Published on January 25th, 2022 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Ford Capri Celebrates Its 53rd Birthday Today
Is the Capri older than you or younger?
Our earliest memory of the Ford Capri was watching the popular TV series, ‘The Professionals’.
On this day some fifty plus years ago a true British sports car was born and today it is almost forgotten as you hardly see it on the road. Once a common sight in Klang Valley and Penang, the Capri was the sports car of the day with its long slender nose, short rump and sporty stance. Like its sibling, the Escort and Cortina, it was Ford of Britain’s greatest time in the Asian automotive market and some.
To be more precise, on January 24th 1969, Ford unveiled to the attending media a brand new car at the Brussels Motor Show, the Capri.
Production at the Halewood plant in Liverpool, England had actually begun two months earlier to ensure that every English Ford dealer would have at least one unit of the Ford Capri in its showroom by the time sales started in February the same year.
From 1969 onwards, the Capri was produced for global sales until 1986 and in that time nearly two million units were sold to the Commonwealth. It only had a handful of European rivals. The Opel Manta was its closets rival followed by the Renault Feugo and the much more expensive Porsche 924.
The Japanese had a dozen or so rivals, but in Britain, the Capri was the sports car every young lad wanted. The Nissan 240Z and Toyota Celica ST were true rivals in terms of looks and power delivery, but, it was a time when Japanese sports car were not respected. Today all that has changed completely.
The initial idea for the car was thought up between Ford of England and Ford of Germany (The Ford Granada was a German idea). The car was named Colt during development stage, but Ford were unable to use the name, as it was trademarked by Mitsubishi. It was marketed as “The car you always promised yourself” and was seen as Europe’s answer to the Ford Mustang.
It was instantly successful, likely because Ford offered the model with a wide range of engines and trim levels to suit different pockets: a year after sales began, a quarter of a million models had been built. Another six months later, more than one million had been sold.
The Capri over the years boasted 26 derivatives and with a mixture of engines starting from a humble ‘teachers’ 1.3L, a government servant 1.6L, the small business owners 2.0L and then followed by the rich kids 3-litre V6. There was also the Cologne-built RS2600 and the short-lived Halewood built 124mph RS3100 which is very rare.
In 1981 the newly-formed Special Vehicle Engineering department launched its first project, the 160bhp Capri 2.8L injection which arrived in Malaysia in very small numbers.
Meanwhile, the Ford Capri has a strong history in motorsport, with many impressive accolades to its name. Shortly after Ford’s Motorsport department came to fruition in June of 1969, the first ever all-wheel-drive Capri took victory in a rally stage in the north of England. In 1972, German driver Jochen Mass won the European Touring Car Championship in a Capri RS.
In July of 1978, Ford and Zakspeed collaborated to produce the Group 5 Ford Zakspeed Turbo Capri. The car featured a 1.4-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder power-plant, producing over 400bhp to push it to a top speed of over 170mph.
In 1981, a modified version of the original Zakspeed Turbo Capri won the German Racing Championship. The new car had a peak power output of almost 600bhp, 347ft lbs of torque, pushing it to a top speed of 205mph.
Today, the Capri in Malaysia is rare and mostly rusted away in towns like Taiping, Penang and Ipoh where it was popular.
Collectors in Britain are starting to pay high prices for well kept Capri’s as values of Escorts and Cortina’s rise by three and four fold in the last five years.