Historic racer Mike Whitaker is the latest owner of a car that has had a busy life. After Spice used it in 1979-1980, chassis CC10 (named after preparers CC Racing Developments) found its way to Brian Chatfield. He planned to race it in Group A – Group 1’s replacement – but moved to Modified Saloon racing when it became apparent the Capri was no longer competitive. Next owner Colin Woodcock also raced it in Mod Saloons so that, by the time it arrived with Capri aficionado Dave Thomas, it had sprouted various appendages.
The next owner, period racer Martin Thomas, was key. “Martin started buying old Group 1 cars when they were worth £15-25,000, including the Capri,” explains Whitaker, who paid rather more for it (over £90,000) at last year’s Silverstone Classic auction. “It was a risk-free bet.”
Thomas started to restore the car as Group 1 racing gained momentum, helped by the Gerry Marshall Trophy headlining the Goodwood Members’ Meetings. Once the glass fibre wheelarches and other Mod Saloons paraphernalia had been removed, the original Spice machine started to reappear, including the red paintwork.
“Originally Martin was going to get it ready for last year’s Members’ Meeting, but he didn’t make it,” adds Whitaker. “He’d got two Rovers as well and decided the Spice Capri would sell. But he returned it to its Group 1 glory.”
Nevertheless, Whitaker decided to get CC10 taken apart and put back together by Nigel Reuben Racing, complete with Ric Wood-prepared V6: “Despite buying a restored car, I handed it to Nigel and got him to strip it down and completely rebuild it because I want 10 years out of it.”
The Spice cars were always a little special and there were a few giveaways – like the non-standard centre console – that confirmed it was genuine and the end result is spectacular. “It’s lovely to see it,” says Spice as he arrives at an early March Goodwood test day to be reunited with his old racer.
But it’s not Spice who is going to drive it. Andrew Jordan, 2013 BTCC champion and active historic racer, is on hand to give Autocar an insight into what a 35-year-old touring car feels like. He’ll be campaigning a front-wheel-drive Motorbase Ford Focus in the BTCC this year, a car quite removed from the rear-wheel-drive Capri, but he appreciates the history.
“I knew about Gordon Spice and his cars,” says the 26-year-old. “For me, you’ve got Super Touring [of the 1990s] and the other iconic touring car era is the Capris and Rovers – Group 1. They look amazing and sound awesome.”
Before he gets his chance, though, father and experienced racer Mike Jordan, who is sharing the car at the Members’ Meeting with Whitaker, takes it out for a brief shake down. “Do you want to sell it? It’s a delight to drive,” are Jordan Sr’s encouraging words as he brings the car back. And then the heavens open.