Our cel­e­bra­tion of the gi­ant-killing Ford Capri has Phil re­liv­ing the highs and lows of the cool coupé’s life jour­ney

Classic Cars (UK) - - Contents -

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

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