'84 Mercury Capri - Fox Body Project
1984 Mercury Capri Rebuild
During the early summer of 2000 I came across a 1984 Mercury Capri in a used car lot. At the time I was in school and needed a car to get to and from school, work, and home. Fortunately, this slick looking car was conveniently within my price range of $750. The car had no rust and had a shiny light blue paint job, electric windows and lock, and a manual sunroof! It was also convenient that the car was equipped with a 2.3 L 4cylinder engine. Why is that convenient you ask? Because the 5.0 V8 would have got me into a lot more trouble.
However, over the year the poor car has undergone some severe abuse from the elements and neglect. (Life happened and I put my family and kids before my little car's needs.) This is all about to change. I will be giving my '84 Mercury Capri a much needed facelift. The car will be tore down as far as it can go and rebuilt from the ground up with all new parts where necessary.
This lens will be updated periodically to display any and all progress with the rebuild so be sure to check back regularly.Or you could check out the car on
The Starting Point
Ford 2.3L 4Cyl.
Intentions of the Rebuild
What is the ultimate goal?
Every person that has ever built a hot-rod or rebuilt an automobile is well aware of the myriad of potential possibilities and combinations that can be applied. Therefore it is relatively important to have a general project goal set before you begin so that you can focus your time, energy, and more importantly money in the direction that it needs to go. Goals can range from just throwing together stock parts and making the automobile move to a complete vintage restore, and even unique hot-rod customization.
For the '84 Mercury Capri - Fox Body Project, my father and I are working together to tear-down and rebuild the car. Between the two of us we have decided to set the bar relatively high. Therefore, the goal of this project is to increase the Horsepower to 300+ in attempt to make the car do a wheelie!
The '84 Capri Project Goal!
300 + Horsepower and a Wheelie
The Transplant Ford 302 Small Block
Ford 302 Engine ID Decal
The Ford Small Block Transplant
Acquisition of the ford 302
In my endeavors of working on a local racetrack safety crew, I was able to make quite a few connections that where interested in helping guide me through my rebuild process. Conveniently, one of my connections had quite a few cars in his back fields with quite a bit of vegetation growing up and around them. One of the vehicles was a 1981 Ford F-250 with approximately 80,000 miles on it! The gentleman (Ed) who owned the truck was just a few weeks away from stripping the truck down to turn it into a makeshift trailer when I asked about it. I believed that he was very reasonable when he offered to sell me the Ford 302 engine and C6 transmission (with overdrive!) for only $300. Ed was also so kind as to make sure that I had the motor mounts, transmission linkages, drive shaft, wiring harness, hoses, and radiator.
Now, I have no intention of using old hoses, radiators, or even the transmission for that matter. Instead, I plan on upgrading almost all of the original components for this project. Lets take a look at some of the engine specs as it sits.
*Base displacement of 360
*Engine Type F
*Double notched piston heads
*8.1:1 Compression Ratio
84 Capri Project Requirements - A Handy Tool
For myself and anyone else out there that is interested in rebuilding a 80's Fox body Mustang or Capri using a Ford Pickup motor, it is a no brainier that the Chilton's Repair Manual is a must!
Foxbody Capri 4Cyl to v8 Engine Swap
Tearing out the old
With some help from my dad, we spent about three-and-a-half hours tearing out the old 2.3L 4Cyl from the '84 Capri. The tear down was a lot easier that it might seem. I started by removing all of the wiring harness and cables connected to the engine itself. Later we jacked up the front of the car and threw some jack stands under it for support. We then removed the motor mounts and bellhousing bolts that attach the transmission to the engine.
Unfortunately, there was one piece of the motor that did give us some trouble before we could pull the motor. The exhaust pipe. My dad suggested that I remove each section of the pipe individually but I figured that I would no longer need the pipe for the 302. So, I made short work of the pipe with a . Chicago reciprocating saw
The last step before pulling the motor was to set a bucket under the lower radiator hose and empty out the antifreeze. With all of the electrical and hoses disconnected and connecting bolts removed, we pushed up the Pittsburg Automotive engine hoist and pulled the motor.
The next step for me, was to verify and/or remove the stock transmission. Although I can't think of anyone that would suggest keeping the transmission, I have heard that it can be done so long as the tranny is not German and that a bellhousing will fit it. Regardless, my '84 Capri will need a little strength in the tranny department so my old 4-speed had to be removed. Coincidentally, the stock transmission was German so I would have had to replace it anyway. I will be replacing the stock transmission with an SROD 4-speed transmission with Overdrive from an '80s Ford F150 or F250. Although it is important to make sure that the driveshaft is the appropriate length, any transmission can be made to fit with a big enough hammer and metal cutters.
A Gearhead's Best Friend
Fore those of you interested in doing engine swaps or upgrades on a tight budget your best friend in your local Pick-A-Part yard. These yards, unlike formal scrap/salvage yards, allow you to walk the yard find what you need and pull it yourself. Another benefit to Pick-A-Part yards it that the price of parts is generally significantly more reasonable. Especially if you are on a tight budget. For this Project I am looking to keep the price under $5,000!
I recently picked up a Steering knuckle, Oil Pan, Front Bumper Cover, Driver-Side-Door(a solid one!), & a driver side mirror for under $100!!
If you do your homework, you would find that the Factory Direct Price of any one of these item alone costs more than $100.
That means I got 5for the price of 1!
Other things that I looked into while I was there was a 1992, 4-speed w/overdrive transmission with a hydraulic clutch setup in a Ford F-150 that would fit. Although the hydraulic clutch prevented me from pulling it at the time, I may still go back and pull it for myself as hydraulic clutch transmissions seem to be a more suitable upgrade for the additional power. That...and it is getting increasingly more difficult to find a late-model transmission with a cable clutch setup. Turns out they made a pretty penny when the price of steel went from $30 per ton to $250 per ton. Who knew!
'84 Capri Project - Shining it up
Painting the Doghouse
When it comes to paying for a rebuild like this foxbody Capri build-up it goes without saying that it is essential to add a splash of color to the inside as well as the outside. With this particular Capri project we will be using some simple colors from Rust-Oleum. As you can see, after doing a little shock-tower work, the doghouse was painted with Rust-Oleum's Ford Blue-high temp engine enamel.
Going from Street to Sweet!
'84 Mercury Capri Upgrade Parts
Conveniently Edelbrock makes upgrading my little 302 5.0 V8 a breeze. Below is a list of all the parts I will be getting from Edelbrock for my Capri Project.
Elelbrock Engine Component
Perf. RPM Hyd.Flat Tappet Cam & Lifters
Timing Cover Gasket and Seal Set
Cylinder Head Gasket Set
RPM Air-Gap 302 Intake Manifold
Intake Manifold Bolt Kit
Cylinder Head Bolt Set
Performer-Link Timing Set
Performer RPM Cylinder Heads
However, there are a few pieces of the the puzzle that I still need to consider when purchasing all of the parts I'll need. These little trinkets will make all the difference. Such items will include filters, fluid, sealers, and plumbing.
'84 Capri Body Repair
Fixing Fenders & Doors
For anybody that has a late model car like this one, and lives in the norther hemisphere, you are likely no stranger to the damage that can be done to your car by the weather. For this little ride there are a few small holes in the fender. However the doors seem to be rusted out from the rocker-panels down. The solution to these types of body problems are quite simple.
You can either
(1) Leave them the way they are (bad move)
(2) Buy new parts
(3) or, like me, spend a few weekends in the garage with * The Mad Scientist fabricating and mending the hell out of everything.
(Note:not everyone has access to The Mad Scientist like myself)
*The Mad Scientist a.k.a. Dad
Regardless, after fixing up the outside we will need to move on to the inside.
Ah Crap! something is telling me this is going to cost more.
Sooner or later the seats and carpet will need to be removed in order to mend any gaping holes hiding in the floorboard. This may also require removing any/all interior trim as well (with the exception of the dash components).
Recruiting Some Help - Body work and Sanding
For those of you that may not already know, on several automotive television shows multiple teams of people are used in order to pull off some television magic. For instance, the host of the show may be considered Team A whereas a completely different group of individuals may be Team B. Now, Team A may be responsible for communicating to television viewers and promoting specific products. However, Team B is usually the muscle behind what actually gets done to the automobile-be it sanding, welding, painting, etc. etc.
Here is a quick video on how I recruited my B Team. However, they did not seem to want to work for very long.
Reusing the Old 4 Cylinder Transmission Behind A 302
Will it work?
During these types of Garage rebuilds, several people have wanted to attempt to save money by reusing the transmission bolted up behind their 4Cyl. When it comes to this kind of decision there is one general question that usually arises.
"Will a mercury Capri 4 cylinder four speed mate up to a 302 v-8?" or "Can I use the four cylinder tranny on a 302 when I swap it into a Capri?"
The answer to this question is a little less that straight forward. The short answer is NO. No, the 4 cylinder bolt pattern on the block and transmission housing will not bolt up to a Ford 302 block. However, it is not too uncommon to find a transmission bolted behind a 4 cylinder that is capable of being bolted to a Ford 302 block.
For instance, some 4 cylinder motors have T5 and C4 transmissions bolted behind them. In this case, the T5 can be bolted to the Ford 302 block only if the correct Bell Housing and input shaft are replaced (flywheel, clutch plate, etc.). The C4 is another story all together. Some C4 transmission come with removable Bell Housings and some do not. If the C4 transmission comes with a removable bell housing, you would be able to simply swap the bell housing and bolt it up.
Generally these types of questions come from young builders or simply someone with little knowledge of engines and transmissions. It is important to note that although the transmissions behind some foxbody 4 cylinders can be placed behind a Ford 302, it is not a good idea. These transmission are not designed to withstand the significantly increased amount of horsepower output produced by a 302. For anyone who has been behind the wheel of stock 302 before the answer is really a no brainer. When it comes to transmissions, cross check your numbers and make sure that you get one that will be capable of handling the abuse.
My Mercury's House of Torque
Picking the right tranny for the '84 foxbody project
When it comes to selecting the right transmission for foxbody Capris and Mustangs alike there are several options. If you are lucky you may already have a handy dandy T5 transmission that is bolted to your 302 block. If not here are the other options available.
1979-1983 = 4 Spd.
1983-1984 = 5 Spd.
1979-1983 = 4 Spd.
1983-1984 = 5 Spd.
These are all of the vehicles that have transmission that will fit into a foxbody Capri or Mustang without heavy modifications.
Now if you are looking to do some modifications to include a slightly more durable transmission there are a few choices.
T5 - By using a standard T5 Transmission you can keep everything looking stock and simply bolt it in. However, most T5 transmissions are rated at 300 pounds of torque or less. That means if your motor exceeds 300HP and you plan on dropping the clutch you might as well start looking into replacement parts.
The C4 - The C4 transmission is probably the most popular transmission for these types of cars. This is mainly due to the amount of punishment they can endure. Although a C4 transmission is automatic, they are significantly more durable than their manual counterpart-the T5.
T56 - The T56 Transmission is a slightly more modified version of the T5. In addition to being more durable, the T56 requires some slight tunnel modifications and weighs about 15 pounds more than the T5.
Tremec TKO - The TKO transmission is heavily fortified gearbox that can take a serious pounding. Similar to the T56, the TKO manual transmission will require some tunnel modifications, but it weighs 25 pounds more than the T5.
For my 1984 Foxbody Capri project I decided to keep the light weight T5 Transmission. The reasons behind this decision are that the T5 is easily install (no modifications), relatively easy to repair, and it gives me more control when driving.
T5 Transmission Rebuild
Rebuilding the T5 Transmission
Over the past few months I have had two failed attempts at finding just the right transmission that will fit in my little foxbody Carpi with having to heavily modify the tunnel or cross member support. Conveniently, through the use of a handy online tool called Craig's List I was able to find a few transmissions that would solve my size problems. However, the transmission that I came into was one that pretty well tore up after being put behind a Ford 302 that cranked out over 500 horsepower! No worries though. Although when it comes to spending money I my relatively stingy, but for this project it was in my best interest to make sure that the transmission gets rebuilt correctly the first time so that I can avoid having to take it off later down the line.
For this rebuild I had to come up with a cluster gear/counter shaft and a 3rd Gear. Unfortunately in order to replace the cluster gear/countershaft I would have to tear the whole transmission apart. With this in mind I made sure to purchase a T5 Master Rebuild Kit (containing all synchros, bushing, bearing, springs, etc.), the cluster gear, and third gear.
Taking the transmission apart only took a few hours. However, putting it back together took a little longer.
Note: For anybody that is interested in rebuilding/repairing transmissions for the first time it is in your best interest to have a pair of C-Ring Removal Pliers. These will definitely be a lifesaver. You may also need bearing compression tool as well.
Preparing the Foxbody
The real purpose of primer!
After spending a significant amount of time underneath the car welding and repairing the floorboards, replacing brake and fuel lines, and improving frame rigidity by installing some Grippi sub-frame supports, it was time to spray the exterior of the car with a little primer. Now, a common assumption to primering is that after primer comes the paint. However, this is not the case at all. The first coat of primer is actually used to show you just how noticeable those tiny or large imperfections will be when the paint is actually on the car. The Mad Scientist and I spent about an hour spraying the '84 Mercury Capri body, fenders, and hood.
"Nothing like hitting your car with a fresh coat of primer after pounding the crap out of it with a hammer for a few weeks. And we are just getting started! -The Mad Scientist
After prettying up the car with some primer it is time to wait for the car to dry. When the car is dry the primers usefulness is revealed. The primer makes all of the small imperfections in the body of the car stick out like a wart on a witches nose. With this in mind, it is time to take a pencil and circle all of the dings and dents. These are the areas that will need to be bondoed, sanded, or just generally repaired.
"If you can see it in the primer you will see it MORE in the paint!"-The Mad Scientist
If you are going all the way with your paint job (1 and done) and don't plan on doing it again in the near future, then is advisable to remove the doors and any trim before primering and painting. This step will allow you to get paint in gaps that would be unpaintable otherwise but exceptionally noticeable later on.
After the primer dries. Sand, sand, sand...Sand, sand, sand...Sand, sand, sand...I hope you get the point... and don't forget to sand!
A Garage Paint Job! - Primering and Painting the '84 Capri
Over a weekend I decided to review all of the videos take during the progress of my '84 Mercury Capri build. After a few hours of review and some tinkering on YouTube I was able to throw together a relatively long video (13 min.) of myself primering and painting my Capri. If you decide to take the time to view the video, you may notice that the videos are taken over a period of several weekends (I think 2.).
Be sure to chime in on this web page or YouTube and let me know what you think.
Heck. I think that I did alright for a first-timer. I even learned a few things and I plan on doing a few touch-ups in the near future.
Getting Bored of all that Foxbody Sanding?
Motivation On The Way!
Sand, sand, sand...Sand, sand, sand...Sand, sand, sand...Holy crap this is a lot of sanding for a car that has more glass than surface area!
After a few weeks of working the body after the primer, it may get to be a little boring. For The Mad Scientist and I, it felt as though we could work the body all day and when we were ready to close up shop for the night it looked as though we did nothing. NOOOOOoooo!
It is true, many professional car builders would agree that the primering, sanding, and body working are the most dreaded tasks when building or restoring a car. However, after several weeks of waiting for parts to arrive it was time for a little motivation. Although there was still some work that needed to be done to the body before hitting it with yet another coat of primer, it was time. Time to put the engine together.
With a little Old Ford Blue and some really shiny chrome the Engine was put together rather quickly. The most important tool for putting my 302 together was an adjustable torque wrench. So if you are building a motor and don't have one, I suggest you get one.
Regardless, now every time I walk into the garage I get to see a bright blue beast sitting on the engine stand. Not to mention all of the freed up workbench space from eliminating all of the parts boxes!
Motivation on the Way!
Ford 302 Powerplant Walk Around - Motor Motivation-Ford 302
There is just something about pictures that simply do not do this motor justice. So below is a quick video take by the Mad Scientist walking around the recently painted and semi-assembled block.
Wires and Vacuums Suck
Modifying a Fox Body Wiring Harness and Vacuum Lines
One of the biggest concerns for younger generations (like me) is how to properly modify a fox body wiring harness and vacuum lines for a street rod. The answers to these questions are highly dependent on circumstance. For instance, if you are trying to swap a four cylinder engine with a small block ford (289, 302, 351w) and attempting to keep all of the original gadgets working there should be no actual modification to the wiring harness. Instead you may find that there are a few wiring harness plugs and vacuum lines that you will not need. Again in order to determine if you do or do not need such wires or vacuum lines determines on the combination of engine and transmission.
If you are planning on using an automatic transmission you may need to have a vacuum line from the Vacuum Modulator on the transmission and attaches to the throttle valve in the valve body. This vacuum line determines when and how to shift depending on how much load is placed on the transmission at any given time. However, you will not need this particular vacuum line should you use a manual transmission because shifting would literally be in your hands. Other lines that may prove to become obsolete may be the EGR valve and its connecting vacuum lines. If you are going to remove your EGR valve it is recommended that you make sure it is legal to operate your car in the state you live in without it.
How to modify a fox body wiring harness for a street rod
When it comes down to wiring there should really be little to no modifications at all. Rather you may again find yourself not using some elements of the wiring harness depending on your application. If you are building a Stree Rod then you are likely cramming a small block ford into you fox body that is naturally aspirated (carbureted) rather than fuel injected. If this is the case and your previous motor was the highly common 2.3 L 4 cyl. found in most fox body Mustangs and Capris, then you will likely find yourself not using a few wires in the harness. Again whether you use the wires or not is dependent on the application.
For instance, if you are planning on breaking out the BFH (Big F#% Hammer) and cramming a C6 transmission into the car you may need a neutral/reverse safety switch boot that will likely not be attached to the fox body. What you will have to do is simply clip the old wires off the old boot and wire them into the appropriate one for the C6. If you are using a transmission that usually would fit the fox body application such as a C4 automatic transmission or T5 manual, you should have the appropriate wiring.
Another factor that would slightly change the wiring diagram for making a Street Rod would be the instillation of a performance carburetor. For instance, if your previous carb was electronically carbureted or had an electric choke you may need to simply push the connecting wires back up into the harness wiring cover and install the new cables that came with the carb. Other notes: when deciding to do major swaps it is ideal to makes sure that the harness is equipped to handle such components as electric fuel pumps and oxygen sensors. It is also important to use that appropriate computer and transmission combination as well if your setup is more modern. Therefore use a computer that supports a manual transmission if you are using one and use a computer that supports an automatic transmission if you are planning on using an automatic transmission.
84 Capri Project First Start - A Ground Breaking Landmark
After several hours of pounding, wrenching, tooling, painting, sanding, sanding, and more sanding the Mad Scientist and I were able to finally record the first firing of the 1984 Mercury Capri.
Below is a short video of the two of us firing the 1984 Mercury Capri for the first time. Without the aid of mufflers the sound was pretty LOUD–as you can tell by the reaction of my children at the end of the clip. I would also like to note that we were not trying to rev the engine, but the throttle seemed to have gotten stuck and the RPMs climbed quickly. So, the Mad Scientist tried to un-stick the throttle before I shut it off. No sense in blowing the motor before I achieve my intended goal.
Foxbody Road Bumps - Small issues with completion
Over the past few several months of building this car I was able to overcome several obstacles with completing the car. However, after finally being able to hear the car run I was struck with yet two more issues. To my dismay I came to discover that my fuel pump stopped working shortly after I was able to start my car for the first time. Furthermore, the wee, following my first fire I found that my rebuild starter was drawing a dead short.
Well all there is to do is replace the fuel pump and starter. So that is just what I intend to do. In an attempt to stay uniform with other parts on the car (and against my better judgement due to customer reviews) I went ahead and purchased a stock replacement Edelbrock Fuel pump. I also decided to shell out a little extra money for a mini High torque starter for the engine as well. Hopefully the adjustable block placement for the starter will better clear the long-tube headers on the car seeing as replacing the starter requires removing the engine. It is something that I am not to thrilled to do a second time.
Fixing the '84 Capri's Front Bumper Clip - Fixing the Front End
I have been tackling this car project with little actual knowledge of how to build/repair cars outside of watching my father and television hosts fix cars. So if you happen to see anything that you have more experience in that needs correcting feel free to point it out. However, most everything I have written about I have first-hand knowledge of. If you would like to add to anything you can do that too. Just post it in the comment box, and I will make sure that it is added.
Periodically I will be adding short videos of the '84 Mercury Capri being worked on that include body work, primer, painting, engine work, first fire, and hopefully Dyno testing and Drag launching.
If you thought my '84 Capri was interesting be sure to check out the Mad Scientist's1970 Ford Maverick page as well.