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.
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.