Our celebration of the giant-killing Ford Capri has Phil reliving the highs and lows of the cool coupé’s life journey
You had to develop a pretty thick skin to be a Capri owner in the Eighties and Nineties, or have a good sense of humour. Fortunately, I’ve always been able to laugh, even when the Capri joke was on me, which it often was during that low point in the car’s image. Then, the fashionable performance bargains of the day were pert hatchbacks sporting GTI or GT/E badges. The Capri had slipped from urbane challenger of exotic names to urban bad boy, a rolling canvas for the worst excesses of the car modifier’s craft.
What a difference a couple of decades makes – the closer the Capri has crept to its 50th birthday, the better it has recaptured that original cool and the respect for what it achieved. Hell, you can even see them racing at Goodwood now. When I bought mine, Capris were as likely to crop up in the banger section of the classifieds – or scrapyards – as in a classic car magazine, making them helpfully cheap as I transitioned from student grant to first job. But I was almost oblivious to the Capri’s lowly status. Instead, my head was filled with images of Jochen Mass threewheeling an RS2600 to European Touring Car Championship victory, a rally-jacketed Jackie Stewart perched nonchalantly on the wing of an RS3100 and Lewis Collins chasing assorted sideburn-farming international villains across various airfields in The Professionals.
As Ford intended with its pick ’n’ mix choice of engines and specification levels across three generations of car, the Capri could be all things to all men, and women, though the macho advertising seemed strongly aimed at the former. Our big test of six models, from the cheerfully humble 1.3L to the remarkably honed 2.8 Injection Special gives a taste of the Capri in all of its significant flavours, and Jochen Mass reveals what it was really like to do battle in the Bmw-baiting race cars. Reading that was enough to rekindle my desire to own one again, but sadly they’re no longer the bargains that I used to have fun with.
Enjoy the issue.
Fifty years from launch, the Capri is once again one of the hottest cars to own. Seeing this 3.0GXL made Phil miss the one he sold
Phil Bell, editor