If I have to say just one name, Caroll Shelby, I am almost certain you would know who I am talking about, but if I had to say Basil Green, well, the story would be completely different. So different in fact that you may mistake the name for the Ford & Mazda dealership based in Edenvale, Johannesburg.
Now what I won’t do is go on about this remarkable man, because as far as I understand, he doesn’t like talking about his cars, or V8’s or both. I might also look like a complete idiot when I do actually get an opportunity to talk to him, so I decided it best to not embarrass myself.
This Capri shows exactly what is wrong with our generation of motoring enthusiasts
Regardless of my insecurities, there is no way in this little world you can ignore his remarkable cars, and although there’s quite a range of some of his machines, I will be focusing on one of my favorites, the Ford Capri Mk1 Perana.
While some of the stats shows 0-100km/h: 6.7 seconds (7.0 for automatic) and a top speed of 228 km/h it clearly shows this early 70’ Capri was no slouch, and viewing it in perspective, the 1990 Nissan Skyline 3.0 topped out at 202. The 1995 E36 BMW M3 was 1.3 seconds quicker, and topped out at 250km/h. Both the latter cars are considered fast, and both these cars were on the high side of the price chart.
The Capri Perana sold for a little over R 4400, or roughly just under R 200,000 in today’s money (Don’t take my up on that, I failed maths.) and it offered so much more than just brute, unrefined power. It was designed by Phillip T. Clark, the same guy who designed the Mustang. It was a huge success, and the vast number of engine options it had available for the different European markets it was targeting, made the Capri affordable. It was a brilliant little pony car, built for a market that couldn’t get the Mustang.
What makes the Perana edition so special is the fact that it is a locally produced car. While the Mk1 Perana line-up initially broke the South African market with a V6, Basil Green had to quickly figure out how to boost the power as Ford started offering the essex V6 engine from 1970 onward. He opted for a tuned Windsor V8, making this model scarily fast.It also had only two paint schemes. Yellow with black stripes (above) or “Piri Piri” red. The original V6 Perana only sold 20 models.
In all honesty, I doubt that an unskilled, ham fisted guy like me, and a lot of us for that matter, will be able to hold this little pony in line. Yes, it is fast, and most likely very agile, but remember, radial ply tires was considered top of the line technology back then. Take those tires, add a live rear axle to the mix, and you will get something that will try to kill you. It was the 70’s after all, an airbag was a plastic bag full of air. A roll cage was something used in racing cars, and the term “crumple zones” could be mistaken for zones in a plate where breadcrumbs would fall.
This Capri shows exactly what is wrong with our generation of motoring enthusiasts. We have nanny aids that keeps the car in line, computer wizardry that get the insane amount of power to the wheels, and keeps it there. We have airbags and hi-tech safety gadgets that let us, in most cases, walk away from a crash. All these things are brilliant, and needed, but it takes away the responsibility that comes with driving fast, it takes away the sense of terror and spoils the rush of pure adrenaline.
That is why I love this car. It oozes with passion, it is filled with character, it’s hellishly scary, and when It comes to the Perana, it is proudly South African.