Zakspeed Capri Turbo | DRM Championship, 1978 – 1981 | 1.4L – 495bhp
For the 1978 season of the German DRM Championship, Ford of Cologne appointed Zakspeed to develop a purpose built racer based on the new Capri. The DRM Championship had recently adapted Group 5 regulations to their series, with two classes of cars: Division 1 for over displacements exceeding 2 liters and Division 2 for cars with engines smaller than 2 liters. The Zakspeed Capri was developed for Division two and was indeed based on the production Capri, but very few parts made it into the race car.
The roofline, glass and radiator grill were the only parts that were used from the original Capri. Eighty meters of aluminum tubing were used to build a space frame chassis that included built in air jacks. The engineers made use of composites and alloys throughout the car and used kevlar for the body panels to keep the weight under an impressive 800kg (1764lbs).
The brakes, front McPherson struts and solid rear axle were based on the proven, German-built Ford Capri RS3100 racer. Further borrowing from the RS3100, the radiators were relocated to the front of the rear wheel wells, angled and bent for fitment and surface area maximization. The Zakspeed Capri had 4 piston cockpit-adjustable vented discs at all four corners. The brakes were surrounded by stunning BBS wheels, 16x10 in the front and 19x12.5 in the rear, wrapped in Goodyear rubber.
The 4-cylinder engine, although only displacing 1.426L, put out an astonishing 495 brake horsepower by 1981 after continued development. That’s a staggering 347 bhp per liter, and the engine also made nearly 300 ft lbs of torque at 7500rpm. The power was fed through a Getrag 5-speed manual transmission and applied to the wheels through a live axle. Even with the distinctive aero, massive front splitter and rear wing the Zakspeed Capri could reach a top speed of 186 miles per hour.
In it’s debut at the Hockenheim circuit in 1978 driver Hans Heyer put the car on pole position. However, reliability woes plagued the car and it did not see a victory until the final race of the season at Nürburgring. The Zakspeed Capris saw great success in 1980 and in 1981 driver Klaus Ludwig absolutely dominated the grid. Ludwig took an amazing 13 out of 13 pole positions, 10 wins and a second place finish with 2 retires due to mechanical failure. The Capri was raced against newer prototypes for a couple more years amidst division changes and didn’t see the type of success it achieved in the 1981 season. However, the car endures as one of the most formidable GT racers ever built. Recently, an original Zakspeed Capri has been meticulously restored by Zakspeed and was featured at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of speed, piloted by Klaus Ludwig himself, as pictured above.