Published on April 2nd, 2017 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Ford CAPRI a classic English sports car built over 18 years
When we were growing up there were very few dream cars we could hang on our wall and wonder when we could realistically own one. The one sports car that we loved was the Ford Capri, from Ford of England. This was the preferred sports car in all the popular English gangster TV shows and the car of choice by young British pop stars.
The Ford Capri arrived on the sports car scene in 1969. It started with a basic 1.6-liter 4ccylinder shared with its siblings, the Cortina and Escort in its first year. In 1970 displacement increased to the 2.0cc. It was light, handled well and was fairly quick and efficient.
The Ford Capri was a sports car we remembered very well at a time when our dad drove a Mk1 Ford Escort. The Capri, like the Cortina was the car for the upper middle class and we could only afford the Escort which at the time was a basic little 2 door car. Today a Mk1 Ford Escort is worth twice what a Capri will fetch and this is a shame as the Capri deserves more credit. No fewer than 1,886,648 rolled down various production lines during its entire eighteen-year lifespan. The Capri was designed from the outset to be a practical coupe. It’s a full four seater, although rear headroom is a touch cramped for taller passengers. The back seats can be folded, together or individually, to optimise luggage space. The overall load length then increases from 37 inches to over 65 inches with a maximum width of more than 52 inches. Folding the Capri’s rear seats boosts total carrying capacity from 9.3 to 22.6 cubic feet.
Equipment levels vary wildly depending on which trim level it was sold with. The 1977 model year saw big changes in a new updated Capri II based model. The car grew in size and in refinement while retaining the original styling cues of the Mk II. It was now about the same size as the American Ford Mustang, a car considered a low point in Mustang performance, but had a interesting hatchback design that brought it closer in spirit to the Capri, despite being completely different cars in all respects. By this time only a few models of the Capri was available in Asia, mostly luxury based Ghias with 4 cylinders and sporty RS models with V6s.
The Ford Capri Mk III was rear wheel drive also, but came in a range of engine configurations from 1.3 litre fours up to a potent 3.0 litre V6. Ghia branded cars leaned toward luxury and comfort and were often 4 speed automatics. Sport oriented (and economy) models featured 4 and later 5 speed manual transmissions. Interestingly the European “RS” label was used in Asia while the sportier versions of the Capri in Europe were called “S” but were sold at Ford RS dealerships in Germany for instance.
Although there was never an official Cosworth Capri, many enthusiast owners have converted their cars to Cosworth specs by swapping out the 2.8 for a 2.9 litre 24V V6 that made an impressive 220 to 230 hp. These and other Cosworth/ Ford parts could be purchased at any UK Ford dealership. For those wanting someone else to do the work, there was the Tickford Turbo with its German 2.8 tweaked for 205 hp. Ground effects and body colored wheels completed the boy racer look. The suspension was upgraded and the brakes to disc all around. Inside featured a loaded leather interior with all the luxuries a 80’s car could want. The modifications were hand built, making the Tickford the most expensive of the tuner versions at almost double the cost of the base Capri.
One of the rarest Capri’s was 1982’s 2.8 Turbo. Only 200 of these left hand drive only cars were built in Germany and distributed to German RS dealers. Like the Tickford, it featured custom bodywork, special four spoke alloy rims and Ford Motorsport badges. A typical 2.8 turbo could reach 137 mph and do 0 to 60mph run in the low 7 second range.
Today the Capri is almost forgotten and only a few units survive in Malaysia. A legendary rally driver in Malaysia still owns a silver unit and we have seen a few running around Penang island and this is the limit of our encounter with the classic British Capri.