Junkyard Find: 1976 Capri II Aka Mercury Capri Aka Ford Capri

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

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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  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Nov 01, 2012

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

  • Robrox Robrox on Jan 21, 2014

    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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