Ford prices are in the as­cen­dancy, es­pe­cially for those of the sport­ing va­ri­ety. This Capri MkI will re­turn much more fun and in­ter­est than a bank ever could

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News -

Why put money in the bank when you could just buy a de­cent Capri?

The Capri is one of those cars that im­proved with age. That’s not of­ten the case with long-run­ning mod­els, which so of­ten lose some of their orig­i­nal sparkle with every facelift, but by its MkIII in­car­na­tion, ‘the car you al­ways promised your­self’ had be­come very sexy – a proper boy’s-own sports coupé. In 2.8-litre V6 en­gined form, it was a wild child of the 1980s, and the MkIII is gen­er­ally the Capri most of­ten still seen around.

So it’s a nice trip down Blue Oval mem­ory lane to be pre­sented with a pris­tine-look­ing MkI, with all its 1960s flour­ishes in­tact. The sports wheels, the ex­cesses of chrome, the stick-on grilles, and the dis­tinc­tive swathe line curv­ing down past the rear wheel arch al­most in a re­flec­tion of the most fa­mous Capri fea­ture, the C-shaped rear side win­dow. It is a re­minder that the Capri was born into an era when the more flam­boy­ance there was, the bet­ter a car was per­ceived to be. If only this one had a vinyl roof too.

In­side, it’s def­i­nitely down to sports coupé busi­ness. Aside from the wood on the well-equipped dash­board and down the strip of the cen­tre con­sole, it’s very black in­side. Res­o­lutely so – the car­pets, seats, door cards, dash and switchgear are all dark and busi­nesslike.

Still, it puts you in a more per­for­mance-ori­en­tated mood, as you gaze over a bon­net that looks even longer from in­side than it does from out­side. There’s not much to dis­tract from the most im­por­tant as­pect of driv­ing and en­joy­ing the Capri – al­though all the gauges (six, with the speedome­ter and rev counter dom­i­nat­ing) do cause the eye to wan­der when you turn the key and they flicker into life.

What­ever the looks, the drama is a lit­tle lack­ing with these ear­lier cars, at least in four-pot form. There’s no throaty roar from the ex­haust when you fire things up, just a se­date and pedes­trian burr, re­mind­ing you that this Kent en­gine was the same, in con­fig­u­ra­tion if not ca­pac­ity, as that of fam­ily Anglias and Corti­nas.

At least in GT form here, Ford tweaks have en­dowed it with 88bhp. That doesn’t sound much, in to­day’s world when even hum­ble hatches have sim­i­lar re­serves, but in the con­text of the pe­riod this car was born into, it was lively enough. And it still proves that way to­day. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is brisk enough if you poke the ac­cel­er­a­tor with enough en­thu­si­asm. But you do need to press hard to pro­voke it, for this is, if not a sheep in wolf’s cloth­ing, then per­haps an ob­sti­nate ram or slightly-miffed goat.

Ford gear­boxes have of­ten been noted for their slick­ness, and this four-speeder can be slipped through all of its ra­tios with con­sum­mate ease – there’s no baulk­i­ness or re­sis­tance at all. That does leave you wish­ing for the ab­sent fifth, though, but that wouldn’t ma­te­ri­alise un­til the 1980s. So at higher speeds, the Capri does give the im­pres­sion of be­ing a lit­tle strained. The hard ride doesn’t help oc­cu­pants com­pletely re­lax ei­ther.

Where the charisma comes in is on cor­ners. The quite rudi­men­tary rear sus­pen­sion means the rear end can feel a lit­tle skit­tery on bends, es­pe­cially in the damp. The best op­tion is to slow down into the ap­proach – and for­tu­nately, the front discs are quite ef­fec­tive – and then ac­cel­er­ate out. Even with only a mod­icum of mus­cle, ap­ply­ing the power with the front wheels turned can make the world go un­ex­pect­edly side­ways.

But once you’re used to the Capri and the foibles it can demon­strate, it does be­come a very easy and en­joy­able drive. In this ex­am­ple, the fam­ily un­der­pin­nings are ob­vi­ous, but there’s enough ex­tra ex­cite­ment in­jected – much of it just the Capri’s com­pelling aura it­self – to give this 1600GT some ad­di­tional fizz.

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