Sue Elliott-Sink
January 1, 2000
Photos By: Tony Reales

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P74527_large 1985_Mercury_Capri Front_ViewP74528_large 1985_Mercury_Capri EngineP74529_large 1985_Mercury_Capri Interior_DashboardP74530_large 1985_Mercury_Capri Rear_View

When we asked Tod Raines of Gilbert, Arizona, why he and his wife, Vicki, built this car, he jokingly replied that he's a "glutton for punishment." But considering how much effort went into turning an '85 Mercury Capri hatchback into an amalgam Mustang, we wonder if he was really joking.

Believe it or not, Tod says changing the body on the car was the easy part, except for fighting with the quarter windows. It was easy to drop in a 351W, too. The hardest part was getting the '91 Mustang LX dash installed. Tod built new bracketry and used all '89 wiring harnesses. Then he spent hours studying wiring diagrams so that he could tie the Duraspark ignition into the EEC-IV harness. We can just see him stumbling into bed, muttering, "Honey, tell me again. Why was I doing this?"

And yet, he tells other people to go ahead and attempt a similar project. "It's not that hard," says Tod. But is he serious, or does misery just love company?

So, how many cars gave their parts to turn this Capri into a Mustang? Plenty. The rear spoiler is off a '91 Mustang GT. The taillights are off an '86 GT. And the quarter glass, doors, nose, and rear bumper cover came from various '87 to '93 Mustangs. Tod and Chris Bock of Mesa, Arizona, did the bodywork after they cobbled all these parts together. Then, Engine Specialists in Phoenix shot the white enamel paint and Chris applied the blue and purple graphics.

The interior has been converted to '91 Mustang LX specs. In addition to the '91 LX dash, Tod installed a '91 LX console and '91 LX gray cloth seats. The steering wheel is still an '85 Capri model. The speakers are stock Ford items, but they broadcast tunes from a JVC sound system.

Obviously, Tod didn't want a completely stock Mustang when he set out to convert this Capri. The ride is 1-1/2 inches lower than stock in the front, thanks to KYB GR2 struts and Eibach springs, and the rear is 1-1/4 inches lower via Eibachs and KYB Gas-Adjust shocks. Tod also installed all Energy Suspension urethane bushings. For extra rigidity, Ron Fielder of Chandler, Arizona, installed a set of Global West subframe connectors, and Tod plans to have him weld in an eight-point Competition Engineering roll cage soon. He'll also add a full torque arm suspension and 12-inch brake upgrade. In the meantime, stopping power is courtesy of '89 Mustang brakes with Lincoln Mark VII calipers in front, and Raybestos brake pads. The Capri-'Stang rides on Dunlop 245/50 and 225/50ZR-16 D40M2 tires mounted on 16x7-inch Ford wheels.

The Ford parts bin and the aftermarket contributed to the successful engine swap. Tod started with a '93 351W Lightning motor and added TRW hydraulic lifters and 10.6:1 hypereutectic pistons. Michael Everett ported and polished the heads. Manley stainless steel 1.90/1.60 valves and Manley double valve springs get the message from Crane 1.72:1 roller rockers. The valvetrain is hidden by mild-looking '85 Mustang GT valve covers, while a Ford Crown Vic five-quart oil pan and pump reside on the bottom end. Tod topped off his mill with an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake manifold, Holley 650-cfm 4500 Double Pumper, and Edelbrock air cleaner. The Ford Duraspark ignition meets with little resistance from the 8mm ACCEL wires and Autolite Copper #24 plugs. The Windsor exhales through MAC 15/8 short-tube headers and a 2-1/2-inch exhaust system, with MAC H-pipe and Flowtech Terminator mufflers. Tod figures the motor makes about 350 hp at 5,000 rpm and 375 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm.

Since Tod's a shifty kind of guy, he had Engine Specialists upgrade the T5 five-speed to Z-specs using Kevlar components. Tod's left foot controls a Cobra clutch, while his right hand has a firm grasp of the Hurst Competition Plus shifter. The 8.8 rear is home to 3.55 gears.

Either Tod doesn't sleep much or he plays hooky from his sales job, because he says he finished all this work in a year. (Why it is that our projects take so much longer?) We've got to admit that he's done an impressive job in a depressingly short period of time. But we'd never suggest that next time he just go out and buy a Mustang if that's what he really wants. That would take all the fun out of the project car process. And besides, Tod gets a real kick out of getting pulled over by cops who run his plates and can't believe they're looking at an '85 Capri.