Junkyard Find: 1980 Mercury Capri

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Apr 09, 2012

    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.

  • Geozinger Geozinger on Apr 09, 2012

    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.

  • Bof65705611 CarPlay is awesome. Nav and music have been mentioned but it’s also amazing for texting, WhatsApp, my calendar, Zoom calls, FaceTime calls, and phone calls. I don’t like touchscreens in the car but both my cars (BMW, Mazda) use a rotary knob, which isn’t great, but doable with minimal time with eyes off the road.
  • Tassos Most people here who think it is a good idea have NO idea how much such a conversion costs. Hint: MORE than buying an entire new car.
  • Zipper69 Current radio ads blare "your local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer" and the facias read the same. Is the honeymoon with FIAT over now the 500 and big 500 have stopped selling?
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  • ToolGuy Personally I have no idea what anyone in this video is talking about, perhaps someone can explain it to me.