It is Thursday, February 21st, 1974. Harold Wilson is about to suceed Edward Heath and commence his second spell as British Prime Minister, the leather-clad Suzi Quatro tops the charts with 'Devil Gate Drive' and Leeds United are on their way to winning the old Division One title.
The date also sees a Sebring Red Ford Capri 1.6XL, leave the Parkway Ford showroom in Dorset. Thirty-three years later, XJT 115M is with her sixth registered owner, has covered 73,000 miles and still drives and looks beautiful.
I was a week short of my seventh birthday on the day she hit the road and was even at that age, a committed Ford nut! My uncle was the manager of a Ford dealership called Browns on the Finchley Road and regularly visited us with what seemed a like a new Ford every time. I fondly remember being in complete awe of an Amber Gold Capri XLR which he arrived in once and aside from a crush on the girl next door, I had discovered young love!
Once I passed my driving test in 1984, the draw towards the Blue Oval was still as strong, but strangely circumstances dictated that I ended up with two Cortina's and no Capri. My interest remained keen and developed into serious enthusiasm around 2002 and the hunt began. I really wanted an Amber Gold Mark One pre-facelift and instead bought a Sebring Red facelift!
Finding XJT re-enforced my firm belief in fate. I had joined the Capri Mk One Register at the NEC and provided the wonderfully supportive Isabel with my 'dream find' requirements. I followed several leads through e-bay and magazines and was keen to hold out for the right one rather than buy something for the sake of buying one. One Saturday last May, I visited the Enfield Pageant of Motoring with my fellow Capri enthusiasts Eddie Hughes and Kevin Folds. The weather forecast was not great and this probably contributed to XJT and an Escort Mexico being the sole two cars showing in the Classic Ford section of the show. XJT was stood pretty much alone with her owner. The colour stood out immediately as so wonderfully typical of the cars era. Hand-on-heart, it was not a colour I adored but have to admit, I quickly fell-for. The interior of XJT is 'Saddle' (tan) and on inspection, was absolutely immaculate. The back seats looked without exaggeration, as if they had never been sat on (let alone any other back seat activities), the door cards and rear parcel shelf have never been cut for speakers. Best of all, the car was 100% original specification, something which formed the basis of my search and was probably why it took the time it did. The car came complete with full owner history file, with original bill of sale, past Mot's, original handbook etc. another factor that I'd been searching for. The car was not officially advertised as 'for sale' at the event, but on speaking to the owner James, it turned out he was looking to sell. Despite the car being great, it just didn't suit his interests and era. He was more into the big 50's Ford's with chrome and fins. Kevin gave XJT his expert approval following his unrivalled checkover (which was an education in itself) and we made haste for a cuppa before the heavens properly opened. I telephoned James that evening and the deal was done. James got the MoT done that week (the journey being only the cars second journey in twelve months) and I collected XJT from him on a beautiful summer Friday evening. My experience had began!
On leaving James in Hemel Hempstead and driving to the A41, the first thing that dawned on me was that I hadn't driven a car with wing mirrors since 1985! I switched on the original Ford radio, which was programmed into 'Capital Gold' and listened to 'Lyin Eyes' by The Eagles. This was great, all I had dreamed of. I must admit, I hadn't been prepared for the amount of looks you get driving an 'old classic' vehicle. My favourite moment of all was approaching a main roundabout and spotting a Golden Miller coach packed with OAP's seemingly returning from a day trip somewhere. The guide at the front of the coach had a microphone and pointed at me, which led to a number of friendly waves and thumbs-up.
The M25 was happily clear that evening and I would have loved to carry on driving, I was enjoying the experience so much. I felt every single bump I went over and loved every single one of them. This was proper driving to me, driving a vehicle with individuality and character, designed by someone's creativeness and not a computer.
I showed XJT last summer at a number of Southern Capri Mk One Register events. She was also shown alongside Eddie Hughes' 'Nobby's Nuts' Daytona Yellow Mk One on the Mk One Register stand at the London Classic Car Show at the Ally Pally at the end of February where XJT was recognised in the 'Best Ford' category.
XJT will be shown throughout this summer at a mixture of Surrey Capri Club and Southern Mark One Register events. She will be at Box Hill in April 07 for an Old Skool Ford meet, and at the Ace Cafe Capri Day on September 1st 07.
Specification: 1.6XL Facelift, Sebring Red with Saddle interior.
Totally original specification, Sports Wheels.
Unique suspension upgrade / special customer order.
Manufactured in November '73 making it one of the final MK1's to come off the Dagenham production line (MK 2 production commenced in December '73). Car featured in Classics magazine in January 2005.