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

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1976 capri ii aka mercury capri aka ford capri

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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  • 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

  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged