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Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – The Ford Capri Perana

Jim Brennan December 13, 2013 Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage 16 Comments

Welcome to the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a feature in which we try and introduce you to muscle cars you may never have known about, as well as re-define what a muscle car can be. As we discovered last time, fire-breathing V-8 Muscle Cars are not the exclusive property of the States. A great example was the Chevy Firenza built in South Africa during the early 70′s. However, Ford of South Africa also had a V8 powered Muscle Car that was available to the South African Enthusiast, converted by Basil Green Motors of Johannesburg. Introducing the Ford Capri Perana.


Basil Green was the boy for performance in Johannesburg, especially as there wasn’t really a similar performance firm operating on a professional basis when Basil started, and by 1967, when the new shape Cortina had been launched (succeeding the model with the circular tail-lights segmented like an orange) Green immediately recognized the performance potential of this car. He built a prototype with a Ford V6 motor under the hood and this was so successful, he started manufacturing and selling the car. This was the BG Cortina Perana, one of the first performance South African Produced cars.

Perana BG 38-001

With the power to weight ratio of the Cortina Perana, Basil reasoned it should do even better on the race-tracks of the country, and so he decided – in 1968 – to build a racing version of the Perana that would blow off everything in sight. Basil and his workers created magic and very soon a professional racing team (Team Gunston) created motor racing history. They came third in the National Saloon car Championship of that year (1969), notching up half a dozen wins, and this after starting only halfway through the season.


Basil Green’s association with Gunston started in 1969 and continued in 1970 with the V8 Perana version of Ford’s Capri. In 1971 the Basil Green/Gunston alliance enters its third year with the Team Gunston Capri Perana V8 prepared for Argus Production Car Racing in the Transvaal.


The Capri Perana V8 is unique in that it is the only V8 Ford Capri ever officially sanctioned by Ford. It was available from all South African Ford dealers with a full Ford warranty. Ford was closely involved and Capri Peranas were built as such at the Ford plant in Port Elizabeth and were shipped minus engines and gearboxes to Basil Green Motors where the manufacture was completed. The car was based on the Mk1 Ford Capri 3000 XL. It was powered by an up-rated Ford Mustang 5 litre V8 (Windsor Small Block Ford) engine. Power was fed through a four speed close ratio Mustang ‘top loader’ gearbox to a custom limited slip rear axle derived from the Australian Ford Falcon XW rear end. Automatic transmission was an option where the Ford C4 automatic was used.


To accommodate the V8 engine’s larger sump the steering rack was changed for an inverted left hand drive rack mounted on the back of a modified front cross member. The front struts were swapped from side to side to relocate the steering arms. Remarkably the Capri Perana was only 20 pounds heavier than a standard Capri 3000. This was possible through the use of an aluminium inlet manifold and aluminium bell housing. The Capri Perana was priced at R 4450 in 1970 (The Rand and the Dollar were actually very close in value, so this was like $4,500!). Although no definitive records exist it is generally accepted that somewhere between 500 and 550 Capri Perana V8 cars were produced.


So there you have it, another South African Muscle Car, but is it really all that obscure? Does the ides of stuffing a V8 into what is generally thought of as a European Coupe make it into a Muscle Car, or is it just a 1/2 breed, neither fish nor foul as it were. I look forward to your comments.

Is the V8 Powered Ford Capri Perana the very definition of the concept of an Obscure Muscle Car, and should it be included into the Garage?

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  • cruisintime

    I would like to drive a right hand vehicle on our right hand roads. Might be fun .

    • And as a bonus, you can make money through rural route postal delivery.

    • It is fun. Passing is tricky, however.

  • skitter

    There's a great line somewhere about the Mercedes C63 Black Series handling like third-graders dreaming about muscle cars. I hope this and the Firenza beat it to the punch by four decades.

  • Mike C

    Brother's buddy had a new Capri when I was about 10. When I rode in it then I thought it shoulda had a V8

  • Van_Sarockin

    It's physically possible to shove a 351 into a Capri, and this guy was the only one who did it? Talk about having a tiger by the tail…

  • spotty

    my dream car since i was about 5 y.o. – unfortunately i grew up……way past the physical size permissible for ownership of such a vehicle.

    i'm 6'5" and found out i didn't fit into a Capri by going to buy one, folding myself into the drivers seat (i'm used to that, i don't even fit in my largish SUV particularly well), went to close the door and found my knee occupied the space where the drivers armrest wanted to be

    another childhood dream dashed against the cruel wall of reality

  • Mr Potatofoot

    I can't believe that Jim Brennan didn't find a brown example from 'brown car snugglers society'.

  • Rover1

    And what can you do with all the spare Essex V6s that are piling up while you use the V8s?
    Just put them in the Cortina MK2 that you are also selling,biggest current fitted engine the Kent 1600 OHV four…
    <img src="http://www.africanmusclecars.com/1968_cortina_perana_basil_green.gif"width="450"&gt;

    And then go and race that…
    <img src="http://www.classiccarracers.co.za/forum/images/photos/ks/Newsclip21.jpg"width="450"&gt;

  • BlackIce_GTS

    Probably-apocryphal rumour has it that the Cape Town Highway Patrol had supercharged versions.

  • Stewart

    If the definition of Muscle Car includes 'Porsche-clobbering' then the Capri Perana fits the bill.

    Here's one for sale: http://www.junkmail.co.za/motoring/classic-cars/n

  • Stéphane Dumas

    More Capri Perana on the table. 😉 Car Magazine (South Africa's counterpart of Motor Trend and Car & Driver) posted a vintage test-drive article about the Capri Perana when it was new. There was also some Granada Perana (the Euro-Granada, not the US one) made.

    Also, some fans did a trailer for a proposed documentairy in 2010 titled "The Perana story"
    [youtube 2sZVld8_99M http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sZVld8_99M youtube]

  • Hank Skelton

    Wasn't there a SA-sourced V8 Merkur also? I seem to remember them being raced in the US at some point (Trans-Am, perhaps?)

  • CruizerDodge

    My aii time favorite car is the 56 Dodge Coronet club coupe D-500, No I should say my Dream car is a 56 Dodge Coronet club coupe D-500. The 56 D-500 in its purest form was a ba ah , full tilt street leagle factory race car, AKA 50s take on all comers killer car. The D-500 was never intended to be a famly car . You bring it home take it out of the bag, open the box , put on some 10 inch cheters and putt a good coat of wax on it retune it add a tank of 104 from Sunoco , then hit woodard or Gratiot ave and kick some ass and take some names.The D-500 was not a option it was a model all by it self. This car was the every guy dream of haven. It was not a GT car like the Chrylser or DeSoto or The Plymouth Fury. There was NOT a better looking car on the road in 56 or 57. The 57 Chevy Black widow was a spin off of the 56 D500. I guess by now you have guessed that I owen one of these fire breathers.