Every week we look back at a classic, or maybe not so classic, car from yesteryear. Sometimes cars don’t quite make it into the classic market but should still be remembered and enjoyed. This weeks subject is, however, a true legend. Designed to be European version of the Mustang it had a wide range of engines and was in production for 17 years; the Ford Capri.
The Early Years
There were three versions of the Capri and the MK1 hit the streets way back in 1969. The aim of the Capri was to launch something that would suit the European and UK market but at the same time would capture some of the success the Mustang had had in the US. The design brief was to create a fastback shaped car that was suitable for smaller roads, accessible to the masses and had a sporty feel. The results were brilliant, with a long America feeling bonnet, rear wheel drive, no rear doors and air vents down the sides the Capri certainly looked the part. Initial reviews were generally positive but it was noted the handling could be improved and it was even mentioned that it was designed for American roads due to a lack of cornering ability.
The Capri certainly saw its fair share of different engines over the years, this was all part of the accessibility plan. The idea was that there would always be an engine to suit everyone, but this did mean the model list did get rather long. The MK1 played host to V4, straight 4 and V6 engines in it’s lifetime, the V4, however, was only ever seen in Europe. The British cars had a 1.3 litre, 1.6 litre and 2.0 litre straight 4 with a V6 option topping the range. By the end of 1969 there was even an extra sporty version called the 3000 GT which had an impressive 138 bhp. Later on Ford introduced its famous Pinto engine into the range along with a 2.3 litre V6 and later on a 2.8 litre V6. During its lifetime the number of different engines for different markets included many more but only the most serious owners club members would be able to tell you about them all.
The second generation of the Capri ran from 1974 to 1978 and as a result of the oil crisis was designed to be a little more “everyday”. The idea was to attract more buyers and make it seem much less of a sports car. Ford added a hatchback boot, larger front disc brakes and a larger cabin to add some comfort to proceedings. The Capri 2, as it was known, kept hold of the classic square headlights but had a shorter bonnet to add to the list of changes. The Capri continued to sell well in Europe and the UK but sales started to drop off in Japan and failed to ever really take off in the US. It was around this time that the famous Ford tuners RS were starting to offer tuning packages for all Ford models, the Capri was no exception and a limited number of “X-Pack” Capris were created with more power as well as handling improvements.
The MK3 was the final iteration of the mighty Capri, and with it’s four circular headlights it is possibly the most recognisable. The MK3 also saw the introduction of the 2.8litre injection model, this well equipped car had special alloy wheels, racing stripes and new velour interior. It was also a much faster car with around 160 bhp and a top speed of 130 mph. Sadly by this time the Capri was really only selling in the UK and what may have been the best version did not get a chance to shine in the US or Japan.
Over it’s lifetime the Capri sold nearly 1.9 million units, this is really not bad for a car designed as an everyday sports car. It certainly gave British motorists the chance to own something a little more exciting without having to be wealthy. Prior to that you really only had things like the Austin Healey and they were not cheap. The Capri did become somewhat of a stereotype in its later life as being something rather “chavvy” and often used in comedy sketches and soaps driven by a certain type of young man. However, the car was brilliant and offered a lot of fun, though it was known for being a bit scary in the wet trying to go round a round about.
You can still by one of these super cool cars but you will need to set aside around £10,000 for a decent one, even a MK 3 in good condition will reach that price. Exceptional examples will go a lot higher, cheap ones will be in a poor state but might make a good project car for anyone hoping to bring an old one back to life.