Wayne Cook
December 1, 2009
Photos By: Jim Smart

The '79-'86 generation of Capri's are unique in that this was the only time the Capri was ever offered with a V-8 engine. During this period, the Capri was based on the same Fox platform as the Mustang and the two cars had much in common. The car you see here is owned by Casey Kolder of Freedom, Pennsylvania, and was first brought into the Kolder family when it was purchased by Casey's older brother in 1989 for the modest sum of $900. At that time it was an overly tired four-cylinder transportation special with a four-speed manual transmission. Before too long the older brother tossed the four-cylinder engine and manual transmission and a 5.0L V-8 and C4 automatic transmission package found its way between the front rails. It was an enormous performance and fun factor improvement. Thusly refreshed and repowered, the car served as a daily driver until Casey bought the Capri from his brother the next year. It was then that the more serious performance modifications began to happen.

Casey remembers very well his father doing a complete restoration on a '67 Mustang. His father's project addressed every aspect of vehicle restoration, including paint and body, engine, suspension, and interior. When the time came to move on his Capri refurbishment he just followed his father's example. He felt motivated when he remembered the excellent result on his dad's Mustang and did much of the work on this Capri project by himself over the course of the five year project. The Capri was completely refreshed in the engine bay, transformed by a new coat of paint, and the interior upgraded with a set of Mustang bucket seats and new upholstery throughout.

Casey is a machinist by trade and he had interesting plans for the mechanicals in the car. He understood that the fastest and most economical way to create a substantial horsepower gain was to increase displacement. Consequently, the first thing he did was to ditch the short deck architecture in the quest for additional room inside the engine. It was not a lot of extra effort to swap the taller-decked Windsor into the engine bay and when the 351 was punched 0.040-inch oversize and equipped with a stroker crankshaft, the displacement powering the Capri was opened up to more than 400ci (410 cubes to be exact). Next, to complete the exterior allure, was a complete Raven Black paintjob and some performance orientated wheels and tires.

When the whole package went together, Casey's careful planning and engine component choices paid off with a fast and well-balanced combination. With more than 400ci of displacement, the engine doesn't need a huge cam and 7,000 rpm to make good power. To keep the officials happy at the racetrack an eight-point roll-cage was installed to during the restoration. It took a while to get things sorted out, but now Casey has the Capri running consistent quarter-mile times in the 12.40 range at 117 miles per hour. He's also been working on his 60-foot times and is running in the 2.35 range and improving. The end result is a rig that Casey is pleased with and we can see why. The look is much different than a Mustang and in this Capri, Casey has a car that runs smoothly and behaves in traffic but will also crank out consistent 12-second runs with a mash of the go pedal. It's hardly fair to ask for more.

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Four-Eye Flyer
Casey Kolder's '79 Mercury Capri

The Details
Engine

  • 351 Windsor block
  • 4.040-inch bore
  • 3.500-inch stroke
  • Scat 4.00-inch stroker steel crankshaft
  • 410ci displacement
  • Scat I-beam forged steel connecting rods
  • JE forged aluminum pistons
  • 10.0:1 compression ratio
  • World Products Victor Sr. cast iron cylinder heads
  • 2.02-inch intake valves 1.60-inch exhaust valves
  • 64cc combustion chamber volume
  • 200cc intake runner volume
  • Eagle flat tappet camshaft, 0.541 valve lift, 242/245 duration at 0.050, 106 intake centerline
  • Comp Cams 1.6:1 roller-rockers
  • Edelbrock Victor Jr. aluminum intake manifold
  • Holley 750cfm four-barrel carburetor
  • MSD Distributor
  • MSD 6AL ignition
  • 496hp/529tq
  • Engine constructed by Jim Evanuik Racing Engines of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Transmission

  • C4 three-speed automatic
  • TCI 3,500 rpm stall 10-inch torque converter
  • TCI shift improvement kit
  • Hurst Quarter Stick shifter

Rearend

  • 8.8-inch housing
  • Traction-Lok differential
  • Ford Racing 3.73 gears
  • 28-spline axles

Exhaust

  • Kook's full-length headers
  • 1 7/8-inch primary tubes, 3 1/2-inch collectors
  • 3-inch exhaust system
  • Flowmaster mufflers

Suspension

  • Front: Stock control arms, KYB Struts
  • Rear: Stock upper control arms, KYB Gas-A-Just shocks, South Side Machine lift bars, subframe connectors

Brakes

  • Front: Stock 10-inch disc, single piston caliper
  • Rear: Stock 9-inch drum

Wheels

  • Front: Weld polished Draglite, 15x6, 3 1/2-inch backspacing
  • Rear: Weld polished Draglite, 15x8, 5 1/2-inch backspacing

Tires

  • Front: BFGoodrich Comp T/A, P225/55R15
  • Rear: BFGoodrich Comp T/A, P255/60R15

Interior

  • Auto Custom Carpets carpet kit, custom upholstered '85 Mustang bucket seats, Grant wheel, Auto Meter gauges for oil and water, power windows, power locks, tilt steering column

Exterior

  • PPG Raven Black paint by Tom and Bills Auto Body of Freedom, Pennsylvania, Maier Racing fiberglass cowl hood, '91 Mustang door assemblies