By on April 7, 2012

The Fox Platform was one of Ford’s biggest postwar success stories; a (relatively) modern, (sort of) lightweight unibody design that could be used for everything from economy commuters to rubber-burning factory hot rods to plush luxury sedans. Sure, Ford kept the Fox on life-support a few years too many, but that’s how they roll in Detroit. We often forget about the Fox Capri, since it looked even nearly identical to its Mustang sibling (and because everyone thinks of the earlier Euro-Ford-based Capri when they hear the name), so it took me a second to realize that this inhabitant of a Northern California self-service yard wasn’t a Mustang.
The Fox Mustang/Capri with the 5.0 engine became quite fast by the mid-1980s, but the early ones were much more Malaise-appropriate sluggish.
For the 1980 model year, the Capri could be purchased with the base “Pinto” 2300 (88 horsepower), the 200-cubic-inch I6 (91 horsepower), the 255-cubic-inch Windsor V8 (119 horsepower), or the 150-horse turbocharged 2300. The hood release was busted on this car and I didn’t feel motivated to try to pry it open, so there’s no telling which engine it has (I’m guessing it’s the cheapo NA 2300, judging from the manual transmission and general lack of bling).
Here’s a very nice Field Expedient Ashtray, made from a Vienna Sausages can and some wire attached to the heater controls.

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78 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1980 Mercury Capri...”


  • avatar
    raph

    The bubble back cars are the ones that spring to mind when I think of a merc capri. Now next assignment. Find a fox car LTD, being fox based at the time made for a kick arse sleeper when you started importing Mustang bits and pieces to go fast.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Ha, some rare Fox based vehicles… LTD, Marquis (notice no “grand”), Mercury Zephr… come on guys help me out! The Fox platform was almost as prolific with its offspring as the GM W-body.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Ford already did that to some extent with the 1984-1985 LTD LX. They dropped in a 165-hp 5.0, handling package, locking diff, tach, blackout trim, and some police-package hardware. Only around 3,300 were made and the good ones are being rapidly scooped up.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        Back in the late 1980’s I was a member of the Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary. Two of the Troopers I liked to ride with had these police package LTDs. Ford advertised this car as “The Four Door Mustang.” In truth, they were dogs. They were a little quicker than the full-size LTD Crown Victorias, but their performance nothing like the Special Service Mustangs. They did have the same High Output 5.0 engine as the Mustang, but they also had automatic transmissions and the extra weight of a larger sedan body.

        As I recall the FHP bought a few hundred LTDs in 1984-85. The earliest ones had the old, bubble-gum emergency lights. The later ones had the Federal Signal, Jetsonic lightbar which the FHP began using in 1984. After about three years or so these LTDs had all been replaced with Mustangs and Caprices. Like all Highway Patrol cars the LTDs were run hard. They didn’t hold up well to this kind of use and they spent a lot of time in the shop. I would be surprised if any have survived.

      • 0 avatar
        Wodehouse

        …and its twin the Canadian market only Marquis LTS.

  • avatar
    Forty2

    What kind of person buys a car with a shinyl-vinyl white interior and blue dash?

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Back then, plenty did – but only with American makes though.

      Best friends had a ’76 Chevy Monza, it had the light blue metallic paint and white vinyl interior
      I had a ’74 Chevy Nova that was a rust/copper color, but had the parchment (near white) vinyl interior.

      • 0 avatar
        CA Guy

        +1. A friend had a 76 Omega in light blue metallic with white vinyl interior. Another friend had a 73 Duster with same color scheme plus a white vinyl top, same color-upholstery-roof combo as my aunt’s 77 LTD. Just three that come to mind. Very popular color combination back then.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Though my ’75 Duster 360 didn’t have a blue dash, it did have a white, shiny vinyl interior. It looked rather fetching with the exterior white vinyl half-roof and the white side feather stripe.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Maybe white vinyl seats had something to do with the lower take rate for air conditioning. Dark seats were hot and both cloth and leather didn’t respond well to being sweated on.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      Way back when, you could order an entire rainbow in one car. My 76 Omega had three colors. In high-school a teacher of mine had a late 70’s Monte Carlo with off white (faintest hint of blue) exterior, blue dash and headliner, white carpets, blue and white cloth/leather front seats with red piping, red and blue cloth/leather mix back seats. Sounds borderline pimp garish now, but it looked awesome at the time.
      Of course it had chrome or plastichrome everywhere.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    All KINDS of win in ery Murilee Article…But I wish you had popped the hood… The capri to have would be an ’86 with an 87-92 engine with a MAF conversion…then swap the Mustang GT body kit on the car while keeping the Capri’s sexy time fenders.
    I am intrigued by that last picture that I think says DeAnza College 84-85..with that old school 286 on there

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      It looks more like a mini/mainframe terminal to me.

      DeAnza is a junior college in Cupertino CA, about a mile from Apple HQ; maybe it is supposed to be an Apple Lisa.

  • avatar
    Carlsberg1966

    Murilee: Can’t tell you how much I enjoy the junkyard finds. We are both about the same age and I remember the malaise era cars from my pre-teen years quite well. Keep em’ coming.

    The Capri’s with the hopped up V-8’s later on were actually pretty cool and are somewhat collectible now because they are so rare.

    My big sister, a new ford employee in 1980 bought a very similar fox plain jane brown 1980 V-6 stang in 1980. She had been driving to that point a jet blue 1964 Dodge coupe, which was a bought from a widow and was a well cared for garage queen. The Blue Jet would of been a great first car for me, but it was another 2 years until I could drive . Anyway, as a 14 year old I thought that was pretty exciting that big sissy had the cool new Mustang. That car was in the family with very good service for at least 10 years but was never the same when a drunk neighbor kid ass-ended it when it was parked in front of the house late one night.

  • avatar
    MR2turbo4evr

    “…..the 255-cubic-inch Windsor V8 (119 horsepower)….” Are those numbers really correct? If yes, I’m impressed. The Japanese couldn’t have made an engine so unbelievable inefficient, even if they tried.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      The Big 3 really struggled with the new emissions requirements of the 70s and didn’t inovate (as quickly as I would have liked) with fuel injection. The LA 318V8 of Chrysler never got fuel injection during its history in passenger cars (how ever it was as solid as an anvil – and twice as fast) and the 307 Oldsmbile V8 stayed with the E-Quadrajet until the bitter end.

      Honestly Ford jumped on the fuel injected bandwagon more quickly in the mid 80s but the “variable venturi carburator” was a certified POS in the interim.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        ford may have jumped so soon because things like PROCO engine was a total failure, and the VV-carb was less than a success…. Oh, and because Ford was still under a lot of scrutiny then since having been busted by the Feds for manipulatively cheating on their emissions compliance tests.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I would not be so fast to hammer Ford for the PROCO engine project. At least they were trying something new. And the EEC-IV fuel injection system that finally came out was one of the best.

        One other thing to remember about Malaise era engines is that they could be waked up pretty easily, which is pretty much what Detroit wound up doing when injection came along. A backyard mechanic could turn one of these turkeys into a decent engine pretty easily.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      I took your challenge and looked. The closest in terms of displacement for the time I could find would be the Toyota 2F inline 6 displacing the same 4.2 L as the above. It got 135HP and 200 ft lb of torque. It was not known for its efficiency but they do tend to be incredibly long lived motors. Anyway, I guess you are right since the 2F is basically a tractor motor yet is still more powerful.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Don’t forget the ’75-’76 Chevy 262 V8 which put out a whopping 110 horsepower.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I had the Fairmont version of the Fox body car, a slow as molasses inline 6 (200CID) with 3spd auto base 4 door.

    It was billed as “fuel efficient” but the mileage given in Consumer Reports at the time said, 13 City, 18 Highway, and I read that report around 1990 and got a good laugh, efficient, my ass. It didn’t help that it could not chirp the tires if you tried, no way, no how.

    What a slug that POS was. The front end plowed very easily in turns, and you didn’t have to be going fast as the larger 6 made it terribly nose heavy and it loved to scrub the inner sections of the front tires, no matter what you did to the alignment.

    As to this car, very cool. Love the non metallic paint this car has, faded or no, I love that sky blue. If you look at the rear license plate, you can see it was actually a bit darker, though still a sky blue. Wish this color was more common these days, but I doubt it was ever all that popular in comparison to other colors available.

    My Fairmont, BTW, had I thin a slightly darker blue dash that was more or less identical to this one, but sans the “wood grain” applique and it had a grooved, if I recalled blue finish with a white painted trim around the gauge cluster. I remember the dash being flimsy and the foam like top dried out and cracked – and this was around 1990 and here in the Pacific NW where the cars don’t get nearly as sun baked as they would in SoCal say.

    Love this series BTW.

    • 0 avatar
      Sutures

      You sir, bring a tear to my eye… I miss my old ’81 Fairmont. The straight-6 200 was a slug but a bulletproof slug. Also, it was the only car that I had enough contempt for to actually saws-all the dash in half to replace the heater core. How I would love to find another one.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      My 1980 girlfriend’s stepmother had a new 1980 Thunderbird with the miserable 255 V8. That thing wouldn’t chirp the tires in reverse, even when facing dowhill. Those were the Bad Old Days for cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Emro

      I had an 80 Fairmont as my first car, it was a hand-me-down from my parents. Same spec as yours (inline-6, 3spd auto) but in the “sporty” 2-door body :D
      I have many fond memories of blasting around snow covered Canadian streets sideways, i’m glad i had a RWD car to learn car control on in my early years.
      A friend of mine at the time had an 86 Capri 5.0, it was a quick little thing!

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …i’ve been keeping my eyes on these over the last five years – in fact, i was just shopping them last night – and despite their onetime ubiquity, it’s exceptionally difficult to find an unmolested example these days which isn’t a basket case…

    …say what one will about mercury’s love affair with badge engineering, it’s a fair point, but if you were interested in any contemporaneous ford as a daily driver, the mercury variant was almost always the car to get…unfortunately, carrying an order of magnitude less production volume and nameplate recognition than the iconic mustang, capris never held their value quite as well, leaving them a ripe target for cheap project-car acquisitions…as a result, just about every capri remainng in semi-maintained condition has been gutted, stripped, and transformed into a trailer-park-budget dragstrip car, poorly-executed mustang clone, or half-finished bastard hybrid thereof…

    …personally, i think there was a niche well-served by mercury’s business model, provided sufficient differentiation, halo models, and design work exceptional enough to make the exercise worthwhile…witness the late-sixties cougar alongside the early-eighties capri, for example: in high-level trim, they offered something distinctive which the fords just couldn’t touch…still, they needed a real lincoln up top to make it work, something which hasn’t existed for decades – i’m of the camp that lincoln’s newest model is really a badge-swapped mercury done right…

    …anyway, regarding capris, i think the ’81/’82 models are the sweet spot, as the subsequent bubble butt never really worked for me, looking like tacked-on disharmonious differentiation despite its admittedly-superior ciefficient of drag…the nice thing about these earlier aesthetic-pinnacle cars is that just about every malaise-era deficiency can be remedied thanks to the mustang’s unmatched aftermarket development, provided the trailer project crowd hasn’t gotten to the car first…

    …it’s becoming more and more apparent that the fox mustangs are on their way to the same classic status enjoyed by earlier pony cars, but a well-kept high-trim t-top capri with a modern drivetrain, brakes, and suspension?..that’d be a sweet, sweet street ride indeed!..

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    If I was a car, I think I would pray to be sent to The Crusher once somebody installed a Dixie Cup ash- tray in me (and truth be known, probably long before.)

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Check out the radio set-up! LOL. Aftermarket answer to the then-available Ford Quadraphonic stereo option?!?

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      I’m sure everyone realizes that the Vienna Sausages ash receptacle was necessitated by the impressive Roadstar radio installation (which is in the OEM ashtray location).

      Just got to have the tunes…

  • avatar
    DM335

    I owned a then-new 1981 Mustang with the 255-inch V-8. If I remember correctly, Motor Trend timed 0-60 at a blistering 11 seconds. I typically saw 17 mpg–and the car had a 12.5 gallon gas tank, so I saw the gas station very regularly.

    At the time, I thought it was the greatest car ever made. For the malaise era, it really was a good car. After two years, I had to sell it when I moved to a snowier climate–the rear wheel drive and Michelin TRX tires were terrible on snow. I had the opportunity to drive my car again a few years later. I discovered that the memory of the car was a lot better than the car ever was.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The ’79s still had the 302 and I wanted one bad, and even though they were everywhere
      back in ’85, I was 16 with little in savings. I bought my ’79 Capri Ghia 5.0 with 80K mi for $800 at totalled but fixable lot. Then my problem was coming up with around 4K to fix it. I went back to the same lot and to my surprise, they had another Capri and this one was just a base Capri that had been T- boned but had the front clip I needed for $600.

      Yeah it was slow but I ditched factory 2.42 open diff gears for 3.45 limited slip and was good for 0-60 in 8 seconds and at least wouldn’t get embarrassed by chicks in CRXs and MR2s.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      TRX tires were terrible for everyone but the Michelin bottom line…

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Finding used Michelin TRXs was never a problem back then and in ’89, I got new BFG T/As at the SuperShops for it on some 15″ GT or 5.0 wheels.

  • avatar
    Gigidad

    I had the 1979 150 HP turbo w/TRX tires. For those of you fortunate enough to not remember the Malaise Era, it is aptly named. That was THE worst car I ever owned, and I have had my share of fun (Mustang II King Cobra? – yes, I worked for Ford at the time). I wore out the TRX tires in 15K miles, had to special order new ones from Michelin as replacement tires had not been made available to tire stores. The engine had horrible turbo lag, vapor locked every time I parked it, burned oil, and was towed back to the dealer so many times I stopped counting. Crashed the car when the back axle hopped over some frost heaves in a corner. I bought a CRX and have had Japanese cars ever since.

  • avatar
    Justice_Gustine

    Another of my ex-cars in junkyard finds!

    My 79 Crapi was a used up POS when I got it. If I didn’t remedy some broken part soon enough another would break. Curse of Merc. Hood latch, turn signal stalk, passenger window, driver window crank, radiator, accelerator cable, catalytic converter shield, the list of small items went on and on. Pinto motor & AT, so slow that the 84 Pulsar NX that replaced it seemed like a rocketship.

    Interesting audio upgrade. I recall FoMoCo split shaft radios that had one shaft set deeper that made after market systems fail to fit without cutting the dash.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Tried 3-times to buy a Fox. FIrst was a Capri 5.0 that had too many issues hiding under a cheapo re=spray. Next was a very nice Mustang GT with the louvered taillights that was just too pricy. Lastly, and the “one that got away” so to speak, was an LTD-LX. The dealer price at the time was, I think, about $25,000 CDN. This was a ton for an LTD, but that car was way cool. It had Recaros with the air filled lumbar and the pull out thigh support, a nice leather steering wheel from the Mustang and chrome exhaust tips. The sales person said the dealers hated these cars because the LTD crowd had no interest in a sporty LTD, the Mustang crowd had no interest in a four door, and those that really wanted it didn’t want to pay the price. In a way, the LTD-LX is like the Plymouth Superbird and Dodge Daytona in that it was the top model of its kind, but they where a hard sell when new.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Hard to beat a fox for a budget build. The Mark VII LSC would have to be my favorite spawn of this platform followed by the 87-88 Turbo Coupe just beating out the 87-88 Cougar XR-7. The only one I think I’ve yet to encounter would be the Diesel Mark VII. Id love to get ahold of one though.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      BMW-tech diesel in that model!

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Good luck keeping one of those diesel Lincolns running, though. Few were sold so parts aren’t exactly thick on the ground. Neither Ford nor BMW will be of much help, either.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        True, but you can always convert them to gas if you want to keep the body.

        I had a Caddy with an Olds 350-Diesel converted to an Olds 350-gasoline out of a junkyard in Bellflower, CA, years ago. Took less than a day and cost me under a thou. Drove it home to New Mexico that evening. No problems!

        Sold the car a couple of years later to a young airman who ended up keeping it for three years and driving it home to West Virginia after his hitch was up. After that I lost contact with him.

        You can keep any car running forever as long as you replace the worn-out or broken parts in it, and sometimes that means swapping things that will work, with minor mods.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The local ex-Chevy dealer (until GM cut him off in ’09) has a Fox Capri *convertible* and the aero ’80s Lincoln Mark whatever that he tools around in every so often.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    A friend of mine brother has an ’86 Capri RS 5.0 T-Top with Mustang rear hatch (he hated round corners of Capri hatch) in good condition (Summer driven only). A friend has an ’89 Mustang LX Sport (5.0) with Saleen front spoiler, side and rear skirts by Dech (also Summer driven only). With headers, 3.73 gears and rear disc conversion. Next step – blower.

  • avatar
    James2

    The 1980 Ford Mustang I had was quite possibly The Worst Car Ever. The one-barrel-carb 3.3-liter straight six was quite possibly The Worst Engine Ever. It stalled and stalled and stalled. When it was stalling on me it was moving the car Very Slowly. Erosion happens faster. The open wound, I mean, the yawning gap in the rear side bulkhead, the dealer said “they are all like that.” Quality is Job One? Not in 1980. This car was so lousy it drove my dad, a long-time Ford guy, into the welcoming arms of the Japanese.

    It looked good, though.

  • avatar
    FPF422

    I am amazed by the poor power/displacement ratio of those engines… and an other reason to be happy to be an European!

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Don’t feel too superior. You need to remember that horsepower is a function of torque and rpm. Malaise-era engines in the US might have had low horsepower numbers but that’s because in many cases they were tuned to deliver maximum torque at low rpm’s and weren’t intended to be high revvers. A big-block American engine from the 1970s might only have been rated at 200-230 net hp or so but they still generated huge amounts of torque – they just didn’t rev very high and with the tall gearing of the time there was no real need to go much over 3,000 rpm anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Besides that, mass market European cars of the same era didn’t have enough power to run the accessories on an average American car. Engines less than 1.5 liter with a single carburetor were common. Top speeds in the high 80s and 0-60 acceleration only ever seen in diesels in the US were standard features of the base models of every mass market European car, and plenty of people bought them precisely that way. The standard engine in the strong selling Ford Escort MKIII was a 1.1 liter overhead valve Valencia. Maybe it had a higher specific output than any naturally aspirated 1981 Capri, but it still had something like 55 gross hp. The popular Oped Kadett D of the same era started out with 53 hp and a screaming top speed of 87 mph. The base VW Golf of the period had 49 hp.

        Even though the European cars we received didn’t perform as well as their equivalent home models due to our earlier adaptation of emissions and safety regulations, we never received the base drivetrains common in Europe. The US 320i wasn’t as fast as a European market 320i or 320/6, but the ones I saw the most of when I lived in the Netherlands were 315 models with 1.6 liter carbureted engines and 75 hp.

      • 0 avatar
        FPF422

        and the Alfa Romeo DOHC 1.75 had 135 bhp…
        and what made the difference in perf for European cars in the States at that time was the lower octane gas…
        Also, European cars of that time were much lighter than any US production… The 1980 European Capri V6 had an output of 160 bhp from a 3.0L and you could order a RS which was upped to 190 bhp and was good for 132 mph (my Uncle had a Yellow one with a black vinyl roof)
        …and another thing… the numbers given by US car makers were taken at the engine… European car makers were giving the numbers of the output at the wheel… and the difference is quite sizeable…
        So I don’t feel superior, we have a different way to drive, different types of roads.. but I prefer my cars to be responsive and able to go around corners

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        We had lower octane gas in the US because lead was being eliminated from fuel. Most new American cars had catalytic converters by 1975 and unleaded gasoline was mandatory. Meanwhile, European drivers continued to spew lead into the environment until the 1990s.

        Second of all, the fuel crises of the 1970s shocked Detroit into a mass downsizing and lightening program. A 1976 Buick Electra weighed 4,700 pounds. By 1985, the Electra was down to 3,200-3,300 pounds. With the proper options, the 1985 Buick could handle as well as some more-expensive European sedans of the time. By the early to mid 1980s, performance was making a big comeback as US cars got lighter, gas prices stabilized, and electronic fuel injection became universal. Many US cars offered very impressive handling with the right options. Now a 2012 Corvette that costs $50,000 can challenge European exotics costing many times more in performance, handling, and braking, plus the American car is likely more reliable and costs far less to service.

        Third, US horsepower has been rated at SAE net since 1971-1972 and the net ratings are far lower and more accurate than the old gross ratings. And you’re wrong about European horsepower being measured at the wheels. According to the DIN specification, it is measured at the engine output shaft just like the SAE net standard.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      The fact that even the most smog choked V8 from the 70’s can be transformed into a 400+hp beast for less money than a valve job on some of those goofy european sports cars makes me happy to be American :)

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Heres the problem with all that powertorque, its being used to move what are generally blocky heavy cars.

        I’ve had a V6 Mustang with no catty that had just 64k with 128hp, a Horizon with 89k and 87hp, and a Toyota with 125k and probably just 86hp thanks to a Weber carb. All of these automatics.

        The Tercel feels like a rocket compared to the US stuff.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Wow, that’s funny. A tercel couldn’t get out of it’s own way.

      • 0 avatar
        geo

        My aunt drove an ’82 Tercel for many years. In spite of it having been babied since new, it was slow, uncomfortable, rusty, unreliable, and ran poorly. And gas mileage wasn’t that great to boot. As a teenager, I wondered why this vehicle was so revered by the public. Now I understand that it has the privilege of being Japanese, and not subject to the same standards as American vehicles.

        I also understand that some of the later Tercels had awful, expensive oil-burning problems.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        I’m not buying this “Tercel feels like a rocket” business, either. I’ve driven too many of them even with stickshifts. Even a four-cylinder Chevy Celebrity felt livelier and more athletic.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    The Fox-Capri was the nicest of the fox sports cars in my book, it had a mature front-end that didn’t get a face-lift every 7 months which meant that you don’t have to worry about specific years when you buy a new lense or grille.

    However, without a V6 these things are gutless. I owned an ’84 notchback stage with a 3.8 that was just a dud as far as speed, and the only way that it could burn rubber was from its serious front-weight bias, thus I’d often burn rubber by accident. The real stupid thing is I had to find 3 or 4 different sets of sun visors to get any that had the right screw pattern.

    The turbo-Pinto motors no good either, I drove a Merkur XrT4i with that same motor and it was just incredibly gutless.

    Years later I owned a Horizon with a plain 2.2, that sadly felt slightly quicker than both of those cars.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Had a 1983 Mustang with 3.8 V6 CARBURETED! with 3 speed pre-AOD. Funny thing is, it had the same gear shift as my dad’s 1982 Eagle SX/4. And this was brown on brown, total, unequivocal, TURD.

    http://alienusedcars.com/image.cgi?1168&1983307326WY_6_7325.dat

    It looked similar to that. I did ditch the malaise-era hubcaps, however…

  • avatar

    Damn, why couldn’t you have popped the hood?!?! I need a stick shift transmission for the Billy Beer Futura, and its nearly impossible to find a 3.3l/200 six with the 4 speed hooked up to it. I would be willing to make the drive if this was one of them.

    Say what you will about that motor, you can’t kill it. Shifting the C4 manually at Sears Point last month I accidentally hit 6000rpm a couple of times without a hitch. More power is coming, don’t worry, Just looking for 1 more Carter YF carb, or 2 more Holley 1946’s to home brew a tri-power for Buttonwillow.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    The 84-85 LTD LX did not have the EFI 302 that 86-93 Stangs had. So, that is why the Cop cars were slower than the Mustangs.

    Capris could be had with 302 in 1979, and that was its biggest sales year. The best to get is an ’86 with EFI and not turn it into one of numerous drag Fox-stangs.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    A friend had one – actually his wifes , a 1980 Capri with the six /4 speed . At the time it was about 9 years old and even then it was a junkyard find , as the wife’s family owned a junkyard and resurrected it . He always called it not too fondly , the Crapri , and it was slow , clumsy handling and something was always broken . As I recall the ashtray was even broken like this one and he had rigged up a similiar tin can in a similiar way . It was a charcoal color , popular this year and maybe due to that people kept running into it and the wife kept collecting insurance settlements . This years Capri sucked but was no doubt better than the early seventies Capris which were completely unreliable .

  • avatar
    Johnster

    The European Capri and Capri II were great cars for their time when equipped with the 2.6 and 2.8 liter V-6 engines, even in American trim. But by the late 1970s currency exchange rates had made the Capri II comparatively expensive and not price-competitive.

    The American Mercury Capri of 1979 was Lincoln-Mercury’s attempt to hang onto those Capri buyers with a more price-competitive vehicle. Marketing studies showed that Capri and Capri II owners considered the 1979 Mercury Capri to have much the same spirit as the original Capris and to be a natural continuation of the line.

    As has been noted by other members of the B&B, just like the ’79 Mustang, the ’79 Capri was available with a 2.3 liter 4, a 2.8 liter V-6, a 5.0 liter V-8 and a 2.3 liter turbo 4, with the 3.3 liter 6 a late addition to the lineup that year. Initially the 2.8 liter V-6 was only available with a 3-speed automatic transmission, but before it was replaced by the 3.3 liter 6, a handful of 2.8 liter V-6s were produced with a 4-speed manual transmission.

    The 2.3 liter turbo was not very reliable and the 5.0 liter V-8 was still putting out something like only 140 horsepower, and it made the cars nose-heavy. The rare ’79 Ford Mustangs and ’79 Mercury Capris with the V-6 and 4-speed were considered by many to be the nicest of the early Fox-chassis Mustangs and Capris with the best balance of performance, handling, and gas mileage.

    My understanding is that the V-6 engine was still coming from Europe for installation in these cars and that the same currency exchange rates that drove the Capri II from the U.S. market, drove out the optional 2.8 liter V-6 engine in the Mustang and Capri, which was a pity.

    Another rarity in these cars was an odd 5-speed manual transmission that was made available late in the 1979 model year as an option with the standard 2.3 liter 4. It had a weird dog-leg shift-pattern with first-gear up and to the left all by itself. You then shifted down and back up to second-gear. Well, at least the second-gear to third and the forth-gear to fifth shifts were direct, which was supposedly what the Ford engineers were intending with the odd design. I’m not sure how long this 5-speed was in production but it was eventually replaced with one with a more conventional shift pattern.

  • avatar
    MattPete

    While I respect the Fox Mustang and Capri, I never really understood how they were supposed to be sporting (the big motor of the later version being the only qualifier). Compared to the GM F-bodies of the era (Firebird & Camara), the Capristang was upright (vs. low-slung) and pedestrian.

    I remember a review of the Holden Commodore circa 1990 in “Automobile” magazine. The Aussies had a chance to review the Mustang of the era. Their consensus was that if Ford should stretch the chassis a few inches (for rear seat room) and add independent rear suspension, then Ford would have had a killer 3-series & Biturbo fighter.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      It depends how you define “sporting”. American ponycars weren’t about handling finesse though the can corner more capably than you might think. The cars were about style, go for the money, and ease and low cost of ownership. They were never intended to be 3-series or Biturbo fighters – if they were, they would be more complex and cost a lot more. The Fox Mustang might not be as swoopy as a GM F-body, but it’s more practical and comfortable on a day-to-day basis, and the sales figures reflected that. Don’t forget that a current Mustang GT can put a serious scare in an M3 on a road course, even though it has a solid rear axle and costs over $25,000 less.

      • 0 avatar
        MattPete

        I define sporting as something that looks like it is purposefully made for sporting purposes. Firebirds and Camaros were low-slung and looked like they were made to go fast.

        Mustang’s of that era were as sexy (and upright) as an ’84 Honda Accord (and in some trim levels, was no faster). Yeah, they eventually came with a monster motor, but they still looked dull (don’t get me started on the tarted-up louvered taillights).

        “….The cars were about style….” <- Exactly. And the first Fox bodies had no style.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Matt, the F bodies were definitely sleeker looking than the mustang, and they also handled better. 5.0 mustang buyers didn’t care. They wanted a musclecar that could be made to run, which they got. The looks of the camaro/firebird didn’t do them much good when the drivers of such cars found themselves looking at those “tarted up” louvered taillights.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        “And the first Fox bodies had no style.”

        You might think that, but except for a few years in the early 1980s the Mustang consistently outsold the F-bodies, so lots of buyers disagreed. In some years, Mustang sold better than the Camaro and Firebird combined.

        Year: Mustang/Camaro

        79:*369,936/ 282,571
        80: 271,322/ 152,005
        81: 181,552/ 126,139
        82: 130,418/*189,747
        83: 120,873/ 154,318
        84: 135,678/ 261,591
        85: 156,514/ 180,018
        86: 224,410/ 192,219
        87: 159,145/ 137,760
        88: 211,225/ 96,275
        89: 209,769/ 110,850
        90: 128,189/ 35,048
        91: 98,737/ 101,316
        92: 79,280/ 70,712
        93: 114,228/ *39,755

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      The 5.0 mustang was a drag racing terror because it could be made to go like stink with minimal effort and not alot of cash. And it had a fairly stout drivetrain. It took more work and cash to make an F body as fast, and they had weak drivelines.

      • 0 avatar
        MattPete

        um, outsold != style. Heck, the Ford Escort outsold the Ferrari 308, but that doesn’t mean that it has more style.

        Cripes, are you 12?

        The Mustang and Capri sold more because they were cheaper and had more usable room (and a more upright seating position). The Firebird and Camaro had far better styling, and consistently trounced the Muscapri at the race track. Not that I think that that is the be-all and end-all, but to deny that the Muscapri had a plain-jane wrapper is to have blinders on.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        You could say the same about the contemporary BMW 3-series – it was upright and boxy. Not everyone equates low and swoopy with style. Besides, the 2nd-gen Camaro/Firebird were closing in on a decade in age by the time the Fox Mustang was introduced. It also didn’t hurt that the base Mustang was over 800 pounds – yes, 800 – lighter than the base Camaro.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        No one is denying that the F body was sleeker and more modern looking than the mustang. Doesn’t necessarily mean that it was better looking, that is a matter of personal taste, just like with all other designs. I’m sure there are a few souls that find a sebring or aztec attractive.
        I would hardly call the mustang GT ugly. One of the magazines that tested the mustang/camaaro back in 88 noted that the camaro was sleeker, more aerodynamic and modern looking than the mustang GT. They also went on to say that the GT had a more intimidating, muscular look. They went on to say that the mustang’s looks said “let’s meet in the alley.”
        Many drag racers opted for the 5.0 with the LX package to save weight. Does it look like they cared about ‘sleek and sporting” looks?
        I’m not sure what type of tracks you are referring to, but the 2nd gen F bodies sure didn’t beat the mustangs on the drag strips or at the stoplights.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        I meant to say 3rd gen.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        By 1979, the F-body had been around for nine years and was looking too familiar – old and fat compared to the newer designs. It was the product of an out-of-date styling ethic. Road tests of the time criticized the F-cars as being sloppy and loose relics compared to the Fox Mustang.

      • 0 avatar
        MattPete

        Interesting that the only defenders of the Fox styling have FLM cars and symbols in their avatars.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        I believe Moparman426W’s avatar is a Chrysler. Though my avatar is the old Lincoln hood ornament, the only Ford I’ve ever owned was a ’65 Mustang and that was ages ago. I’m partial to Hondas myself.

        To use your words….
        “Cripes, are you 12?”

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Tonyola, yes the car used for my avatar is a chrysler 5th ave. that belongs to one of my wife’s co-workers.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’m late to the show here, but I recall thinking that the Fox body Mustang and Capri looked pretty great and advanced when they came out. Hell, the dreaded TRX wheels were essentially three spoke versions of the Lancia Scorpion’s rims, the sheetmetal locked taute and crisp while the bumpers were well integrated after an era of blobby nightmares with tacked on battering rams. The 1979 Capri had box flares, and I can think of lots of other cars that adopted the look, but none that came out sooner. I am not a Ford lover, and the ugly truth was that the nice looking early Fox Mustangs had drivetrains as unappealing as what they’re selling now. The big marketing push was behind the Turbo, and it was a paper tiger with serious reliability issues. Whether the results were ‘sporting’ or not, I can tell you that a number of my neighbors traded in sports cars for their early Fox Mustangs.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    My Fox body 1987 T-Bird was one of the best vehicles I have every owned. I bought it in 1994 from a relative (He did regret not ordering the 5.0) Granted the 3.8 TBI V6 only put out 120 hp it still moved along nicely considering it had 3 catalytic converters. 2 off of the Y pipe (preheaters)and one in the center. I bought it with 85k and sold it 13+ years later with 187k after the head gasket blew and I did not want to spring for repairs. It ran great for all of those years with normal maintenance; oil changes, front suspension, egr, sensors and exhaust, A/C fitting repair (a common 80’s Ford problem) as well as putting a K&N filter in it for a few more HP. Even the light blue paint held up well for 20 yrs since it had the optional clear coat.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I owned the RS Turbo version of this car. I bought it in late 1980 after the 1981’s were on sale. It turned out to be one of the worst cars I’d ever owned. There were constant problems with stalling, the head gasket, the turbo itself and other engine related issues. I dread the smell of antifreeze because of that car.

    I bought a 1983 Trans Am to replace the Capri Turbo, it too was a POS. Another story for another time. By then, the “Quality is Job 1″ commercials were having an effect, and I bought a 1985 Capri RS V8 for my then-fiancee. It ran well for the first 18 mos., then the fun began. The car had all kinds of strange things fail, like the seals in the power steering rack and the tail shaft bearings in the 5 speed transmission.

    After we got through the first year with the 1985 Capri, I thought the curse of the 1980 Capri was over; I bought myself the 1986 version of the same car. As the problems mounted with the 85, I really feared having the same issues with the 86, but as luck would have it, the 1986 ran fine for the three years I owned it.

    I grew up in a Ford owning family, my dad loved his Fairlanes, Montereys and Montegos. But my experiences with those Capris seriously changed my faith in FoMoCo, so much so, I haven’t owned one of their products in many years now.


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