After much searching over here in Canada for a Capri, I eventually found one. Not in Canada though, as all the ones here have rusted away due to all the salt on the roads in the winter. The one I found was in Danville, Indiana, which is just outside Indianapolis. I worked out the cheapest way to get there (certainly not the quickest tho), put my tools in my rucksack and headed to the bus station.
I left Toronto at 9pm on Friday night, and made it back at home at 3:30am Monday morning. The car had only been driven 1300 miles in the last 9 years, so taking it over 500 miles in 2 days was bound to show some problems. Here's the story of my American Capri adventure....
I took the bus from Toronto to Buffalo New York, as its much cheaper to fly there. The border guards entering the US weren't too impressed by my plan of buying an old car in Indiana and asked me lots of questions about how I was going to get there, how I was going to get back etc, and why I needed so many tools! :xd: I eventually satisfied them and they let me through. I arrived in Buffalo airport at 1am and slept on a bench until my flight at 6am. A quick stop over in Washington DC and I was in Indianapolis for about 10am, although pretty tired due to lack of sleep but excited about the journey ahead.
The Capri is a 1976 Ghia with a 2.8 Cologne. I was originally a California car and hence has a Motorcraft 2100 polution carb, with air pump and EGR and all that other crazy gubbins European cars didn't have back then. The cars current owner met me and my travelling companion at the airport in the Capri and took us to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to transfer the title to my name. After a bit of faffing about trying to get their computer systems to accept my Canadian address it was done and I had a bit of paper with "Temporary Permit" on it to stick on my windscreen so I could drive the car without plates. The cars previous owner wished us luck and pointed us North and we were off.
After 5 minutes of driving I decided I wasn't happy with the steering so pulled into a KwikFit type place to get the tracking done. They said go have some breakfast and come back in an hour. We did and they hadn't started. 30 mins later they gave me the car back and told me they couldn't track it as there tracking machine was broken. We headed up the road to another place who said come back in an hour so we went to wall mart and got some Panama hats and Hawaiian shirts. When we came back they hadn't started either, but eventually it was done and we set off, 3 hours later than planned.
It was just before setting off I head my first Capri cliche in the US. If you have ever driven a Capri, or probably any old ford for that matter, someone has probably said to you, "Cor, you don't see many of them these days". One of the mechanics at the place that did the tracking said to me, "Hey man, I didn't think there was any of them left". Given that they were never a very popular car, most Americans don't even know what the Capri is. This guy seemed quite jealous I'd found one so near him and he hadn't heard about it.
Here we are with the car, all tracked up, wearing our new Panama hats.
We set off, heading North towards Detroit as that is where we would be stopping for the night. All was going well and I was getting the feel of the car when disaster struck. There was a loud bang, steam sprayed over the windscreen and the back wheels locked up. We slid across the road and I managed to come to a stop in the hard shoulder. I got out to asses the damage.
I was very confused about what I saw. Water and come out of the radiator cap, and the rear drivers side tire was shreaded and all wrapped up in the wheel arch. I was trying to find a connection, thinking something had broken off the engine and punctured the tire. My theory was that the blow out had locked the wheels up as the tire wrapped its self up in the wheel arch, stopping the engine and the pressure had blown the cap.
After filling up the radiator I couldnt get the cap back on. On closer inspection it appeared that part of the neck had broken!
I managed to bodge it on using some fuel hose clips, then I pulled in at the next petrol station and got some jump leads and used the croc clip to hold the cap in place. Amazingly it seemed to work and we weren't loosing any water!
We were back out on the open road again, crusin
But then, it happened again. Another blow out. Thankfully this one wasn't as dramatic.
Luckily the previous owner had given us 2 of the original wheels as well as the spare, but we only had 2 sets of lug nuts to fit the original wheels, so if we had another blow out we were gonna be screwed, and I didn't fancy out chances of finding some 13 inch tires in the middle of nowhere, so we proceeded cautiously. More cautiously than American bikes who don't wear helmets!
After all the hold ups with the blow outs and getting the tracking done it was 11:30pm by the time that we arrived at our hotel for the night. The Detroit Motorcity Casino Hotel. The road coming into Detroit was pretty rough. All the street lights were out and there were gangs of people hanging about in the dark on every street corner. Inside the casino it was nice though, although it was an interesting crowd. Half the guys there were dressed up like huggy bear. We played some roulette and black jack, had a few pints, and went to bed when the bars closed.
Here's the Casino by day, massive place:
The next morning we got up and I made some calls to try and track down some 205/60/13 tires. It was still a good way to Toronto and I had lost faith on the tires that came with the car after the previous 2 blow outs. They looked good but I think they were just a little old and the high speed long distance drive was finishing them off.
Luckily I found a place that had some new ones in stock. I'd never heard of them before, "Tempra" but decided I'd take what I could get. We hurried down there to catch the place as it was closing at 1pm and we only finished breakfast at 11:30. We go there and found that non of the staff could speak english, they were all mexicans. Then the boss came out and he translated for us and set his boys to work putting the new tires on and balancing them.
Once the new tires were on and I'd handed over $270US of my hard earned we headed to our next destination, The Henry Ford Museum, so I could make my Pilgrimage to the great man.
Its a massive places, filled with planes, trains and cars, as well as all sorts of other stuff. Definitely worth a visit if you are there. Here's some of the more interesting exhibits:
The Prototype Mustang
This thing is powered by 4 Hemi V8s!
This was Henry Ford's attempt at a model T for the skies. The dimensions were set when he said he wanted a plane that would fit in his office. It was too dangerous and hard to fly though and only 3 were ever made.
The Car JFK was shot in
The above is my favorite car there. A father and son from the south of Chile set out one day in this Model A Ford, with $5 in their pockets and aimed to realise their life long dream of visiting the Henry Ford museum.
They set out in 1992 and after 2 years of staying in shelters and taking donations for the drive North they arrived at the museum in this car where it has remained ever since. That must have been one hell of a road trip.
The Henry Ford Museum is surrounded by other Ford buildings and factories. The factory tour wasn't on as it was Sunday but I'm going to go back another time and do it.
It was really getting late now, about 5pm and we still had to cross the border into Canada, so we headed to the Ambassador bridge:
Once in Canada I did all the necessary paper work to import the vehicle, paid the tax and we headed East to Toronto. I really wanted to stop and take a photo with Detroit in the back ground of the Capri, but time was pressing on and I didn't want to come off the high way and get lost so we pressed on. I'll get some better photos when I go back to do the Ford factory tour.
The plan was to stop in half way between Detroit and Toronto at London and visit a fellow Capri enthusiast, David. He has a very nice 2.0 mk1 as well as a V6 mk2 which is an ongoing project. Its a very good thing we had this stop coming up. All the way there I was watching the temp gauge slowly creep up. It had been a 1/4 all the way, but in the last 30 mins had risen to 3/4.
As we came off the motorway and dropped the revs we heard the engine was not happy and making lots of rumbling noises. We stopped at David's place, turned off the engine, saw coolant pissing out of the hole in the water pump.
It must have been leaking out all the way since detroit and thats why the temp was going up. This is where David really saved the day and announced that he had a new waterpump in the garage, as well as a radiator with a good neck on it. We had a couple of beers and got busy. A few hours, a tube of silicone and a tub of swarfega later and we were done!
The temperature stayed low all the way back, and the car we sounding much happier. I finally got into my bed at 3:30am, dreading getting up at 8am for work. But I'd made it home in one piece, with the car and without needing to call a tow truck! :woot:
Today I took it for a safety inspection. That is a bit like an MOT but it only happens when the car transfers owners. They don't have annual inspections here and the whole thing is a bit of a farce. They told me I need new rear shoes, a wheel cylinder and a new pair of TCAs. I wasn't happy about the TCAs and they seemed fine to me. I challenged the mechanic and he put it up on the ramps and showed me the play. I couldn't see any play and complained. He said "Hey man, they aren't bad, but its the safety you know". Not happy but its not big deal replacing them, just need to find a set. Parts availability here isn't the best as it was never a popular car. Anyway, I'll find some, go for the retest, then I can put plates on it. And then, I can start with the modifications and driving it like I stole it. :xd: