The European idea of a perfect pony car (long front, short back) was the Ford Capri — or more accurately it was Ford Europe’s idea. The recently created conglomerate launched this trendy car in 1969, hoping to emulate the Mustang’s success in North America. The Capri was based on the Cortina platform and had common styling but different engine specs for Britain and the Continent.
Ford wanted to produce a fashionable car that would appeal to the widest possible market (or to put it another way, every pocket). Thus a variety of engines was offered. The initial UK options were 1.3 litre or 1.6 litre versions of the Ford Kent straight four, with a 2 litre Cologne V6 topping the offering. Before long, Brits with lots of dosh could choose sports versions like the 3000 GT with the Ford Essex V6 engine. That’s the one that always featured in memorable car chases in 1970s TV series like The Professionals, frequently ending in a slewing handbrake emergency stop followed by a bonnet roll and brisk gunplay.
Competition glory was never far from Ford’s mind, and a souped-up Capri duly appeared in 1971, powered by a 2.6 litre version of the Cologne V6 assembled by Weslake and featuring alloy cylinder heads. This was the Capri RS2600, which would prove to be a star of the European Touring Car Championship in the early 1970s. Never slow to appreciate the powerful aphrodisiac properties of track success, a luxury road-going version with a detuned engine and double-barrel Solex carb was available.
Business was encouragingly brisk, but Ford still gave the Mk I a facelift in 1972, introducing better suspension, more comfortable seats, rectangular headlights and enlarged tail lights. A significant revamp saw the larger Capri Mk 2 arrive in February 1974, complete with hatchback rear door.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
UK (also built in Belgium and Germany)
1969 (to 1974)
1,298 cc or 1,598 cc Straight Four, 2,550 cc or 2,994 cc V6
3000 GT – top speed of 122 mph (196 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.4 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The original choice of name for the Capri was the Ford Colt – but Mitsubishi had cleverly trademarked that iconic American title so Capri it became, revisiting the not-altogether different Consul Capri of the early 1960s and borrowing a model name used by various Ford-owned marques in America.