By on September 21, 2012

Until about the mid-1980s, the German-built Ford Capri was a fairly common site on the American street (well, at least it was a common sight in California, where I grew up). Available in the United States through 1978, the Capri was sold as, simply, “the Capri.” Because Mercury dealers sold the things, the car became known as the Mercury Capri, and the identification became more confused when the Fox-based Mustang-sibling Mercury Capri came out with Mercury badging. Since that time, really tedious anoraks have jumped down the throats of those who made the mistake of referring to the European Capri as a Mercury, and the rest of us don’t care. The Capri has mostly disappeared, but every once in a while I see a completely thrashed one in a junkyard. Here’s a ’75 that I found a few weeks ago in California.
The ’73 energy crisis had Detroit scrambling to import fuel-sipping machines from their overseas divisions. The West German-built Capri was much more successful for Ford USA than was the “Buick/Opel” was for GM.
The 2.8 liter “Cologne” V6 in this car made 90 horsepower. That doesn’t sound like much for a 2,500-pound car— and it wasn’t much— but standards during the Malaise Era were low.
When I get around to doing Patina Wallpapers to go with the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™ Junkyard and Thrown Rod Wallpapers, I’ll use this shot for sure.

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66 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1976 Capri II aka Mercury Capri aka Ford Capri...”


  • avatar

    What are the odds of finding the original Capri and the last Capri together in the junkyard?

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I love the font on the gauges, but I’d be prying that build plate off the door if I could. The Capri name was a doomed nameplate here in the US because of Fords ineptitude at bringing cars here prior to 2010, as evidenced by the last Capri next to this one.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Actually, what doomed the Australian Capri convertible here in the States was the Miata. It’s really one of the most legendary examples of a good idea executed at precisely the wrong time. And it’s not Ford’s fault. Mazda just caught most everyone napping.

  • avatar
    mjz

    The original version I think was marketed as “the Sexy European”.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      I believe that was a later 71-72 ad campaign.

      the original, late 1970 tag line was “Mustang’s European cousin.”

      And how ironic was it that the Miata killed this off…because the Capri convertible was a Mazda 323 platform…

  • avatar
    What-the-_

    I had one of these I “restored” in the early 90′s, when I say restored I mean, cobbled together as best I could with limited funding, and made it look decent. Was a very fun little car actually. with a offy 4 brl dual plane intake, headers, 3-7000 cam, it was pretty quick too. I miss it, but wouldn’t take it back, which is a shame

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I had one of these in HS as my first car; I think a 76-77. I had no idea it only made 90 horsepower because it behaved much quicker than that. I put a holly two barrel on and it would stay with a 240Z from stop to 110mph nose to nose. In many ways they were much nicer cars than their domestic rivals. Split fold rear seats, full set of instruments, cool map light on A-pillar, Dual exhaust. The weak link was the transmission, it could barely handle the V6’s torque. I went through every 4sp available out of NE Iowa scrap yards until there were no more.

  • avatar
    markholli

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these on US roads. In fact, when James May bought one for the rear wheel drive challenge on top gear, I thought, “hmm…they must not have imported that in the US.”

    Of course, now that I know they were imported I’ll probably see one today.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      As Murilee wrote, if you grew up in California between 1970 and 1980, you saw lots of these, both Capri II’s like this, and the earlier Capri 1600, 2000, 2300,2600, etc.

      To me and others, they were what the bloated ’71-73 Mustangs and later Mustang II’s should have been, and fortunatly Ford brought these in temporarily.

      About a year ago, a guy in Santa Ana, CA sold one on eBay, a ’77 Capri II V6, in near new condition, for around $3800. Had I known about the listing earlier and what the ultimate selling price would be, it would have been worth my time to fly out there and drive the car back.

      As used cars, I’ve had a 1970 1600 with a/c(beautiful car, absolutely no power), a 1972 2000, and a 1977 Capri II Decor V6, all in their own way lovely cars.

      As for what to call them, Murilee, I just use Capri, and what model(II if that applies) and what motor. I don’t use Mercury.

      I’ve already chimed in on the Capri/ Opel Manta comparison, but both were neat cars for their time, I think.

      • 0 avatar
        econobiker

        “if you grew up in California between 1970 and 1980″

        One of the classic Peterson “magazine” books about engine swaps (circa 1981) had an article about a SoCal guy who had a Chevy 350 V8 put into one of the Capri’s along with lowering it. Always thought it was a neat idea along the lines of a 240/260Z V8 conversion.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Hmmm… the Mustang had completed its evolution as a musclecar by 1967 with the introduction of 390. Its funny people pick on the 2nd largest Mustangs of all time (the current Mustang is the largest heaviest Mustang ever) which was designed to comfortably house a 429 and cater to the personal luxury market.

        And it would be interesting to have seen how a euro Capri and Mustang II stacked up performance wise as it was no contest in the sales department with the Mustang II being a pretty good seller.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        Over on the Hemmings daily blog for today is a classified ad for a 1976 Capri II, in which one of the previous owners has installed a turbocharged 2.3 four cylinder motor(see ‘Merkur XR4Ti’ and ‘Mustang SVO’. The asking price is $12,000 obo. Sounds like a case of the owner making modifications that he alone likes, and then hoping to get his cost of the mod back. Wish them luck. If a bone stock Capri II V6 in great condition can sell only for $3800, what can this hybrid mess be worth?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Some years these were the second best selling imported cars in the US after the VW Beetle. Ford didn’t support them very well with parts availability once the Fox Capristang was introduced, so they were scrapped in huge numbers during the early ’80s. Do not buy an imported Ford is one of those rules right up there with don’t invade Russia in the winter. They hung buyers of English Cortinas and German Fiestas out to dry too, but at least they didn’t try to incinerate them like buyers of American Fords.

      • 0 avatar
        roger628

        Not to mention Merkur XR4ti and Scorpio owners, who were out a lot more money than in earlier cases.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        I must have been extremely lucky. As used cars, I had three Capri’s, five Fiesta’s, two XR4Ti’s. Very dependable all, so I guess I didn’t experience the disappointment at the Ford/Mercury parts counter that others did. I’m not debating the poor experience they had, though,

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        @roger628, while Merkur buyers may have been stung more individually, the thing about the Mercury Capri is that it was a big seller. Ford sold more than half a million Capris through US Mercury dealers between 1970 and 1978. Between XR4Tis and Scorpios, they only sold 51,000 Merkurs.

        @snakebit, Capris and Fiestas were certainly more appealing than Mustang IIs and Pintos, but maintenance parts did become a problem for many in the days before the internet and widespread import specialists. Many were bought by people who were loyal to US brands and therefore lived places where import brands weren’t as well supported. When domestic service specialists abandoned the Ford captive imports, said owners were out of luck.

    • 0 avatar
      zuma_zuma

      I see one almost daily. It was on road daily til recent cylinder head issue. Now I see it in yard. Mines a 1973 mercury capri 2000

  • avatar
    markholli

    Did the Cologne 2.8 V6 live on to inflict the early 80′s Ford Ranger with it’s mediocrity? Maybe “mediocre” is too generous a word…

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      The basic engine lived on all the way to 2010 as the 4.0 SOHC V6 in the Ranger and Explorer.

      I’ve got a 300,000 mile pushrod example, and while gutless, its a willing partner.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      The cologne. V6 lasted until the 2012 Ranger, between that and all the explorers on the road there will be millions out there for years to come. It’s only weak point was the timing chain guides that would eventually wear out, the chains would slack and eventually snap. Put a new set on and you are good for another 250k. Which for Ford truck engines is just average, I have seen numerous mod motors straight six engines over a million.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    oh my, “the sexy european” doesn’t look so sexy now does it? iirc that was the tagline in the ads.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I liked the 1st generation’s styling better than this 2nd generation’s (rear side windows are too Rambler Marlin-ish). In any case, we had a neighbor in the late 1970′s that owned a special edition version of one of these, which looked pretty good. Black with gold striping, it was called the John Player Special.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Before I looked into it, I, too, thought these black versions of the Capri II were called JP Specials.

      Turns out I had a newspaper article from April 1976 that explains that that IS what they were called in Europe(named for a brand of cigarette). In the States, they were called the Capri II “S”.

      Here’s the standard equipment list for the “S” that differs from the base Capri II:black or white exterior with gold striping, gold finish styled steel wheels(alloys like the Ghia wheels optional with gold accents), dual racing mirrors, heavy-duty suspension, gold luxury cloth seating with black vinyl trim, individual contoured rear seats with individually folding backs, black instrument panel, steering wheel and carpet, upgraded sound insulation. It doesn’t list it separately for this edition, but because the interior basically amounts to the decor group package, it shares push-out quarter glass as standard, as do the regular decor group package and the Ghia.

      Again, any model of the Capri II could be had with what Ford called
      the Capri II V-6 Option, and I’m quoting:2.8 litre OHV 6-cylinder engine, heavy-duty 4-speed manual transmission, larger clutch, larger brakes, 185/70HR-13 steel-belted radials, dual exhaust system,
      larger capacity cooling system.

      I tried to find a listing for the horsepower ratings for the four cylinder and the V6. It’s not in the press kit, the sales brochures, or owners manuals for either 1976 or 1977.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeB4

        The Capri S was the option of black details like – bumpers, mirrors, door handles etc. — in Europe and with GT stronger engines — but the JPS was a special option to the “S” Capri here. The side stripes on S models were black f.e on green, blue , white cars. JPS was a special edition with just black body paint & black details + gold stripes, 2 tone seats and gold wheels. Some of them were made white. You could buy “S” in more colours than just black (or white).

        The 2600 V6 for USA was rated 107 HP and the 2800 was rated 109 HP – due to emmision levels (2800 Capri II had f.e a catalytic converter and egr system – not used in Europe in that time). At nearly the same time European Ford Granada used a carb 2800 which had 135 HP.

        In Europe from the beggining of Capri you had a choice of engines from 1300 up to 3000 V6 — the 2600 in Europe was 125 HP on carb or 150 HP in the fuel injection RS2600.. In Capri II in Europe (from 1974) the 2600 was discontinued. There was a range of 4 cylinders and 2.0 V6 (90HP) 2.3 V6 (114HP) and a top 3.0 V6 (138HP) – and no fuel injection anymore – until 1981 2.8 injection rated 160 HP – model made to the end in 1987.

        Why so weak engines were used in Federal Capri ? To don’t compete with american similar size Fords too much. But the sales were great. About 25% of the world Capri production went on american market. That’s a lot. Probably about 300.000 Mk1′s and 100.000 Mk2′s were exported to USA looking at the production numbers. In 19 years of the European Ford Capri history almost 2 milons were made (1,2 milion Mk1 in 1969-1973 – a lot more than 1969-1973 Mustangs were made).

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        I had some questions about the junkyard Capri, mainly the standard interior didn’t match what first looked like Ghia exterior side moulding marks, and a friend gave me a VIN plate decoder, so I’ll relay what I found out, starting with the first row:

        Type GECP German plant, three door hatchback
        Version D Standard model (not Decor Group or Ghia)
        Vehicle No. GAECRS
        GA German plant, Cologne
        EC Capri
        RS build date July 1975
        Second row

        Drive 1 Lefthand drive
        Eng PX 2800 V6
        Trans B 4-speed manual
        Axle L 3.09:1 ratio (49-state emissions)
        Colour(can’t read)
        Trim KF/XF Light Tan vinyl

      • 0 avatar
        MikeB4

        In states the Black + Gold version was called Black Cat … or Le Cat Black — it was advertised as Capri S …. but were there different colours on USA market ? I don’t know. Or just white/black

        here a link to the brochure
        http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7272/7493979192_8afc6f659b_o.jpg

        not JPS – John Player Special (ciggaretes brand that sponsored Ford in racing)… was the edition od Capri S available only in Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      I just caught your Marlin remark. Boy, you can sure wound a guy if you try. Just to give you a quick bit of history. The Marlin was based on a styling exercise called the Rambler Tarpon (sort of a fastback version of the ’64 Rambler American, their compact). When Time magazine came out with their cover story about the new Ford Mustang, they also included pictures of the Barracuda and the Rambler Tarpon. I always wondered why AMC decided to base the fastback on the bigger Classic and later(1967) the Ambassador(DPL). Seems to me they could have sold more of the smaller Tarpons. See if the Tarpon comes on a Google Image search, to see what I mean.

      • 0 avatar
        WildcatMatt

        Blame AMC CEO Roy Abernethy for that one.

        The designers made the Tarpon to combat the Mustang, but because Abernethy wanted to go head-to-head with the Big Three across the board, he decreed that the car had to be larger and target the personal luxury market instead.

        And while I kinda like the Marlin, a Riviera it isn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        WildcatMatt,
        If anything can make sense of why AMC bumped up the size of the Marlin, wanting to compete in the personal luxury category goes some way towards that end, though as you posted, the Marlin is no Riviera, and I’ll add, it’s no Thunderbird, not even a Grand Prix or(you must have seen this coming)the often-overlooked Wildcat. If I were to pick a favorite Marlin, it would be the 1967 model, because it looks like AMC spent more time thinking about that model than the earlier ones.

  • avatar
    Wildfair

    My younger sister got a new Capri of this vintage for her sixteenth birthday. It was quite well screwed together with a nice interior. Unfortunately, it was the slowest car I have ever driven. Handling was better than average for the era.

  • avatar
    mossmiller

    My friend had a bright yellow 74 Capri with black vinyl interior, very sporty, was a well-made car although the emission control system caused some issues, like when the engine was slow to lose revs during shifting. It was his first stick shift, and he later traded it in on a silver ’76 VW Scirocco. Myself, I stuck with a ’73 BMW 2002, also bright yellow, during those years.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      I agree with your comment about Ford emissions systems, I hated the AirInjectionRecirculation pumps,always freezing up.

      As for ‘stuck with a ’73 BMW 2002′, where I come from, that’s akin to saying, ‘I got stuck with winning the lottery’, i.e. given the choice of the Capri or the BMW 2002, we would have jumped at the chance to be able to afford the 2002. The Scirocco would have been fine, as well. The optimum 2002 would have been the ’73 or ’74 2002 tii, with fuelie.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    That Cologne 2.6/2.8 liter V6 in this and the downsized Stang were not a very memorable engine. I remember growing up as a kid and owners of these cars were always having trouble with leaks, knocks, starting- running behavior issues and some failed heads. It seems like it took Ford until the 4.0 variant to get this one right.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Actually some significant changes made to the Cologne V-6 in Europe in the late 1980′s (roughly 1987 IIRC) solved most of the issues. The entire timing drive system was redesigned, the heads were redesigned and the siamesed ports were finally banished for good. A whole host of other improvements were made at this same time, and the engine was a lot smoother, quieter and made much better torque and horsepower – competitive for the era.

      The only major weaknesses with the improved 2.9L that we got over here included occasional head gasket failures and occasional head cracks. These seemed to mostly afflict Bronco II and Ranger applications for some reason, and are not widely common on the Merkur Scorpio version of the 2.9L. I know plenty of folks with lots of miles on Scorpios with the original, untouched 2.9L.

  • avatar

    My dad always wanted one of these.

    I’m thinking maybe I’ll buy him a totally wretched example come bonus/tax return time next year.

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    Back in high school in the early 80′s, a classmate had one of these with a built 215 Buick aluminum V8 and Muncie 4 speed in it. THAT was a killer combo, 200HP, V8 torque, and no more nose heavy than stock

  • avatar
    Wscott97

    I’m curious about the last gen Capri next to it. It looks like the car came straight from the used car dealership with the price tag of $1299 still on the windshield. Wonder why did they decide to scrap it?

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      _Sat on their lot too many years?
      _Dealer went bust, skipped town leaving most of his (or the bank’s) inventory behind, someone, probably some budding banker, had to clean up the mess and gave the whole shitaree to the scrap yard?

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      As far as the last gen Capri goes if it’s an automatic chances are it had transmission issues which cost more than $1299 to fix. The manual was far more reliable. I see plenty of these for sale, decent ones in the $1500-4k range. Tempting alternate to a British roadster for weekend and summer cruising and far more reliable.

  • avatar
    rampriscort

    I had two of these, a brown 76 and a 73 that was rust orange, which was good because you couldn’t tell how bad it was. I too am shocked to hear 90hp, I made many trips through the hills of WV and they were excellent GTs, surprising some other cars on the long climb up Sideling Hill, before they cut the mountain and made it I-68. I found them surprisingly good in snow as well, especially the 73.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    You’re not kidding about these things becoming rare by the mid 1980s, they really are virtually extinct today. I’ve never seen one on the road, and did try to go shopping for a vintage Capri a few years ago, but gave up when not a single one could be located.

    What accounts for the rarity? They sold fairly well in the 1970s, are not known for any major quality or reliability issues, and are still pretty common and desirable in the UK; yet, in the US, they’ve vanished without a trace.

    Always thought these were cool looking cars, and the compact dimensions and lighter weight are certainly appealing.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      If you’re serious about locating a Capri, learn everything you need to know about each model, and then search for the model you want in Florida or California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona (Craigs List or other classified ad source).

      In general, for the US market, they offered only the 1600 four speed in 1970, the addition of the 2000 OHC in 1971, only the 2000 four cylinder and a 2600 V6 for 1972, a 2300 four cylinder and V6 for 1973, same for 1974 but with heavier bumpers, then skipped a model year designation and 1976 was the first Capri II hatchback with 2300 four cylinder or 2800 V6 (the junkyard car is a 1976 V6, by the emissions sticker) and ends with the same engine options for the last year in the States, 1977. First gen Capri came with,IIRC, bigger brakes and tires on the V6, and both had available option of nicer Decor Pkg interior. Capri II came in four trim levels: standard, Decor, Ghia, and a limited edition(for Ford) Black version with gold accents , Decor Pkg, and special wheels. V6 was an option on all four versions of Capri II. The 1977 version is distinguished by having the light and wiper switch on the steering column, previous years had push buttons on the instrument panel.

      • 0 avatar
        Johnster

        To elaborate on Snakebit’s comments, the 1972 2000 4-cylinder models had a lower compression ratio (probably to meet emission control laws) than the previous year and are not as desirable as the 1971 2000s. Oh, and you could still get a 1600 in 1972, although it too was less powerful than the 1971 1600 and even fewer buyers bought one. The 2600 V6 was not available at the start of the 1972 model year, but was introduced in the spring of 1972.

        1973 saw a minor face lift with larger rear taillamps and the front bumper pushed out to meet U.S. federal bumper regulations. The 2800 V6 was introduced in 1974, along with larger body-colored bumpers.

        Technically, there were no 1975 Capris, although the new redesigned 1976 Capri II had an early introduction in the late spring of 1975.

        What really seemed to do in these cars in the U.S. market was the currency exchange rates in the mid and late 70s which made these cars comparatively expensive in the U.S. At about this same time we saw the German Opel leave the U.S. market and be replaced by the mediocre, but lower-priced, Opel Isuzu; and Volkswagen opened a U.S. plant to keep prices lower.

        These European Capris were only sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers. I lived in a rural area when these cars were sold new and there were comparatively few Lincoln-Mercury dealers around, though there were quite a few Ford-Mercury dealerships but the Ford-Mercury dealership did not sell Capris until the American 1979 model which was officially a Mercury.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    I knew a family that had one, and what I remember is that when it needed an alternator it was $190.00 (in 1978-79 money which is app. $670.00 today).

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Ah the Ford Crapi. This was the nearest thing many people got to a Pony car in the UK, and still have a rabid following to this day. I worked with a guy who owned three of them – a MK1, MK2 & MK3. In every one he had a sack of cement in the spare wheel well in the back – they were quite tail happy.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Two of my friends had these in (an East Bay Area)HS. One was a 2.0 that I best remember for popping off a coolant hose after climbing the grapevine with me driving to the 82 US fest. A “big scary biker” stopped and had both a screw driver and some duct tape. Duct tape didn’t save us; I don’t remember where I scavenged a hose clamp from, but it wasn’t as critical as the broken one. The other was a 2.8 which was constantly being modified to increase HP or reduce weight. It ended up a one seat, no liner or insulation, open exhaust/over sized carburetor torture box of heat and noise. But at least it was still slow. Got outrun by early GTI’s.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    America America, where did we go wrong? The Capri was a fantastic car and as someone has said, they have a rabid following. My mum had a new 3000E GT in the early 70′s. It was seriously fast with the kent 3.0 liter V6 which came with a few tweeks such as free flow exhaust . The US versions were low compression slugs but the best Capri’s were the South African 302 powered examples. Again,Seriously fast. It is a wonder a rust free shell is still laying there as Mercedes enthusiasts in Germany will buy up 60′s Mercs and take them home and Ford guys come here to OZ and buy our old escorts etc.
    And let us not forget ,it was a Capri V6 which beat the legendary mercedes 6.8 red sow at SPA in 1972.

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    Well, obviously the malaise-era cars were not held to very high expectations… an odometer with only five digits cannot show 100k miles, but maybe this one turned over to 00,001 miles significantly more than once?

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      Oh come on, 5 digit odometers date back decades before the ‘malaise’ 70′s, kids.

      • 0 avatar
        jayzwhiterabbit

        I know, I just thought it was weird, because I’m only 30 years old. It just seems pessimistic to put just 5 digits….but I’m aware it was standard practice. I guess you’d never have a problem with running out of room with the new digital odometers. I’d love to see a modern digital odo with 1,000,000 miles on it, but I doubt it’s possible!

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        When I was in high school, you could count on American cars going 100,000 miles, and them needing an engine overhaul. When I was 30, the only car I remember indicating more than 100,000 on the odo were Volvo’s, and would work that feature into their print ads,like, “did you ever wonder why the odometer on most cars only goes to 99,999 miles. Did you ever wonder what they’re trying to tell you?”

        Very cheeky, the Swedes.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    The second-gen Capri didn’t seem to sell nearly as well as the earlier ones , though to me it always looked better , cleaner , less fussy detailing , useful hatchback . I don’t recall ever riding in one . Maybe the higher price , due to deutschmark fluctuations slowed sales. A friend of my sisters had an early one , a 1971 I think , and a GF had a ’74 with a sunroof in an attractive green . A roommate had a ’74 with the V-6 . We frequently swapped cars so he could drive one of the station wagons I had to haul film equipment . While it seemed quicker than my VW Squareback I remember lots of driveability problems , particularly stalling out . And one of the rear side popout windows fell out , typical problem as I recall. The latter two cars had the decor option , which I thought made it look classy . Another time in the late 70s went to try to buy a 1970 Capri which was only $100 . After a few tries we got it started , but then the owner moved it so his brother could leave and promptly got it stuck in the mud .

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      “one of the rear side popout windows fell out , typical problem”
      SOaB! My friend totally blamed me when the girl I was in the back with poked the popout out with her foot! If only the B&B were available back then to quote and refute him with.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    I would love to have a LHD Mk3 Capri – specifically a 2.8L Injection Special, but alas they were never available here in North America and importing one would probably be a huge hassle.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    At the behest of ‘Johnster’, I searched through my Capri files, and sure enough, as of 11/71 in the owners manual and 12/71 in the sales brochure, they did offer the 1600, 2000, and 2600 V6 for the 1972 model year. I also read the March 1972 R&T road test of the V6, and it was rated at 107hp.

    As for the dual use of 1975 and 1976 for the first Capri II in the States, by coincidence, I happened to be up in Monterey in a hotel on whose grounds Ford was shooting stills for the first Capri II as well as the Mercury Bobcat/gilded Pinto, and the license plate blanks for the Capri II clearly said ’1975′, but when I got the press kit later, the text read ’1976′, and IIRC, I got the kit around March 1975.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    “snip…Hmmm… the Mustang had completed its evolution as a musclecar by 1967 with the introduction of 390. Its funny people pick on the 2nd largest Mustangs of all time (the current Mustang is the largest heaviest Mustang ever) which was designed to comfortably house a 429 and cater to the personal luxury market.

    And it would be interesting to have seen how a euro Capri and Mustang II stacked up performance wise as it was no contest in the sales department with the Mustang II being a pretty good seller.” according to
    ‘raph’

    One thing I really like about the TTAC site is that, no matter how borderline a car is, there’s bound to be an advocate for it here. If I wanted a site with like-minded writers, I’d go elsewhere.

    That being said, to some us, the desirable Mustangs took a hiatus in 1970, and came back to play for the 1979 model, and really started to win games in the 1994 model year. I went to school with a kid who sprung for a new ’71 Mach 1, at the same time that another kid surprised the class with his new Z/28. I still like the looks of the Z, and I’m a Ford guy.

    As for the Mustang II, looked good on paper, but basically a pretty Pinto, just as the H-Special from GM (Monza, Sunbird, Starfire/Firenza,Skyhawk) are pretty Vega’s. The 1970′s were a tough time for American car makers. As for the sales comparison, if the one Mustang II assembly was flat out producing cars, I’m glad for Ford. For the earlier 1965-1970 Mustangs, there were at one point three separate plants(Dearborn, San Jose, Metuchen)cranking out cars, and temporarily two plants making early Cougars. A little indicator about demand.

    The case for the Capri, I’ll admit, is very personal. It is, as I said before, the car that the ’71-73 Mustang and Mustang II should have been. If Ford had the smarts and manufacturing knowhow in the 1970′s that they have now, I’m convinced that they would have built the German Capri here, Canada, or Mexico, and there wouldn’t be the big Mustang and Mustang II. To be fair to the big Mustang, it works better for me as its sister, the then-current Cougar.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    I like the way these look. My Aunt’s boyfriend had one new. Cool car.

    That tach, with the full numbers (ie 1000, 2000, etc) threw me.

  • avatar
    davew833

    As a college student in the early ’90s I bought a blue ’76 Capri II with the 2.8 V6 from a low-end car lot for something like $250. It ran but had an engine noise. I drove it home about 15 miles to discover upon inspection that the engine had thrown TWO rods and had corresponding holes in the block. But it still RAN! I did my first engine swap on that car with one from a ’79. I rented an engine hoist but for some reason couldn’t get the engine & trans installed with them both mated. I installed the engine alone with the hoist, and then lifted the trans into the car from underneath with NO hoist, NO trans jack, and nothing but sheer persistence and/or stupidity.

    I broke the power steering line in the swap process and went to a local “full service” junkyard to get another one. The cars there were stacked three- high, and I remember a greasy guy with a forklift picking their Capri off the top while I watched and rolling the whole thing over to access the PS line from the bottom. I’m sure he destroyed any remaining salvageable sheetmetal in the process (the roof was already destroyed) all for a $15 power steering line.

    I got the swapped engine running, but only drove it a couple of times before the distributor shaft broke and I unloaded the whole thing for $150 in disgust.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    …snip In states the Black + Gold version was called Black Cat … or Le Cat Black — it was advertised as Capri S …. but were there different colours on USA market ? I don’t know. Or just white/black.. This from
    “MikeB4″

    I know that you wrote that the ‘S’ could be had in more colors than just black or white, but in press information from Lincoln-Mercury Division, they just list those two colors.

    As far as calling this model the ‘Le Cat’, this appears to be something they used for the 1977 model year, as it appears on the cover of the 1977 Capri sales brochure, as well as on the specific pages covering the ‘S’ model. You’ll remember that Mercury was fond in the 1970′s of tell you that you could find their cars ‘at the sign of the cat’, originally meaning the mascot Cougar, but in this case they used the black panther(please, no postings from Crown Vic people).

    As for what I learned about the junkyard car, the moulding lines that I thought were remnants of the Ghia model look on closer inspection to be aftermarket pinstriping, and in some cases the primer on the back was sprayed without removing the pinstriping.

  • avatar
    Mr. Ro

    Wow, I’d sure like to have the rear quarter window chrome trim! Where is this yard? Not to mention the aftermarket camber/caster kit. I have two bone-stock, running 1976 Capris, one of which is this exact color, but it’s the Ghia version. They’re no better or worse than any mid-70s car, meaning a 100K mile designed life expectancy, tops.
    The 2.8L V6 was known for blowing head gaskets (I can verify that!) and being a Euro design, it doesn’t like cheap 87 octane fuel. Mechanically and electrically they are very simple cars, but I think the biggest reason you don’t see them around any more (I’m lucky to see one or two a year in the forgiving Pacific Northwest climate) is that every freaking panel on the car save for doors, hatch and hood is WELDED IN PLACE! Fender bender? Total the car! Great for structural strength, but a bummer if you ever need bodywork.
    However, if you like attention, people will notice a clean example— I’ve had several offers to buy my nicer one, and folks in traffic have rolled down their window to ask about the Ghia version :-)

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    Many, many thanks for the VIN plate, these are hard to come by.

  • avatar
    robrox

    I’ve had three and would love to have the dimensions and layout of the car again…but with modern systems. Did three printed engines, the last was a rejetted standard Motorcraft breathing in through oiled cloth on top of a polished intake with the outbreathing through wrapped headers, aftermarket cat, flowmasters.

    Mechanicals included a max offset crank grind, a heavy breathing cam and other similar… Revved to 7500 with no trouble, eventually blew at 8300, after 18 months of very hard service.

    All bushings replaced, nice dampers 205 60H on 14″ superlights. Best she ever did in a quarter was 88.2 mph, but if the road was crooked she stayed in front with ease against A-body and F-body alike. Shocked a number of imports in the twisties. Very comfortable up to 125 and would go faster, but absent the tip off aero junk, she didn’t much care to go faster.

    All that was about fun factor, but I would like to point out something immensely practical about the Capri II: put the back seats down and you could load three sheets of 3/4″ plywood into it and close the hatch! Think about the utility of such a car for sleeping in resort parking lots during ski season, at trailhead parking and so on.

    There is no small car capable of anything like that today…most of the little uttes can’t manage it.

    As I mentioned at the beginning, If an MFG put modern systems and trim into one of these, they would have my business. P1800, Nomad, Capri II…my favorite niche

    Peeves:
    #1 roof gutters..even then they were a throwback
    #2 Quarter windows as flap outs, rollups would have been cleaner
    #3 Leaky mechanicals
    #4 No 5-sp


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