ADDICTED TO SPEED

DANKO KNEZEVIC’S FORD CAPRI IS A LITTLE MONSTER THAT CARRIES A BIG STICK

STORY KIAN HEAGNEY PHOTOS NATHAN JACOBS

EXTERIOR Danko sprayed the car himself nearly 18 years ago with the help of mates Gideon Ogley and Colin Camm, using his own custom-blended variation of a Ford EF Falcon blue to finish of the look of his Capri

ENGINE Custom turbo manifolds help the 70mm turbos squeeze in next to the stroked Windsor, and the 66mm radiator keeps the engine temps in check

THE CAR WAS SO LOUD I’D HAVE TO SHUT IT OFF AT THE TOP OF MY STREET AND ROLL INTO THE GARAGE, OTHERWISE THE NEIGHBOUR’S CROCKERY WOULD FALL OFF HIS WALLS

AS THE mastermind behind Adicted Performance, Victoria’s Danko Knezevic spends his days building high-horsepower machines to tear up drag strips and burnout pads. So it’s little surprise that his own Ford Capri happens to be a seven-second monster churning out nearly 1700hp.

It was a rather underwhelming car when Danko first got his hands on it 20-odd years ago, painted in a typical 70s brown and sporting just half the cylinder count it has today. Being the speed demon he is, Danko quickly gave the old donk the flick in favour of a 4V Cleveland, which was good for a best of 10.6 down the quarter.

“The car was so loud after the Cleveland conversion that I’d have to shut it off at the top of my street and roll into the garage, otherwise the neighbour’s crockery would fall off his garage walls due to the vibrations!” Danko laughs. Work and a new family eventually left Danko too timepoor to keep improving his little Capri, and as a result the car spent the best part of 10 years sitting idle. So when the time finally came to rebuild the car, Danko decided to go all-out.

In place of the old Cleveland is a 434ci Dart Windsor, built in-house at Adicted using 218cc CHI heads, a Callies crank, GRP rods and custom Diamond pistons. Feeding boost through a modified CHI 3V intake manifold, Wilson throttlebody and elbow is a pair of 70mm Precision turbos with 60mm Turbosmart gates. The result is 1687hp and 1319lb-ft of torque at 7200rpm on 20psi.

Space in the front of the Capri was already pretty tight before a 66mm radiator was fitted to keep the engine cool, so a water-to-air intercooler was tucked under the dash to keep the intake temps safe. A Haltech 2500T is used to control the madness, while a Powerglide ’box from Protrans is more than capable of shifting the mammoth power to a 35-spline, fabricated nine-inch diff.

Oddly enough, the rear end still employs the factory leaf-spring configuration, which Danko explains is due to his love of a challenge rather than engineering negligence. “I’ve done cars with four-link set-ups before and done really well, but the leaf springs make it more of a challenge, and I like pushing my limits.

The first time out of the block was also the first win for the car, taking out the Ultimate Street Car Challenge eighth-mile event in March this year, but it was a long thrash to get there.

“We finished at 3am the night before, came back again that morning and didn’t leave until lunchtime, Danko says. “I took it for a quick hit up and down the street and then it was straight on the trailer and off to the drags.

The first time the car hit the full quarter-mile was at Heathcote, and even with a few teething problems it still put down a ripper time. “It went 8.1 at Heathcote with a cylinder not firing properly, so we should be able to get a low seven from it with some development, Danko says.

Danko’s had a number of people help him with the build over the years, and his three young fellas were a key part of that, learning the ropes from an early age and pushing their dad as much as possible to get the Capri back on the road.

POMMY PONY ALTHOUGH it was dubbed the ‘European pony car’ the MkI Ford Capri was a long way off its American cousins when it came to horsepower ratings. The topof-the-range V6 model had just 138hp, while Danko’s original 1.6L four-cylinder would have had even less. Now thanks to the twin-turbo Windsor, his car can boast well over 1600hp.

BENEATH Wedged in between a custom 9in differential and big Mickey Thompson tyres are a trans cooler and Weldon fuel pump

I’VE DONE CARS WITH FOUR-LINK SET-UPS BEFORE AND DONE REALLY WELL, BUT THE LEAF SPRINGS MAKE IT MORE OF A CHALLENGE, AND I LIKE PUSHING MY LIMITS

INTERIOR

Fitted around a six-point chrome-moly ’cage is a VS Commodore dash housing a Racepak IQ3 dash, while RCI seats and five-point harnesses keep Danko and his terrified passenger in place while he lets nearly 1700hp rip. A TCI Outlaw shifter is used to get the Powerglide up and boogying

BOOT

Dean G Fabrications did a killer job of custom-fabricating the tanks in the boot, as well as the big radiator up front

IT WENT 8.1 AT HEATHCOTE WITH A CYLINDER NOT FIRING PROPERLY, SO WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET A LOW SEVEN WITH SOME DEVELOPMENT

“My kids have always been involved with the car; even when they were between eight and 10 years old they were under the car stripping it back, and they’re always with me at the track, Danko says. “I don’t have to touch the spanners when we’re at the track; anything that needs to be done they’ll be there with tools in hand ready to get it sorted for me.

One of his sons has already placed dibs on another Capri chassis that’s over in the US getting some work done, so it’s pretty clear that racing runs through the veins of the Knezevic family.

The exterior of the Capri has been kept fairly standard. Danko resprayed the car himself when he was working in the trade as a young bloke, using his own customised version of an EF Falcon blue. The wheels are Weld Racing in 15x3.5 up front and much beefier 15x10 under the rear, using a 275 radial. The rear only needed a minitub to get the big meats to fit, which is not a bad thing given there isn’t a whole lot of room to begin with in a car of this size.

The interior is also a blend of factory and aftermarket. While pieces like the original steering wheel are still in use, the VS Commodore dash is not common fitment in any Ford, let alone a Capri. Danko says he chose the dash both for looks and practicality. “I wanted something with smooth lines and a hump for the driver to mount the Haltech display on, and I had a VS Calais at the time and decided that dashboard would work well, he says. RCI seats and harnesses have been used, and the floor carpet has been moulded around the six-point chrome-moly rollcage.

Even with a busy work schedule, Danko tries to get out and race the car at least four to five times a year, and at the time of writing has recorded a PB of 7.7@181mph. The plates do allow him to cruise the beast on the street when he gets the chance, too. “I plan on getting things like the rear seat done so it’s a little more street-friendly, but I don’t plan on doing things like Drag Challenge with it; it’s just a bit too much of a brute to use on the street that much, Danko says.

He also has plans to build a pro mod Mustang, but until that day of comes, scratching Danko’s that seven-second racing itch. s Capri should be more than capable

DANKO KNEZEVIC 1970 FORD CAPRI MARK I Paint: Custom EF Blue

ENGINE

Type: 434ci Windsor

ECU: Haltech 2500T

Intake: Custom

Turbo: Twin 70mm Precision

Heads: 218cc CHI

Camshaft: Custom

Conrods: GRP Pistons: Diamond 9.0:1

Crank: Callies Magnum

Oil pump: External Peterson

Fuel system: E85/98

Cooling: Custom radiator, 16in fan

Intercooler: Water-to-air

Exhaust: Custom turbo manifolds, twin 3.5in system

Ignition: MSD

TRANSMISSION

Gearbox: Powerglide

Converter: TCE, 6000rpm stall

Diff: Custom 9in housing, Moser 35-spline axles

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Front: King coil-overs

Rear: Lowered leaf springs

Brakes: Wilwood

Master cylinder: Wilwood

WHEELS & TYRES

Rims: Weld Racing; 15x3.5 (f), 15x10 (r)

Rubber: M/T ET (f), M/T Radial Pro 275/60R15 (r)

THANKS

My wife and my three boys Zack, Dylan and Levi; Haltech; TCE; Protrans; Speedpro; Kenny Perry; Dean G Fabrication; James at Switched On Auto Electrics