Old-School Cool Meets New School In The Form Of James Meredith’s Capri
Following a dominant 2016 season where he scored the NMRA’s Factory Stock championship without losing a single round of competition all year, James Meredith wanted to step away from the Mustang chassis he had campaigned with great success and do something different. His Coyote-powered 2003 Mach 1 kicked butt for that entire season, but then he took 2017 off to find an eye-catching replacement as he moved up the competition ladder to a new class.
A friendship he struck up while competing against fellow Factory Stock racer Mike Bowen led Meredith down the path of unique and interesting to a car not often seen in the drag racing ranks here.
Bowen, proprietor of Powerhouse Automotive in Girard, Pennsylvania, convinced him to select one of Ford’s Capri chassis.
The Capri was manufactured between 1968 and 1986 and touted as the “European Mustang”. Based on Ford’s Cortina chassis, the Capri did not carry Ford badging and was sold specifically by the Mercury division of Ford Motor Company. These cars were manufactured in the U.K., Germany, Australia, and South Africa, with the first U.S.-trim models landing on these shores in 1970. The Capri was manufactured in U.S. trim, which required it to use a number of specific items to meet U.S. standards, like the quad round headlights, different turn signals, and side marker lights. It is not to be confused with the later-model Mercury Capri, based on the Fox Mustang chassis and produced from 1979 to 1986.
One item the Capri didn’t have is the Coyote engine that’s between the frame rails of Meredith’s machine. When he collaborated with Bowen to rescue this car from the weeds behind Bowen’s shop—where it had lain for several years after Bowen purchased it and while he decided what to do with it—the decision was made to install a power-adder and go racing. It was a simple plan: to take the engine from his Factory Stock car and put it into the Capri, outfit the cart with a roll cage and the other necessary safety gear, and drop a load of Nitrous Outlet nitrous oxide into the engine to see what it could do at the dragstrip. For this event, he was playing blocker, as teammate Daniel Pachar of Triangle Speed Shop was in a battle for the championship in Coyote Modified with Haley James.
I saw the car at the recent NMRA All Ford World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where I made a mental note to head over and chat with him. I’m a sucker for unique projects like this one. First, it’s still street-legal. Secondly, It has the original paint, original rust, and inspection sticker from 1977 still prominent in the front window. Third.. well, it’s just a glorious example of hot-rodding: a short-wheelbase chassis stuffed full of many horsepowers, electronic fuel injection, and a nitrous system to make it run 9.15 at over 145 mph in the quarter-mile.
The engine in the car is the same Gen I engine Meredith won the Factory Stock championship with; it features upgraded camshafts, one of Holley‘s EFI systems, a built C4 transmission, and the Nitrous Outlet dry nitrous system. The stock suspension has been set up to work properly on the track with a set of Menscer Motorsports/AFCO Racing shocks and Caltracs bars from Calvert Racing to control the leaf springs.
Although he hasn’t won any races yet with the car, it’s obvious from his past history that he knows how to get into the winner’s circle, so it’s only a matter of time until he dedicates his time to his racing efforts again and this mean green machine shows up at the top of the points chase. What a wild ride!