The Ford Capri - As Cool As Your Dad In The '70s

A quick delve into the iconic Capri's history and how it all came to a sombre end

3w ago
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A chat about one of the best coupes of all time triggered a thought into finding out how it came to fruition, here you will see development stages and talk more in-depth of what made the Capri an icon.

Project Colt - Notice no 'curvy Capri' rear window

Project Colt - Notice no 'curvy Capri' rear window

It all started in the mid 60s when Ford wanted to bring the Mustang to the UK, but obviously it was a bit too American for the British buyer so "Project Colt" was put into place - it was a simple mixture - Feel like a Mustang but have it be a bit beige and sip a hot cup of tea.

The cheapest performance car for the masses at the time was the Lotus Cortina but it was starting to feel dated and didn't really have the looks that posers wanted - £20 million was thrown at Ford's development team to go away and make the iconic Capri, this was because they were so adamant that it was going to be a great seller.

1967 saw the first 'final' shape of the Capri, it had all the credentials of the Mustang but gained that European style and look! However, the name 'Colt' wasn't to be, Mitsubishi already had the name, so Ford went away and thought of a more 'exclusive' name. Capri as a name crept up but it was used on the older Consul Capri which didn't sell well at all, however it was chosen to be the name of the new car.

Project Colt - Testing

Project Colt - Testing

The rear side window on the Capri was actually too small on the development vehicles so it was changed last minute for it to have a bigger curved window which enabled the rear passengers to look out. This design feature stayed with the Capri throughout all generations.

He seems happy, doesn't he?

He seems happy, doesn't he?

Early January 1969 saw the finalization of the Capri, it was going to be shown to the public on the 24th of that very month at Brussels Motor Show, first thoughts of the vehicle were very promising!

The Capri was actually in production before this in late 1968 , being built at the Halewood Factory in Liverpool (now the Jaguar/Land Rover Plant). After this, Capris were showing up at all Ford dealers and it definitely was "The car you always promised yourself", it was brilliant. The MK1 had a 4 year run until 1974, it reached into the Top 10 cars sold in the UK and they were practically everywhere. With this it also reached Motorsport in Group 1 as well as rallying - it was everywhere doing well. Towards the end of production it saw quite a few RS variants with the RS2600 and RS3100 which contained the Essex V6s, definitely an RS enthusiasts favourite.

That's just naughty

That's just naughty

1974 saw the introduction of the Capri MK2 - same recipe just more friendly to the oil crisis. The MK2 had a smaller nose and had the introduction of the hatchback boot, which was a change from the MK1s saloon esque boot. Engines again ranged from the 1.3L Inline 4 to the beefy 3.0L V6.

This just screams 70s British TV Crime Action.

This just screams 70s British TV Crime Action.

The MK2 itself didn't actually see an RS variant instead it came with the X Pack (bumpers and some slight performance upgrades) and the John Player Special which consisted of a black and gold paint which looked brilliant! The MK2 sold less than the MK1 and folded in 1978.

Yet again, Ford did go to the 1976 Geneva Motorshow to hint at the MK3 with an Escort style front end but it didn't really 'wow' the public because really, it was quite ugly.

PHWOARRR! Hello.

PHWOARRR! Hello.

However, in 1978 the Capri MK3 was born with the front-end everyone was looking for - better aero, better engines, better economy, better Capri. Again starting from the 1.3L to the Essex 3.0L V6 it was the performance car of the regular British driver. The MK3 tried its hand in Motorsport going into the BSCC (now the BTCC) as well as Group 5 where Zakspeed took the Capri and bumped its steroid intake up to 1000 which made it win 9 races. Many special editions of the MK3 came and went, these consisted of the following; 2.8 Injection, Series X, 2.8 Turbo, Tickford Turbo, various Turbo Technics, Laser and 280.

This really is one of the coolest '80s rockets.

This really is one of the coolest '80s rockets.

The 3.0s however, were quite special, it was involved in the very successful TV show 'The Professionals' Bodie and Doyle both drove 3.0s variants of the Capri which probably helped the cars desire.

The 280, really was Caprifection.

The 280, really was Caprifection.

1986 was quickly approaching and sadly the Capri's sales were slowly fading out. The 280 Brooklands was really was the only one in production and was the last Capri ever made (in Europe at least). It was time to say goodbye to the 'Capri'.

Such a shame. Goodbye Capri!

Such a shame. Goodbye Capri!

After 1,886,647 Capris rolled off the production line this final variant was the end of an era and this final car is still here with Ford's Heritage Collection. Thanks for the smiles, Capri!

The Capri

The Capri

And that was it for the European Capri, and no other Coupé has really made such a statement since. Shame that we'll never likely see another one, unless it gets turned into another crossover/SUV. Yes, I'm looking at you Puma!

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Comments (4)

  • Had a lot of fun in various 2.8 injection Capri's way back when - don't think we'll see another like it (or should we based on the latest 'version' of the Puma...)

      25 days ago
  • As I recall, during the oil crisis in the early 70’s , the paints that Ford had been using on the Capri (or Crappy as we called them) started to run out and so Ford introduced a new range of colours, pre- computer beige being among them.they were awful and can’t have helped sales, plus the build quality was, well, British if you see what I mean. You’ll be bemoaning the loss of the Hillman Avenger next, one of my friends bought one new in hideous pink/purple. It too was a disgrace, a typically shoddy British car.

      22 days ago
    • Might not be a bad idea, Graham! Cheers for the idea

        22 days ago
    • There’s a whole series of articles to be written by someone, Cars We Don’t Miss, anything from British Leyland is already in the list by default.

        22 days ago
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