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The Ford Capri Laser Page

Bodywork Restoration (2001)

The Capri had rusted in all the usual places and required some major attention to the bodywork.  Fortunately the underside was well-protected with waxoyl and was in tip top condition.

The plan was to locate a local craftsman who could take care of the Capri.  I wanted a full restoration including two new wings, repairs to the rear wheel arches and a full respray in the original diamond white colour.

I was introduced to Terry through a mate of a mate in my local pub.  He is a panel beater by trade and had his own workshop facility at home where he carried out work for people.  He had already restored a MK1 Capri and had some photos to show.  We spent ages discussing exactly what he was going to do and how much he wanted paying.  It is very important to have a clear understanding of what you are going to get for your money!  We agreed a job lot price of £1500 which included the cost of new panels.

Terry is a busy guy and I had to wait almost two months before he was ready.  By this time it was late summer 2001.  I drove up to his place about fifteen miles away and left the car with him.  It was going to take up to two months to complete because Terry only did these kind of jobs in his spare time.

There were certain things that I agreed to source for Terry while he was working on the Capri.  These included two new bumpers, full set of decals (from PJG graphics), engine bay decals (from Mick Ward at MWR Capri), and a new windscreen (the old one cracked as Terry removed it).

Terry had the entire car stripped within two weeks.  Literally everything came out: all trim and glass (apart from the rear window which is bonded in), mirrors, sunroof (adjusted to stop scratching).  In addition to this the doors, bonnet and tailgate were removed to be prepared and sprayed off the car.

Just as Terry had warned me several surprises were revealed.  Once the front wings had been removed it was clear that there was considerable rot, especially on the drivers side inner wing.  In fact the entire headlamp bowl had crumbled into a pile of rust and the top of the inner wing was peppered with holes.  At least the suspension mounts were OK.

Both sides of the front scuttle panel below the windscreen had been poorly repaired and botched with filler.  This was because the drain channels had blocked causing water to accumulate.

The rear wheel arches were also in much worse condition than I had expected.  Again these had been poorly repaired at some point and were now crumbling with rust along the seam.

I went to have a look at the Capri at this point and was quite shocked at what a mess it appeared to be in.  Terry was busy welding in repair sections to the drivers side inner wing.  He assured me that it would not be noticable by the time he had finished.

To get the doors off properly meant that Terry had had to pull most of the dashboard apart.  At this point we realised that after years of being in the sun the top of the dashboard was badly cracked and looked a right mess.  This is a very common problem on Capris and good dashboards are next to impossible to get hold of.  Terry knew someone who could mend (plastic welding) them but it was going to be very expensive.  I told him to wait until I had had chance to look around.

The fitting of the new wings was very tricky.  They were pattern wings as geniune Ford are very scarce and very expensive.  The problem is that they often don't fit all that well (indeed Terry had to cut and fettle to get them straight) but also the metal finish is not brilliant. Terry explained that Ford would have used a top-of-the-range press to make the panels originally.  Pattern parts are produced on much more inferior presses which cause the metal to ripple and distort.  Indeed if you close your eyes and rub your finger down the top of the wing you can clearly feel ripples in the metal.

Terry knew that the wings would look rubbish unless he first skimmed them with filler to make sure they were absolutely smooth.  This is done by applying a very thin layer of filler (0.5mm) over the metal and then sanding it perfectly smooth.  In this way you get nice looking wings.  In the end the new wings fitted perfectly and the gaps around the doors and bonnet were uniform.  Note that you must always fit wings with the doors in place - in our case temporarily refitted.

Having seen all the problems that Terry had to overcome to get the pattern parts to fit I would not recommend that DIY amateurs try doing this job.

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