Junkyard Find: 1980 Mercury Capri

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1980 mercury capri

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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  • 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.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Auto insurance renewal every six months. Ten year old car, good driving record, own my own home, excellent credit score, no teenagers on the policy, etc, etc, etc.Yet, I pay thru the nose!!!!!Adds on the morning news brag about $500k settlements.I paid less when I lived in New York State.
  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.