Old Flames – The Ford Capri

Posted: May 13, 2009 by The Car Spy in Classic Cars, Ford
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Click here for Slideshow

Happy 40th birthday Ford Capri! ‘The car you always promised yourself’ according to Henry Ford back in 1969 has come of age so time for a little nostalgic reflection.

It is hard to grasp both the relevance and importance of the Capri’s arrival to a gobsmacked public back then. In 2009 not a day seems to pass without the announcement of yet another ‘Sports Coupe’ to add the burden of choice faced by the modern car purchaser. Back in the 1960’s, however, the car-hungry public were fed a monotonous diet of sensible, dullard four-door family saloons.

OK by the late sixties the Mini had arrived to offer a little bit of light entertainment but it was Ford that sensed the market’s desire for something a little more ‘dangerous’. Their marketing bods therefore gave us the two-door Cortina, Cortina GT and the Lotus Cortina. Spot the recurring theme?

But in 1969 the Capri was launched and it melted a million hearts. Everybody wanted one. For slightly more than the price of a Cortina the public were being offered the European interpretation of the American Dream. No other manufacturer had offered such a stylish car aimed specifically at the mass market.

Many of the car’s design cues were taken from the US Mustang with its aggressive long bonnet (totally phallic in those days), fake air intakes and sports interior. But where the Ford boys had really pulled off their master stroke was in the massive range of options that allowed the purchaser to virtually customise the car to their own specification.

Nowadays, of course, you could do the same with a Chevrolet Matiz but back then choosing from a list of options was a revelation. Metallic paint, vinyl roof, Rostyle wheels, 1.3, 1.6, 2.0 or 3.0 v6 litre engine in L, XL, GXL or GTXLR permutations left the purchaser slack-jawed and goggle-eyed.

And so the scene was set for a car that was to survive until 1987 having passed through Mk1, 2 and 3 incarnations. Yours truly had bought three of them – a 1.6XL, 1600 GT and a 3.0S in Daytona Yellow.

The Capri’s demise, however, seemed like a funeral that nobody had bothered to turn up to. The car had been a real victim of its own success and there were just too many of them. The car was no longer special in the mid-eighties and a more affluent society moved its affections to anything with the letters B, M and W in its name.

In spite of the Capri’s all-round ability on the road and the track – Jochen Mass won the 1972 European Touring Car Championship in one – the car was no longer to be further developed by Ford who by now was playing with Cosworth and turning its Sierra into a dragon-slayer.

The Capri will be remembered fondly as a star in The Professionals and of course as the car that Del Boy had always promised himself in Only Fools and Horses. Sadly that was the knife in the back as far as the street cred was concerned. 

But the very last cars are interesting to the point where especially in 2.8i guise they are comfortable, fun to drive, pretty to look at and the ‘Del Boy’ image seems to have all but disappeared. Many of the 1.8 million built have either been crashed or left to rot so there aren’t many good examples left. Ergo values are increasing.

The 2.8 litre fuel-injected V6 produces 160 bhp which doesn’t sound impressive at all by today’s standards. But packaged with a rear-wheel drive chassis and no traction control you can see why stunt drivers used them with such rubber-burning visual effect in the cops and robbers TV programmes of the 70’s and 80’s.

If you can find the limited-edition Tickford version then snap it up quickly because it is believed that less than 100 examples were sold. The Tickford Capri was a highly modifed version of the 2.8 and was fitted with a turbocharger to boost the output to 205 bhp. Laden with luxury extras such as leather trim and Wilton carpets the car came with an excessive price tag that virtually priced it out of the market. The modified bodykit also made the car look a little bit lardy.

Today, however, we know of an extraordinary original 1987 2.8i Capri in black that has covered only 19,000 miles from new with one owner! The service book is fully stamped and every MOT certificate is available. Give us a call on ++44 1474 854490 for further details.

In the meantime click here for a slideshow of images.

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