing hedonism of the top-of-the-range V6 Capris. The 2.8i, for example, claimed a 158 bhp output. And the 1.6? More like 72 bhp… Plenty of room for improvement, then.
“The car was all original, as if it had just come out of the factory,” Mark recalls. “It was in outstanding condition, with just a little surface rust on the front wings, which were replaced. The seller did say ‘Please keep it as it is,’ and I did… for about a month!”
Nothing to be embarrassed about there, of course. Once you’ve sold a car, you don’t really have any say in what happens to it — and besides, I think we can all agree that Mark’s hard-won endeavours have done much to improve the thing. Originality be damned. You only live once.
“Four weeks after getting it, the engine was out and replaced with a 2.1 I’d built,” Mark continues. “That engine ended up staying in the car for eight years, until in 2015 I decided I wanted something a bit pokier, and opted to fit the Cosworth motor.”
Mark’s effort, which he picked up already converted to non-turbo, is certainly doing the business too — fuelled by juicy twin 50s and running H&H ignition, it’s putting out an impressive 191 bhp at the wheels, which is not to be sniffed at. A contemporary V6 Capri certainly wouldn’t see which way it went.
“It was a pretty successful install,” he says, modestly. “There were only a few teething problems with gearbox mounting, and speedo and clutch cable length, but it got there in the end.” And the shimmering, high-octane engine bay centrepiece is just one part of the jigsaw; hanging from the back of it is a Cosworth T5 gearbox, nestling on a stainless steel mount, and you’ll spot that shiny material appearing a lot throughout the car. You see, Mark hasn’t just built this to be a handy performer — he’s paid painstaking attention to the details too.
“I take it to a lot of shows, and it’s always a headturner,” he says. “In fact, it’s won over 40 trophies now.” Crikey. Testament to his vision indeed. But far from being a one-dimensional show pony, the spec sheet proves that the whole thing’s been engineered to deploy those rampaging horses efficiently and boisterously.
The suspension comprises adjustable Spax dampers with single-leaves at the rear, currently translating to a 1 inch drop all round, while there are 2.8i anti-roll bars fore and aft. Also liberated from the 2.8i are its bigger front callipers and rear drums, to offer a little more enthusiasm than the stock 1.6 items. 205-section rubber serves up just enough contact to balance between grip and mischief, and a Quaife diff is on hand for playtime.
And, naturally, the interior has received just as much fastidious attention: the Recaro seats have been retrimmed by Aldridge Trimming in sumptuous Aston Martin leather, double-stitched for extra fanciness, while Mark’s eyeline is treated to a rebuilt dash with walnut fascia and white dials as he grips that timeless RS four-spoke wheel.
This car, then, is primarily about stealth. OK, there’s a faint whiff of JPS about the black-and-gold scheme, but from 20 paces this is simply a tidy, unfussy Mk3. And then you spot the Cosworth badge. And then Mark disappears in a maelstrom of swishing chemistry.
So the next time the subject of Black Beauty comes up, you can forget all about those aged references to horses. This is the new definition, and it’ll do us just fine.
Words Daniel Bevis
Photos Matt Woods
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