2014 - A livelong love affair with the Ford Capri
A livelong love affair with the Ford Capri
Date: July, 2014
Kamo’s Lawrence and Helen Smithson’s lifetime love affair with Ford Capris will be celebrated at CRC Speedshow, New Zealand’s biggest automotive and motorsport event being held in Auckland this weekend.
The Smithson’s blue-mink coloured 1972 Ford Capri will be on display in the Classic Cover Insurance Classic Show, a new classic show which is part of the eighth edition of CRC Speedshow at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds over the weekend of 19 and 20 July.
Lawrence Smithson says the story of their journey to CRC Speedshow started almost 50 years ago, in 1966 when he started his motor mechanic apprenticeship with the New Zealand Post Office in Greymouth. During the late 1960s he built a few cars, such as Anglias, for local hill climbs and speed events. The 64 year old says his desire to own a Ford Capri became a reality in 1972. Lawrence and his then fiancée, Helen, bought a 1969 Capri 2000cc for local car trials and hill climbs. That car was sold and the business of getting married, shifting to Whangarei to work for Refining New Zealand and many years raising a family meant other things in life took priority over classic cars.
However good memories of those times with the Capri were never forgotten and Lawrence and Helen rekindled their Capri love affair.
“Eight years ago I wanted a project to do and decided to build a classic car. My wife, Helen, suggested doing up a Capri – we both felt it would be great to restore one exactly like we had when we were young,” says Smithson.
After two years of looking, in 2008 he finally found the correct model and with the right specifications.
“But the car was fairly rough, even though it had only done 68,000 miles (109,435km). The work took three years and every part of the car required rebuilding. The body was stripped to bare metal and each component was either replaced or rebuilt.
“My best memory yet was taking Helen for the first ride after finishing the rebuild – it was like going down memory lane,” he says.
Originally this car was to be an everyday driver but part way through the work, Smithson changed his mind, deciding that nothing but a total rebuild would do. He wanted the car back to as close as possible to original condition. Rebuilding the entire car captivated him, but for a perfect finish, he called on professional expertise for the panel and paint work. Sourcing of genuine parts for the car has been a fascinating experience, even though Smithson has been involved with cars since he was 15 years old.
“I have had to buy parts from Germany, Cyprus, USA, England, Australia, Thailand, and Canada. There have been long trips around New Zealand sourcing bits and pieces, and I’ve met some great people.”
Smithson is a member of the New Zealand Ford Capri Club and the Whangarei Classic and Sports Car Club. A proud moment for the couple was when the Capri attended an All Ford Day at Mount Maunganui earlier this year.
“There were 380 beautiful cars on display and our Capri won the best trophy in the British European Car category, and came second only to the show’s Best of the Best.”
At Capri Club meets, Smithson’s car has won several awards, including people’s choice, best engineered, best engine bay, and best paint job.
“This car is not just a show car. It will be driven to club events and occasionally on nice days,” he says with a smile. “Helen and I also have another Ford Capri a MK1 3000cc GXL, which I use for driving around.”