Still A Favorite

One of my buddies owned a Ford Capri back in the early 1970s, and many’s the weekend night he and I would go out in the Capri looking for booze, women and trouble (some overlap).

This being South Africa, he had the European-styled version (which I preferred over the U.S. Mercury type anyway) with, as I recall, the 2.0-liter V6 German engine.  All I remember was that it was easily a match for any hot Mini-Cooper S, Alfa Romeo 1600 or Fiat 125 S of the era — at least, in Mike’s hands it was, and I remember most vividly the incredible speed with which he raced up and down through the gearbox, using that tiny short-throw stick.

I thought then (and still do) that the Capri’s shape was incredibly sexy — far more so than the earlier Mustang, and hugely more so than the horrible Pinto — and frankly, I think it would hold its own against the anonymous styling of many of today’s wind-tunnel models.  Sure, it’s a little dated, but then so am I.

The 2.0-liter V6 was fine for the times back then, but if I could have a new one today, I’d get the racier 3.0-liter GT or GXL, which put out close to 150hp — and considering how light the Capri’s body was, it would be plenty powerful:

I wouldn’t even mind the 70s-era upholstery color:

Side note:  there was a racing version of the South African Capri (called the “Perana”) which was fitted with a monster 5-liter V8 engine.  It was eventually banned from competition because it had no competition.  Vroom vroom.

A number of Americans dream of owning a muscle car from the 1960s and 70s.  If I had to own such a car (as opposed to, say, an Alfa Romeo Montreal), the Ford Capri would top my list.


  1. My wife had a 76 when I met her. V6, auto, copper exterior/black interior. I remember the fit and finish were nice. Never had to do any work on it and she traded it in a year or so later.

    Looking back, I wish I still had all the vehicles I previously owned. Though I didn’t know it at the times, again in looking back, but it seems each ride I got was worse than the one I had before. My current vehicle, the newest of them all but not brand new, is the worst of them all. But, I imagine that if I live another 20 years I’ll look back at the current one and believe to be better than the next one. Weerd.
    In order:
    1962 Corvair Turbo
    1966 Mustang conv 289/4
    1970 El Camino SS
    1970 Camaro SS
    1979 Monza GT
    1990 S10 short bed V6/5sp
    2001 Blazer 2dr 4wd (current, and probably last)
    Notice the pattern?
    Except for 1, all are chevy’s.
    My pappy was a chevy man and I inherited that premise.

  2. I guess it was a Cortina at heart, like the Mustang, based on a sedan platform. Did Ford have a South African assembly plant, or were these imported? I know that Ford was, and I guess was, big in Europe. We looked at a German Ford called the Merkur over here and we were not very impressed. There is a Capri on Ebay for $10,500, which I doubt will sell.
    Is it the memories or the car itself that is the attraction?

    1. Ford SA had an enormous assembly plant, because all imports faced a 100% import duty.

  3. Had one, the Mercury version. Been looking for one for a few years now. Either the ad is a few years old, the car is modded, the owner wants too much, or it’s a rust bucket. I only want the ’71 – ’73, not interested in the ’74 and later. Loved driving around in it through winding mountain roads. Of course, the passenger side back window always fell out. Looked sort of like a mini Jag with that long hood. Saw the one on e-bay, yeah, I’ll pass at $10k, they only topped out around $2500 when new and a concourse level Capri is only around $8k. Ain’t wasting my inheritance money on an overpriced car to relive earlier days.

    1. My rear windows did the same. The adhesive on the levers that allowed you to prop them open in the back wasn’t up to the task. I found that I could slide a small wooden shim into the back of the frame from the outside of the car and it would hold the window closed pretty well.

      1. All of which was why I preferred the European version. None of those problems, ever.

  4. Nice car. I like classic Ford. New Ford sucks in my opinion. Many, not all, Classic cars are the best. Think original Jeep Cherokee vs today’s garbage.

    That being said, since democrats and leftists like free stuff, I say instead of free college, we provide FREE FORD PINTO’s for any democrat leftist who wants one. And specifically Pinto’s before the recall work was done.

    1. When I was a yout’, I was in the Civil Air Patrol. One of our pilots had to leave one of the squadron airplanes at an airport about 50 miles away. I volunteered to go with him (in his car) to retrieve the plane, and I would drive the car home. He drove a Mercury Capri, early 1970s version (would have been about ’73, ’74 when this happened). This was my first time driving something even remotely sporty, and I liked it a lot.

      Aside from not being able to figure out how to dim/brighten the headlights. Every car I’d ever driven at that point had the dimmer switch on the floor, and I knew of no other place it could be. This Capri had the dimmer combined with the turn signal stalk, and I just couldn’t figure that out. When I’d press what should have been the dimmer switch on the floor, the windshield washer squirted fluid at the glass.

    2. Coffeeman, With respect, sir, please learn the correct spelling; Its dimocrat.
      Just like the letter e in the English language is most common, the dim in dimocrat is most common.


  5. I bought a ’73 Mercury Capri in the summer of ’87. It was bright red and had the 2.6 liter V6 with a four on the floor. It was a quick car for the time and extremely easy to work on, which was helpful because I drove a ton of hard miles in it while delivering pizza.
    My favorite incident with it started with a stop light drag race. I popped the clutch, but instead of the usual wheel spin from the skinny tires, there was a huge clunk from under the hood and the car went totally dead. When I looked under the hood, I realized that I was seeing the side of the engine. The engine mounts had sheared and the engine had rotated more than 90 degrees in the bay.
    I figured the car was toast, but due to the simplicity of the design, once I towed it back home I was able to use a couple of jacks to rotate the engine and transmission back upright. The fuel lines, exhaust, and other connections went back to where they’d been and after paying $14 at the wrecking yard for two motor mounts and a throttle return spring, the car was good to go. I can’t imagine getting away with that in a more modern car.

  6. My buddy had a 74 mercury version. After a few years of thrashing it around the gear shifter broke off in his hand. It was all down hill after that and we decided it was a bigger piece of crap than my pinto!

  7. My high school car, in the mid 80’s, was a ’73 Mercury Capri. 2 liter, 4 cylinder. Fun little car.

    Did headers and exhaust. Dual side draft Weber’s (pain in the behind to synch and tune those things), and a nice cam.

    Some wheels and low profile, wider tires. Lower the suspension and beef up the sway bars.

    It was a blast on curvy country roads.

  8. I bought a ’76 Capri V6 fresh off the boat and used it as my daily driver (in SoCal) for ~15 years. The other option I considered at the time was a Celica GT – which probably would have been a better choice in the long run. The Capri in American trim was so strangled by emissions plumbing and fuel mileage “improvements” that it wasn’t very peppy, even for that cursed era. Also I had multiple failures including 2 master cylinder replacements, at least 3 water pump replacements and at least 2 radiator rebuilds – not to mention the minor stuff like the cotter pin in the gear shifter disappearing, the sunroof leaking until frozen in place, parts constantly breaking / falling off, etc. As mentioned above, the handling was crap, especially in the wet. Honestly, the 1981 V6 Volvo station wagon I got for the wife was a much faster, better handling and more reliable car.

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