The Story: An American Classic in Brightlingsea

Brightlingsea is a coastal town on the mouth of River Colne with approximately 14,000 inhabitants. Brightlingsea has evolved from a shipbuilding and fishing community into a Dormitory town for Colchester. Known amongst tourists for its Bateman’s Tower, All Saints’ Church and Jacobs hall, the town once served as the limb to the head port of Sandwich which was a part of the confederation of the Cinque Ports.

Getting old is compulsory if you’re lucky, Growing up is optional
— Matt Cooke


Named after an island in the Bay of Naples, Capri was a Full-size luxury car sold by the Lincoln division of the ford motor company between 1952 to 1959. Initially introduced as a premium trim stand-alone model to the 2-door Cosmopolitan, it later replaced the Cosmopolitan as the standard product line.

Known for their mechanical excellence, Ford’s purchase of the Lincoln Motor company in 1922 and under the direction of Edsel Ford was turned into style leaders. Bill Schmidt’s design and a sweeping performance in the stock class in Mexico’s La Carrera Pan Americana road race during 1952 and 1953 along with grabbing the first and second spot in 1954 validating Lincoln’s claim of ‘Elegance with power’.


The car was introduced with a Flathead V8 variant in 1952 churning around 154hp before Lincoln introduced the Y-Block V8 that offered a greater displacement and a higher compression that before along with a 3-speed turbo drive auto transmission and air-conditioning. On top of that it was one of the first cars to offer Automatic Headlight dimmer as optional equipment adding to the driving demeanor of the car and being tolled as ‘’Pullman of the Highway’’ and ‘‘Nearest sensation to flying’’ in one period review.


The Car



Sold alongside a yellow Capri with black roof as a spares car, the Canterbury Green Capri is shipped to Chickasaw, Oklahoma to get the restoration started. With an estimated $2-2.5k already spend of which $1000 on the interiors: Matt wasn’t pleased with the lack of progress as the restorer initially began working on the interiors first! The car is moved to Connecticut within 2 weeks and Matt’s friend is given the task to get the car up and running. An ex race car mechanic having built cars like the Cobras and Mustang GT350’s, Steve’s the perfect guy for such a task. Inspired by Charlie Ryan’s Hotrod Lincoln, Matt’s had a powerful motor in mind for ‘‘LeadBelly’’ and with a new plan in place to make the car a little lighter with a small block ford motor for that extra umph. The original 317Y V8 motor with GM 4 speed auto is sold to a team of restorers getting enough money to buy a ’77 Donor Mercury Cougar for its 351 Winsor motor and C4 auto transmission.



With a set of front discs, power brakes and full stainless steel exhaust with single mufflers in the system churning great sound, the car is on the road by 1997 and is registered in the states before being shipped to London in 2000 and locked up in Balham as the owner gets busy with life and work. The car is recommissioned to a friend in Croydon to prepare it for the UK MOT before being registered in 2007. Leadbelly was taken off the road with the intentions of Kustom work and hopping up the motor.



The next step in the process is to install the original 1960’s finned aluminum covers and finned alloy air intake along with a set of GT40p heads rebuilt for the 351 Winsor Motor by Thumper (Florida) along with either a B or E van camshaft to match with thumper’s built and Matt’s stall converter, a 650cubic feet per minute 4 barrel carburetor and an Edelbrock air gap inlet manifold, all of which will boost the output to around 350-400hp.

But even as it, is it will turn heads, cruise well at 90 giving about 20 MPG and seat 6 slim Europeans or 4 larger wider Americans.
— Matt Cooke