THE FORD CAPRI
Although the Consul Capri bowed out in 1964, this stylish fastback is often referred to as the spiritual forerunner of its later namesake, the MkI Capri. Styled by US designer Philip T. Clark, the MkI Capri’s flowing lines were based on the iconic Ford Mustang, hence the Capri being developed under the code name Colt. Following a private unveiling in Bonn, the MkI Capri made its first public debut at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1969.
Engines available at launch ranged from a 1.3-litre Kent unit right up to a gusty 93bhp 2.0-litre Essex V4 in the MkI 2000GT. In September 1969 Ford moved the goalposts with regards to the competition when it introduced the 3.0-litre V6-powered GT and GXL. The desirability of getting behind the wheel of a V6-powered Capri was further reinforced when the limited edition RS3100 was launched for homologation purposes in 1973, a move that allowed the MkI Capri to go racing.
Despite all its well-documented problems, the V4 remained under the MkI’s long bonnet right up to the introduction of the much-improved three-door MkII Capri in 1974. Although the new Capri retained the outgoing model’s rear-wheel drive underpinnings, a 2.0-litre version of Ford’s recently introduced Pino single overhead cam inline-four now replaced the troublesome V4. The 2.0-litre Pinto had a swept volume of 1993cc and power output from this tough unit was a very respectable 98bhp at 5200rpm, a slightly better figure than the V4 could produce.
In 1977 Ford dropped the GT badge on the MkII V6 Capri and replaced it with the S, while plusher versions received upmarket Ghia badging. A third version of the Capri was developed under the code name of Carla and the covers came off the MkII in March 1978. The most notable difference was the new model’s quad round headlight set up, a pair of ribbed taillights and the application of Ford’s corporate Aeroflow grille first seen on the Fiesta. Most trim and engine options offered on the new Capri were carried over from the outgoing model and improved aerodynamics help improve the MkII’s performance and economy.
By now the Capri’s popularity was starting to wane but regular appearances by a pair of 3.0-litre S-badged examples on the small screen in The Professionals helped turn the Capri into a cult model in the UK. Never shy to exploit a sales opportunity, Ford capitalised on the Capri’s rising cult status by producing the 2.8 injection models for the 1982 model year and Capri 2.0-litre production now centred around one model, the S. One of the final limited editions was the fully loaded Brooklands 280 and Capri production finally came to an end in 1986.