With his Dad and Grandad both huge Capri fans, Tom Aspinall had no choice but to get one, too. And with his Capri 2.8i Special now sorted, he would have it any other way.
For as long as he can remember, Capris have played a huge part of Tom Aspinall’s life. In fact, his family connection with Ford’s respected icon stems way back before this 29-year-old was born. As we’ll find out, it’s no surprise that Tom has continued the family’s tradition and is now the proud owner of this 2.8i stunner.
“My Grandad, Derrick always had a love for the cars of his youth,“ Tom explains, “not just Fords though he did have a particular soft spot for the Capri.” In his lifetime, Derrick owned three examples, a black JPS limited edition and a Venetian red automatic 2-litre Ghia among them. “It was the red Ghia I have fond early memories of,” Tom smiles. “I remember being picked up in it every Saturday and taken to my grandparents’ house while my parents worked, I absolutely loved the thing, how it looked, how it sounded and the people that would stop and talk to my Grandad at every opportunity.”
Tom’s Dad, Neil ended up buying the Ghia from his Dad when he first met Tom’s Mum and continued to care for the car as it always had been. “When my Mum became pregnant with me, my Dad decided a Capri wasn’t going to be so practical and decided it had to go,” Tom recalls. “It didn’t go far though and it was sold to one of his mates in 1990.” A few years rolled by and the Capri was sold once again back to Tom’s Grandad and it was that period of the car’s life and indeed Tom’s life that holds those precious memories. “It continued to be driven right up until 2001 then ended up being parked up in my Grandad’s garage for over a decade,” Tom tells us. “In 2014 he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and we knew we had to recommission the Capri so he could enjoy it again while he still could.”
It was down to Tom’s Dad and his mate Nick Evans, a college lecturer in motor mechanics to get the old Pinto working again after 13 years being stood still. The brakes were refurbished, and a full service carried out and the keys were handed back to Derrick in time for him to enjoy his pride and joy for his final months.
It would have made sense in many ways for Tom to inherit his Grandad’s Ghia, but Tom and Derrick both had different opinions on how a Capri should look. “My Grandad always liked to keep cars in factory condition, his Ghia didn’t even have a boot spoiler and he didn’t want to add one,” Tom explains. “I’ve always liked modified cars and the thought of bolting on spoilers and alloys to my Grandad’s Ghia was out of the question.” Either way, Tom was still lusting after his own Capri.
Tom had been keeping a close eye on the market for Capris, but it was the Capri World Facebook group which would eventually come up with the goods. “I’d already had a garage built at my new house with the measurements to fit a Capri inside,” Tom laughs. “This 2.8i Special came up for sale in Blackpool, the timing was perfect and before I knew I’d become its new owner and was driving the car home.”
The 1985 Special complete with its factory five-speed ’box, LSD and half-leather Recaros was already in decent shape as the previous owner happened to run a bodyshop. Any crusty panels had been replaced which included new doors, bonnet and tailgate. The underside had never been welded and was devoid of wax or underseal so there were no nasty hidden surprises either. It had also been resprayed in Toyota Caribbean blue, a period colour which Tom liked right from the off. And we must agree, that vivid shade of blue suits the Capri’s shape perfectly, though we’re told it has upset some purists out there!
With none of the usual rust issues to worry about, Tom could crack on with his modification plans straight away. “I’d been inspired by the drift car scene with their deep-dish wheels, stance, spoilers and splitters,“ Tom confesses. “I’ve always thought this style would suit a Capri, but as I was planning to use the car on the road, it had to remain practical, too.” We should point out Tom is a plumber by trade and a talented drummer too, so the Capri’s boot space would be often used to its full potential!
The wheels came in for attention first, the 280 rims that were fitted not really cutting it in Tom’s eyes. “I do like the classic style of the 280 wheels, but I wanted the car to stand out more and after a lot of debating, I ended up swapping them for a set of 8×15 inch JBW four-spokes which I’m now really happy with.”
Satisfied with his choice of wheels, getting the ride height just right was paramount to Tom. Winding down the Bilstein adjustable coil-overs up front and adding 1.5 inch lowering blocks on single leaf springs at the rear achieve that perfect aggressive stance.
Hunting for spoils
When Tom bought the Capri it already had the desirable RS splitter in place, though the rear spoiler remained just standard 2.8 Injection. “They didn’t really complement each other and I knew the only rear spoiler that would work for me was an RGA spoiler from back in the day,” Tom recalls. “This would prove to be a nightmare to find involving constant searching for six months, but eventually I found one!” The Injection decals which had been supplied with the car and left in the glovebox were then fitted professionally completing the exterior look Tom was aiming for.
The 160 bhp 2.8 Cologne was a strong performer in its day and Tom hasn’t messed around with this one at all — it runs sweet and sounds fantastic thanks to that Ashley exhaust, gurgling away at idle and screaming when the loud pedal is pressed.
“I’ve always liked the 2.8i Special interior with its half-leather Recaros,” Tom tells us. “These weren’t bad, but had began to sag, so a seat rebuild was in order which included new bolsters.” The only noticeable change inside has been the fitment of a deep-dish steering wheel as Tom admits he isn’t a massive fan of Ford’s original.
Keeping the faith
We’re pleased to report Tom’s Capri is driven on a regular basis and just like his Grandad’s 2-litre Ghia all those years ago, it gains plenty of attention and admiration. Tom’s Grandad may not have approved of the mods, but we’re sure he’s proud that Tom has continued to play his part in the Aspinall’s family tradition.
Words and Photos Jon Cass
See more photos and get the full spec on Tom’s Capri 2.8i in the February issue
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