By on November 4, 2015

00 - 1980 Mercury Capri in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Ford built cars on the Fox Platform for nearly or more than 20 years, depending on whether you consider the SN-95 Mustang to be a true member of the Fox family. However, most of the examples I see in junkyards aren’t of sufficient interest for me to photograph for this series.

The Foxes that have made the Junkyard Find cut tend to hail from the Malaise Era, probably because the Fox Platform was amazingly futuristic by the standards of the late-1970s/early-1980s. The Fox Capri (not to be confused with the European Ford Capri or the Australian-built, Mazda 323-based 1990s Capri) was uncommon back in the day and is now nearly extinct, so I whipped out my JDM Canon when I spotted this ’80 in a San Jose self-service yard.
13 - 1980 Mercury Capri in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Remember when California required emissions-level stickers on the windows of new cars?

03 - 1980 Mercury Capri in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

This car has the Pinto 2300, so we’re talking about 88 horsepower in a 2,547-pound car. This works out to 28.94 horsepower per pound, which is even worse than the 26.66 hp/lb of the current Mitsubishi Mirage (a car that nearly all automotive journalists proclaimed to be worse than taking the bus, though I thought it wasn’t bad at all for the price). Men were men in 1980, and they were willing to have patience when merging onto freeways.

01 - 1980 Mercury Capri in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

At least this car came with a manual transmission.

12 - 1980 Mercury Capri in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The trunk lid shows the lichens and surface rust that result from long-term outdoor storage in California.

02 - 1980 Mercury Capri in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

While the original purchaser of this car wasn’t willing to spring for the L6 or V8 options, he or she did get air conditioning. For how many years did Ford products have some variation on this HVAC-control-panel theme? Sajeev?

Ease on down the road in a Capri!

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92 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1980 Mercury Capri...”

  • avatar

    Those are lb/hp figures, not hp/lb.

  • avatar

    I love the spaghetti-like tangle of hoses and wires in the engine compartment. I remember they looked so intimidating to me–still do, lol.

    I also like the 23/38 mpg EPA ratings…same as our 80 Fairmont.

    The 23 was realistic, the 38…not so much. As a kid, I wondered, what did Ford do to go from 34 mpg in 1979 to 38? My experience was 29-33 highway, depending on whether speed was closer to 55 or 63-65 mph.

    Still, I liked our 4-door Fox.

  • avatar

    Mom had a Mustang of this vintage. If you think the Pinto motor was a POS, turbocharging it with a carb was even worse. The drivetrain had a four speed which was low first, 2 and 3 where you’d expect them, then super OD 4th gear. You had to redline hard (and get the overboost buzzer) to get the bottom of the power curve again in 4th. Fuel would pool in the runners in hot weather…August in NYC traffic was not fun.

    The TRX tires were better back in the day although my next car had the radical at the time “Eagle GT” which was as good without having special sizes. The car handled very well for a domestic of the time, even if the drivetrain was shipped less than half baked.

    The later SVO motor, or any V8, would have been a better choice.

  • avatar

    So who was this car for – women? Secretaries who were a bit too fancy for a Mustang LX or a Camaro Berlinetta?

    It’s really very dreadful. I’m glad I wasn’t a teen in the late 80’s where I’d of have to buy this kind of crap.

    • 0 avatar

      You could have had an early GTI, they were fun.

      • 0 avatar

        Were those cheap high school rides by the late 80’s though? It has always been my impression that the GTI was known/coveted as the Special Sauce since introduction (and credit for creation of the hot hatch genre), and resale always reflected it.

        • 0 avatar

          I think by the late 80’s you could have had a 1st gen GTI for similar money to what this Capri would have gone for. VW refreshed the Golf in ’85 or ’86, and introduced a 16 valve motor in ’87, those were the hot ticket by then.

          I had an ’87 8 valve GTI, sold it in 1991 to a high schooler.

        • 0 avatar
          Matt Foley

          I was in high school in the late 80’s. Everybody who wanted a GTI ended up with a Rabbit, because (as you say) the MkI GTI was out of the price range of middle-class kids.

          The slow-ass cars of the 70’s and early 80’s were perfect for reckless fools like us. With only 80-120hp on tap, who needed traction control?

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Real GTIs were not cheap, and that probably lead to the birth of the VW tuner scene.

          You could buy any Rabbit/Golf/Jetta and install almost any water-cooled VW engine and transmission with minimal wrenching skills. Throw-in some short springs and Neuspeed stickers and you’ve got instant teenage street cred for very little money.

          • 0 avatar

            The same mods/tuning could be done to a basic Fox with great results. Some would say *better* results, them being rwd.

        • 0 avatar

          My 8th-grade realistic-aspirational ride was, sadly, a Pontiac Fiero. First saw one in Ferris Bueller – his sister had one. Man, those were sweet, sweet rides.

          I didn’t know anything back then.

      • 0 avatar

        A friend bought an ’84 GTI in ’87, when we were juniors in high school. I think he paid $6K for an immaculate car with low miles and an engine that blew up the first week he had it. After replacing the engine, he kept the car at least until he started medical school. It was almost as fast as my Festiva L 4-speed, but he was never much of a driver.

    • 0 avatar

      A mid 70’s Rabbit or Fiesta is what I was gunning for, hopefully by the time I could drive. Although the Fox Capris were the best looking of the Fox platform, I thought, and about the sharpest cars of the time.

      Then I saw a TV bit on the newest pursuit vehicles for highway patrol. They teased it with close-up of at rear wheel, rolling/downshift smokey burnout. Yep, the ’82 pursuit 5.0 Mustangs. Wtf?

      By the time I had my licence in ’85 I spotted a ’79 Fox Capri 5.0 I could actually afford in high school, working part-time. OK, it was wrecked (totaled) but fixable/drivable. Front clip, core support, paint, done.

      I didn’t know how to wrench at ’15, but did it anyway. Absolutely loved it.

    • 0 avatar

      These were highly desired by teenage males when I was in high school/college in the ’80s. I always read they sold in small numbers, but I can think of six guys off the top of my head who had new or used versions. They were relatively cheap, sporty and considered much better looking than the Mustangs of the same era. One friend had a top-of-line ’86 bubble hatch V8/stick shift example that was just a beautiful car. Another had a custom burnt-orange ’79 pr ’80 with the turbo four and a stick. Most of the others had 4-cylinders. I drove a couple and they were fun, relatively sporty cars that handled nicely.

    • 0 avatar

      It was for Lincoln/Mercury dealer owners who wanted to have a 2 door sports car to sell.

      Dealers like having a full lineup of cars so that they don’t lose a sale because they don’t have the type of vehicle someone is looking for. That’s the main reason badge engineering exists – it’s often less “we’re going to target a market segment” and more “the dealers keep complaining we don’t offer x, so lets take an existing car, slap a different badge on it, and give it to them to shut them up”

      • 0 avatar

        The (imported by Lincoln-Mercury) and the subsequent Capri II had gotten pretty expensive due to currency exchange rates by the late 70s and weren’t selling well, mostly due to their prices. But, yeah, Lincoln-Mercury dealers still wanted a small sporty 2-door car to sell, so the restyled Mustang didn’t seem such a bad idea at the time.

  • avatar

    I always preferred the front end of these as compared to Mustangs of the same vintage. When the “bubble back” Capri’s came out they lost me. Never warmed up to that look.

    • 0 avatar

      Not as good as the 85-86 Mustang front end though.

      Always thought the 87-93 were dull compared to the 85-86.

      • 0 avatar

        +1. The 85-86 “4-eye” Mustangs were the best looking of all of the foxes. Never liked the cheesy body kits the GT’s wore after that. Had a black ’86 GT with T-tops back in ’89. I’ve had a lot of cars, but that’s one of the few I still truly miss.

  • avatar

    Better than a Chevette. Safer than a Civic. More reliable than an X- car.

  • avatar


    Actually that HVAC panel was rather short lived, compared to how long other things Detroit keeps around for decades. That came out in the Fairmont and fizzled out when the Fairmont’s dash died in the 1986 Mustang.

    Unless you count similar “aircraft lever” designs all the way back to the 1960s Mustangs. Which I do not.

    And HOW DARE YOU NOT tag this with Sajeev’s Bitter Tears? I weep for all Fox Bodies!

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Check out the ‘wood’ trim on the dashboard. A nice touch of disco era luxury.

    • 0 avatar

      The car magazines were telling us not to like plastic wood by the time this car was made, but the dashboard made up for it with big analog gauges and reasonably well thought out ergonomics. I haven’t been in a Ford as well designed in over a decade.

  • avatar

    Reminded me of my 2.3L Ford Fairmont coupe. Had a five-speed, power steering, and air conditioning. Could not get out of its own way, but mileage was good. Pretty much burned it up running on the autobahn when stationed in Germany. Caught fire one morning when I was going to work and everything under the hood burned. Took the insurance check and used it as a down payment on a SAAB Turbo Sedan.

  • avatar

    I had one of these Fox Capris. I always like the looks of them better than the Mustang. Unfortunately, back in the early eighties, quality was not job one at Ford. I only owned it for 3 months. When I came home one day, and found transmission bolts in the driveway…I got rid of it. What a real pile of steaming crap.

  • avatar

    I want that instrument cluster for a future Fox project (detailed below)!

    My favorite Fox was the Mercury Zephyr. 2 door sedan, Z-7 coupe or the 4 door sedan, as long as it has the Inline-6, Im happy.

    The 3.3L 6 had the same hp as the 2.3L, but more torque. I just love an Inline-6. My two Zephyrs so equipped were not terribly slow, but Id hesitate to call them quick, lol.

    I once got pulled over in Utah for doing 90 in my 83 Zephyr GS sedan.

    Id love to find another Zephyr, upgrade it with a 250 I-6 out of a Granada or something, and update that with MPFI and Ford’s EEC-IV system. Id convert it to 5 lug using 90s Mustang parts, maybe go with a T-5 manual or an AOD. I thought about getting a waterfall grille from a late model Grand Marquis and cut it to fit in the Zephyr’s rectangle grille area. Nicer, thicker chrome bars with a big old fat Mercury emblem in the middle. I think it would look sharp, along with updated aftermarket headlamps. Since it would be 5×114.3 lug pattern after the conversion, maybe throw on some Mountaineer 16″ alloys with low profile tires. I would consider Grand Marquis alloys, but theyre so damned ugly! Not sure if the Mountaineer wheels would fit, but I did the same thing with 2003 Explorer XLS alloys on my 96 Aerostar and it turned out great. Got lots of compliments on them, it really made the van stand out in a good way.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Somebody around here used to have an orange Fox Capri convertible about a decade ago. They also had a forest green ’80s Mark VII LSC of some sort. Kind of an odd choice of a collection, but it takes all kinds.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll take “Things Left At Dealer, End Of Model Year” for $600.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh btw in about a week I demand a new owner review of a certain pristine Deville.

        • 0 avatar

          Mhm, have to get her cleaned up first and do a proper wash! I think the guy just quick sprayed it off. And of course leather treatment.

          Is not pristine though! It’s got some paint peel at the bumper corners at the front. One side because the old guy bumped something at one point, and the other side looks like perhaps Zeibart got onto the painted plastic and caused it to peel? The pictures were taken selectively not to show it, but it was not enough to put me off for the price. No cracks in filler plastic.

          • 0 avatar

            Still very clean for a MY93, the only cleaner examples will be in museums or in private collections at this point.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah I was generally pleased. Have to consider repainting the bumper or finding a new one, which could prove a challenge.

          • 0 avatar

            These things still exist in yards, but going to a u pull it, detaching it, and then hauling it away is gonna be a PITA by yourself. There is a yard we freight stuff out of in Ravenna OH, maybe call them get a quote and see what freight costs are to Cincy (or find a yard in Cincy).

            Not helping you much, but there is a body shop I deal with in Elizabeth who does excellent work for cash deals. Seems like every smaller job I give him is either $200 or $500 dollars (one or the other exactly) but I feel like if I drove that down and said fix it with a new one, all in it would be $500 (and I probably could make him repaint part of the car too for this price). He put a new coat on the top third/half of my Audi and repaired rust on the A pillar for $500 years back.

          • 0 avatar

            That doesn’t sound too bad, ha. I think the paint on plastic of that era just doesn’t stick well, generally.

            The bumper only has a dent about the size of a nickel in the black plastic bit, it’s really not in bad shape. And I don’t think it has the metallic white paint option, though I could be wrong about that.

            I can look at the order form and stuff tonight, I love poring over that. It’s got the Gold Key Package at least.

          • 0 avatar

            Did it come with an extra key blank?

          • 0 avatar

            Umm I didn’t look. All the keys were on one ring along with the remote, and there were several. I do remember the “blank key in box” thing, what was it supposed to be for?

            The leather folder has got the owner’s manual in it, as well as Cadillac pen and calc.

        • 0 avatar

          Also, would you like to hear a 90’s 3800 Park Avenue story which I heard last night?

          • 0 avatar


          • 0 avatar

            So I call my friend who works down the street from me yesterday evening, to see if he can help me do the pick up today.

            And after we sorted that out, he says to me, he says:

            “Oh I forgot to tell you, last weekend my grandpa bought like this mid-90’s Park Avenue from this guy who didn’t want it, that lives across the street.”

            “Oh really?”

            “Yeah, it has been sitting in the garage for a long time, it has 2500 miles. It’s new.”

            “You’re joking, right? That was around the time they changed models. Was it older looking or newer?” (He’s not into cars much.)

            “I dunno.”

            “Did it have push button door handles, or did you pull them up?”

            “Uhh, the push kind.”

            “Did it say Ultra on it?”

            “It just said Park Avenue.”

            “Regular version then, but still nice.

            “He paid $1500 for it.”


          • 0 avatar

            Deals a plenty in Ohio.

          • 0 avatar

            They have too many family members who are car-needy and would quickly ruin it for me to ever have a shot at making an offer, so that’s unfortunate.

            It’s probably even two-tone.

          • 0 avatar

            I would buy a period Cadillac just to put an E&G on.


        • 0 avatar

          Subscribed. Want post-cleanup pictures, too.

          Also, 28… what is your thinking on an appropriate value for this Legend? $6450 is definitely too much, but the guy is also selling it off eBay and I’m thinking of making him an offer if he continues to get no bids.

          It’s not a Type II, but it’s pretty much immaculate, has all the available options for MY91, and doesn’t appear to have any HG issues.

          • 0 avatar

            Of course. I always take comprehensive pics after I first get a car and get it cleaned up – comes in handy for sale time, especially since itss best condition is usually right then.

            Ooh pretty Legend. Less desirable color than most. Also note there’s been something done in/around the steering column. The ignition is seriously misaligned to the dash panel.


          • 0 avatar


            This is a good question, let me think on it for a little bit.

          • 0 avatar

            Thank you both.

            Corey, good eye on the ignition switch. I notice that the service history says it was replaced. That’s something that shouldn’t happen after 70k miles. It’s too bad they didn’t do a better job. I wonder if it was stolen and the thieves pried on the switch enough to damage the part of the car it’s mounted to?

          • 0 avatar

            As I recall these were always high theft targets in the 90’s in urban areas (and of course the Integra to a higher degree). So that would not surprise me. They fitted it back as best they could.

            You’d think a theft would appear on a vehicle report though.

          • 0 avatar

            Let me start with saying the Acura Legend is the great survivor. I didn’t pull all years but in MY91-92 and MY95-97 (inc RL) the highest mileage example did 329K. I’m sure it was barely running for $550 in ATL but it sold nonetheless. So if we just go by MMR here is what stands out in what sounds like clean condition based on mileage or pricing (yes I am lumping in gen 3 RL with gen 2 Legend):

            06/17/15 SF BAY* Regular $1,400 142,716 Avg GOLD 6G A No
            02/10/15 NASHVILL Regular $1,750 148,117 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            01/06/15 STATESVL Regular $2,700 92,334 Above RED 6G A No

            12/04/13 HAWAII Regular $1,500 75,488 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            02/11/15 CEN FLA Regular $1,600 93,976 Avg WHITE 6G A No

            03/20/14 PHOENIX Regular $5,000 55,983 Avg TAN 6G No
            02/26/14 DENVER Regular $1,900 113,946 Avg WHITE 6G A No

            06/02/15 OHIO Lease $2,900 80,644 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            07/31/15 FT LAUD Regular $2,640 106,790 Avg Black 6G A No

            *Cars go for more in SF BAY bc of inflation, so one doing 1,4 instead of 650 implies of the runs that day, it was clean.

            SAMPLE SET
            Avg Miles: 101,110
            Avg Price: $2,377

            So of clean examples in those MYs, with a price range of 1,400 to 5,000 we have an average mileage of 101K and price of $2,4. Figure add a grand for rarity and less miles on the Ebay car, and I’d say 3,5 is a good jumping off point for a clean MY91-95 <110K in the private party world. Acura Legend (also figure 500-1000 in reconditioning costs).

            An Ebay search of “acura legend” shows:

            MY89 $2,500.00/180K
            MY87 $5,200.00/170K
            MY89 $6,450.00/72K
            MY95 $6,400.00/106K
            Then a legend coupe auto for $11,9 with no mileage displayed, which is insane.

            So the two cleaner examples want 6,4 for what is at best a 4K ride. Sellers will point to clean condition or rarity for their premium but given the longevity of the platform as shown, I would honestly talk to an indy dealer and for a commission to them have them seek out a $2K example at auction with more miles but in decent condition. I think most sellers think they have a unicorn and will bend you over for those 50-90K examples. One dealer paid $5K wholesale for his example in PHX, so either he intends to own/drive it personally or he’s got 10K on it somewhere in the Southwest. Something that old is tougher to finance, and I think its alot to put on a BHPH but I could be wrong.

            MY91 Acura Legend Sedan “LS”

            01/07/15 SEATTLE Regular $900 113,454 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            01/28/14 ORLANDO Regular $500 115,475 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            03/25/14 TUCSON Regular $450 130,772 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            03/11/14 STATESVL Regular $700 131,027 Avg GREY 6G A No
            06/17/15 SF BAY Regular $1,400 142,716 Avg GOLD 6G A No
            01/08/15 SO CAL Regular $650 146,773 Avg SILVER 6G A No
            02/10/15 NASHVILL Regular $1,750 148,117 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            03/03/15 PORTLAND Lease $800 159,788 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            11/13/13 CEN FLA Regular $700 170,908 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            06/11/14 SF BAY Regular $400 190,050 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            12/17/13 NASHVILL Regular $600 196,202 Avg WHITE 6G No
            11/26/14 SF BAY Regular $1,050 199,286 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            01/08/14 TUCSON Regular $350 234,456 Avg GREY 6G A No
            03/25/15 SEATTLE Regular $450 250,742 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            04/08/15 SEATTLE Regular $500 250,745 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            02/27/14 ST PETE Regular $800 255,699 Avg GRAY 6G A No
            06/10/14 RIVRSIDE Regular $300 262,475 Avg BLACK 6G No

            MY91 Acura Legend Sedan “L”

            01/06/15 STATESVL Regular $2,700 92,334 Above RED 6G A No
            02/24/15 NYMETSKY Regular $1,100 98,098 Above WHITE 6G A Yes
            02/12/15 NEVADA Regular $500 111,436 Avg RED 6G A Yes
            10/29/15 ST PETE Regular $100 193,584 Below GREY 6G Yes
            05/06/15 CALIFORN Regular $500 197,036 Avg WHITE 6G A Yes
            08/26/15 SEATTLE Regular $500 214,917 Avg GREY 6G A Yes

            MY92 Acura Legend Sedan “LS”

            12/04/13 HAWAII Regular $1,500 75,488 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            02/11/15 CEN FLA Regular $1,600 93,976 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            02/11/15 DTNA BCH Regular $2,700 94,041 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            02/10/14 NC Regular $1,000 136,786 Avg WHITE 6G No
            03/05/14 SF BAY Regular $2,250 149,800 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            03/25/14 BALTWASH Regular $700 156,678 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            10/08/15 FRDKBURG Regular $900 163,365 Avg TAN 6G No
            07/07/15 PENSCOLA Regular $350 173,461 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            01/28/14 NEWENGLD Regular $550 175,292 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            06/24/15 NJ Regular $650 183,364 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            07/22/15 NJ Regular $300 183,367 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            04/08/14 PENSCOLA Regular $1,350 186,198 Avg RED 6G A No
            02/27/14 EL PASO Regular $1,550 214,314 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            10/30/14 NEVADA Regular $550 214,568 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            06/09/14 CENTPENN Regular $450 264,017 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            11/11/14 BALTWASH Regular $275 292,448 Avg WHITE 6G A No

            MY95 Acura Legend Sedan “L”

            MMR: Aggregate: $400/350/200, clean/avg/rough

            03/20/14 PHOENIX Regular $5,000 55,983 Avg TAN 6G No
            04/30/15 NEVADA Regular $750 112,337 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            02/26/14 DENVER Regular $1,900 113,946 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            01/08/14 SAN DIEG Regular $900 115,552 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            08/20/14 TUCSON Regular $900 118,887 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            07/02/14 SF BAY Regular $1,550 125,092 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            12/04/14 NEVADA Regular $700 136,427 Avg BLUE 6G A No
            12/04/14 ALBANY Regular $900 138,870 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            10/20/15 CEN FLA Regular $300 140,460 Avg GREY 6G A No
            02/20/14 STATESVL Regular $1,000 142,440 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            09/04/14 NEVADA Regular $600 152,133 Avg GOLD 6G A No
            08/26/14 BALTWASH Regular $550 154,237 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            03/05/14 SF BAY Regular $1,100 154,796 Avg GOLD 6G A No
            05/07/15 ATLANTA Regular $350 159,494 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            04/20/15 CENTPENN Regular $1,000 165,145 Avg GOLD 6G A No
            06/03/15 CEN FLA Regular $300 165,275 Avg GREEN 6G No
            06/03/15 HAWAII Lease $400 166,138 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            11/20/14 ST PETE Regular $1,200 168,025 Avg GOLD 6G A No
            04/23/15 TX HOBBY Regular $800 168,875 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            09/09/14 HOUSTON Regular $700 169,611 Avg GREEN 6G No
            07/21/14 DARLNTON Regular $1,200 176,727 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            01/29/15 OMAHA Regular $750 177,237 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            01/20/15 ATLANTA Regular $500 179,719 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            01/29/15 SO CAL Regular $1,200 191,642 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            05/14/14 SEATTLE Regular $1,300 206,783 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            05/07/15 STATESVL Regular $1,500 215,533 Avg PEW 6G A No
            01/16/14 ST PETE Regular $1,200 222,070 Avg BROWN 6G A No
            05/14/15 SO CAL Regular $900 224,381 Avg GOLD 6G A No
            12/31/13 BALTWASH Regular $500 232,817 Avg BLACK 6G No
            03/18/14 STATESVL Regular $950 242,270 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            02/12/14 SF BAY Regular $500 266,678 Avg DK GREEN 6G A No

            MY96 Acura RL (Legend) base

            MMR: Aggregate: $525/350/175, clean/avg/rough

            08/19/15 FT MYERS Regular $400 0 Avg GOLD 6G A No
            08/18/15 ATLANTA Regular $800 116,431 Avg BLACK 6G A Yes
            08/12/15 CEN FLA Regular $1,200 182,819 Above WHITE 6G A Yes
            09/29/15 BALTWASH Regular $600 227,125 Avg WHITE 6G A Yes
            10/28/15 STATESVL Regular $350 303,838 Avg SLV 6G A Yes
            09/16/15 SEATTLE Regular $200 337,469 Below BLACK 6G A Yes

            MY97 Acura RL (Legend) base

            MMR Aggregate: $1500, all conditions

            02/17/15 PENSCOLA Regular $500 0 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            02/26/15 ATLANTA Regular $1,200 1 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            10/07/14 ATLANTA Regular $1,300 1 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            10/15/14 STATESVL Regular $1,400 12,642 Avg WHITE 6G No
            06/02/15 OHIO Lease $2,900 80,644 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            10/08/15 FRDKBURG Regular $1,500 104,342 Avg TAN 6G No
            07/31/15 FT LAUD Regular $2,640 106,790 Avg Black 6G A No
            01/27/15 DENVER Regular $650 143,443 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            02/26/15 PALM BCH Regular $1,000 148,130 Avg SILVER 6G A No
            11/25/14 ST LOUIS Regular $1,950 158,298 Avg PURPLE 6G A No
            12/11/14 SO CAL Regular $1,100 174,782 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            01/28/15 MILWAUKE Regular $1,000 182,163 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            01/14/15 FT MYERS Regular $1,800 184,029 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            05/05/15 NASHVILL Lease $600 184,902 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            01/20/15 PHOENIX Lease $900 189,552 Avg SILVER 6G A No
            03/25/15 SEATTLE Regular $1,400 211,027 Avg LTGOLD 6G A No
            12/17/14 NEW MEX Regular $400 211,596 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            05/07/15 STATESVL Regular $450 213,318 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            05/21/15 SO CAL Regular $550 224,230 Avg GREEN 6G A No
            02/03/15 STATESVL Regular $700 236,941 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            07/29/15 MILWAUKE Regular $1,150 237,366 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            07/15/15 CALIFORN Regular $200 240,827 Avg BROWN 6G A No
            05/14/15 TX HOBBY Regular $500 242,546 Avg BLACK 6G A No
            05/05/15 BALTWASH Regular $600 248,563 Avg GRAY 6G A No
            12/16/14 DENVER Regular $450 256,560 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            12/01/14 NC Regular $500 257,697 Avg SILVER 6G A No
            03/18/15 NJ Regular $850 265,153 Avg WHITE 6G A No
            12/04/14 DARLNTON Regular $400 303,363 Avg PEWTER 6G A No
            07/28/15 ATLANTA Regular $550 329,751 Avg GREEN 6G

            Additional: UC Valuations are regional and niche models are tough to nail down based on the limited data I have available to me. Black Book is probably the best source for this kind of information, but obtaining a subscription is both expensive and difficult for the layman.

          • 0 avatar

            28, I really ought to be paying you for this stuff. This is fantastic information, and I can’t thank you enough.

            Legends are terrific survivors… except that they have literally one Achilles’ heel, which is the head gasket. Unfortunately early failure is impossible to see from a description or pictures, because it almost never results in smoke or rough running — you need to be able to watch the coolant overflow reservoir while the car is running. But it will turn into overheating and severe coolant loss within a short time. And replacement is a b!tc# of a job that usually costs around $2000 from an indy mechanic/machine shop. Frustratingly enough that is right about the same cost of obtaining and installing a junkyard engine.

            The HG failures seem to happen reliably starting at 120k or so, and accelerating between 150-175k. They’re caused by the ECU’s inability to compensate for a clogged EGR system, which results in excessively lean running and way-too-hot cylinder temperatures. So the only way to prevent them reliably is to clean out both the EGR pipe and the EGR chamber in the intake manifold every 60k or so miles. As you can imagine very few owners have done this.

            There are lots of Legends out there with clean bodies and 150-200k for $2000ish. I tend to assume they all have blown head gaskets; many of the ads will tell you they overheat. Those cars also all have upholstery and carpet damage; the leather was soft, but not particularly durable. Unfortunately, by the time you replace the HG, reupholster the front seats, and replace the carpet, you’re in for well over $5000. That’s why I’m willing to pay somewhat above market for the right car.

            Edit: By the way, that ’95 on eBay is the one I looked at in person… that has early-stage head gasket failure. 109k is earlier than expected for that problem. But that’s why I had to see it in person.

          • 0 avatar

            You’re welcome, maybe I should start a consulting service hmmmm….

            Blowing HGs sounds vaguely familiar on these but here in the great Northeast 10yo+ examples were somewhat scarce even ten years ago and my previous experience with them is limited. Even if this problem was rectified in RL, I see many high miles examples in the ones posted. Someone along the line paid for that HG to be fixed, this isn’t a 1 out of 10 new owner thing. Perhaps if you keep looking you will find one with documentation on the HG being fixed but with it having more miles and thus be able to get it for a more reasonable price without paying the additional reconditioning costs related to the HG.

            I think I said this before but another old trick is to take say 4K with you in cash and look at the Ebay one in person again (but bring a second person with you, preferably visibly armed). Flash the cash and just say look I will pay this right now but no more and start to walk. If dude’s greed overpowers him so be it, you will eventually find your Legend. There are alot of things I’d like to look for but just don’t have the space for or want to pay for (4.9 Cadillac, Mark VIII, W124 Benz, LS400) but I know if I really wanted one I could make it happen if I applied myself and practiced patience.

          • 0 avatar

            Thanks again both for the information and the wisdom. I know if I have enough patience I’ll find my car. It’s just a matter of waiting for the right opportunity. If this guy in Texas gets frustrated that his Legend isn’t selling, maybe he’ll accept a reasonable price from a good buyer. I’ve got family in Texas and it would be pretty easy for me to retrieve the car.

            The C35A engine in the RL fixed both sides of the HG problem. It has a slightly different lower intake manifold that is much less prone to EGR clogging, and it has an improved OBDII engine computer with a new sensor that can detect a clogged EGR system. The engine is indestructible, and so is the rest of the car. ’96-’04 RLs are absolutely impossible to kill.

            But they also don’t hit me right in the feels the way the Legends do. The design isn’t as low, sinuous, or graceful, and the ride doesn’t have that old-Honda, firm and agile but planted feel. In the end, the Legend, finicky head gasket and all, is the one I want in the garage.

          • 0 avatar

            Can the RL motor and ECU just be swapped into a gen 2 Legend?

          • 0 avatar

            Pre-cleanup pics! In the dark of course, since it’s always dark now.

            Thelma liked her white DeVilles, she traded in her ’90 model for this ’93, with 9k miles on the clock when she turned it in. Dealer gave her $14750 for hers.

            $35640 base price, -$8125 discount for something unlabeled, ha.

            I got my first compliment when I was filling up. “Man that’s a nice Cadillac, what year is that!?”


          • 0 avatar

            Corey… damn son! That only requires a little bit of cleanup. That is a proper old-school Cadillac, and if the people bemoaning the downsizing in ’85 could have seen where the cars would end up by ’91 they wouldn’t have had a single complaint. Great, great pickup.

            28… yes on the engine, no on the ECU (people are running a modified C32A OBD I ECU). C35 swaps are a reasonably common way to respond to HG failure among people “in the know.” I haven’t talked to any of my local Honda shops to find out if they’ve swapped C35As into Legends.

          • 0 avatar

            :D thx!

          • 0 avatar


            Here’s what I would do: get a price on a swap + motor, if its under 2K and we know the avg clean(er) Legend is worth 2,300 it starts to make sense to find a good gen 2 body and just swap it.


            Maybe Thelma’s friend was named Louise? I think part of the problem Cadillac, Lincoln, and even the German marques have to an extent is the lack of Thelma’s generation. These people would buy, not drive, then trade fairly quickly and they had the capital and mindset to do it. Today its all leasing and at least for Lincoln/Cadillac they don’t have the numbers they once had but the captive finance companies who issue the leases are now on risk for depreciation whereas previously there wasn’t much leasing and buyers like Thelma assumed depreciation risk.

          • 0 avatar

            Thelma also paid in full at time of purchase, and she was 85 at the time!

            Seeing a DOB say 08 threw me at first.

          • 0 avatar


            Nice find! But what are you, 30 going on 85? :-)

            Still, I appreciate well kept survivors.

          • 0 avatar

            My man rolls with style and class much like myself.

          • 0 avatar

            Haha, thanks. Always liked large old cars which are best driven slowly. I could only have more style and class if I applied a gold E&G grille on it. But that won’t happen!

            Cleaned up pics from today here btw.

          • 0 avatar

            Y U no like E&G?

            Its so powerful it eviscerates faux luxury all around you. The “Cadillacs” of today will literally fall apart in its presence.

          • 0 avatar

            E&G is just TOO stately, TOO luxurious.

          • 0 avatar

            Speaking of “Cadillacs disintegrating,” has anyone else seen the latest & newly released Consumer Reports Long Term Reliability Index?

            Cadillac is slummin’ it in the back alleys between Disposable Boulevard & Embitterment Avenue, accompanied by the likes of Fiat & Land Rover, like the skankiest ladies of the night.

          • 0 avatar

            @CoreyDL and 28

            Not sure what is wrong with you kids today. Maybe you need to get ON my lawn! LOL

          • 0 avatar

            I have one supreme question about your Caddy:

            Does it have a softer, more isolated ride over bad roads than anything you’ve experienced from cars made in, say, the past 10 years?

            If so, I think you’ve found a Holy Grail. So what if it needs a little polishing?

          • 0 avatar


            You had better believe it – very comfortable over the bumpy roads. Partly because of tall sidewall and partly because of active Computer Command Ride suspension, altering itself per road conditions. Seems to work great.

            Is it a little tippy in corners? Yep. Makes you slow down a bit and enjoy the ride. (LOL)

            By the end of this week I should have all small issues sorted out easily, save for bumper paint and the rear plastic trim bit that’s cracked.

          • 0 avatar


            Big congrats and many silky miles!

    • 0 avatar

      If that was a McLaren Capri convertible, it was ultra rare. I’m sure it was one. No one else made them conv. and less than 600 convertibles in all. They came with an ungraded suspension, hotter cam, ground effects, etc. First Fox with 0-60 under 6 seconds and mid 13 sec 1/4 mile.

      But Capris were really good looking cars, even in basic form. But these Capri convertibles were 2-seaters with a small top that took up back seat with concealed/covered mechanisms when down. Plus a 10% raked-back windshield.

      McLaren did a hatchback Capri too, called the McLaren “Coupe”. Very sharp.

    • 0 avatar

      These were never offered by the factory. They were converted by American Sunroof Corporation (ASC) and souped up by McLaren. The Mercury Capri convertibles had a smaller passenger compartment, smaller rear seat and smaller convertible roof than Mustang convertibles. They are pretty rare.

  • avatar

    Yes indeed power was at a severe deficit with these cars for 1980 and 81 and on most 82 models unless one ordered the top GT with stick only and the HO 5.0 engine. 88 Hp 2.3, optional 85 hp 200 six and the powerhouse 120 HP 255 V8 with it’s uber reliable variable Venturi carburetor made up the rest of the lineup.
    Suddenly those 190-200 HP Vettes, 190 hp 5.7 Camaro’s and 200-210 HP turbo Trans Ams didn’t seem quite so bad during these years.

    My high school friend had a 1986 Capri similar to this one in white with a blue interior and the Essex 3.8 TBI V6. After about 60K miles the party was over and that poor car literally nickel and dimed him to death. The door pins wore out quickly and you could hear them creak every single time the car stopped or started out. The engine caught fire due to the leaky power steering pump. The 3.8 blew it’s head gasket resulting in a cracked head so the engine was swapped out. Then the C4 automatic started slipping with 80k and needed a rebuild. Then it was the serpentine belt tensioner that seized right up on a trip to the mall stranding us on the side of the highway because the belt tore apart in two. Fun times!

  • avatar

    In 1980 the optional V6 was the 2.8 L Cologne. But then they ran out, and the optional engine for both the Capri and the Mustang became the 3.3 I6. The pinto 2.3 has 88 hp, but the 3.3 had 82 hp. Although a bit more torque (and way worse fuel economy).

    My first car was a 1982 Mustang with a 3.3 and an Auto. Got it for $600 cdn in 1991. Did so much wrenching on the car that I basically had the fox body memorized.

    So I kept getting them. 1983 Cougar, 1985 LTD II, 1984 Mustang, 1986 Capri, 1989 Mustang.

  • avatar

    I had it’s twin, an ’80 Mustang, in the late 80’s.

    That is the car that taught me how to hitch hike.

  • avatar

    Huh. I have the same amount of HP in a 2011 Kia Venga, but it weighs 2900 pounds. Might be even slower than a Capri.

  • avatar

    I had a white 1980 Capri like this one but with an all-red interior (and some nice red pinstripes!), automatic transmission and the 3.3 engine. I never had problems with it except for turn signal units that kept failing and the after-market airconditioner I had installed that did not much of anything. The hatchback was excellent and I wish Mustangs today would have one. It was a lot cheaper to maintain than the car it replaced, a 1973 German-built Capri but maybe not as much fun to drive. It was replaced in turn with a 1981 280ZX Turbo and my mother got the Capri, which would have gone on to a long life except for it being driven through a stop sign and getting stopped by another car. The Fox Capri build quality was nothing to get excited about and it was the last North American car bought in our family until my current C6 Corvette.

  • avatar

    “Ford built cars on the Fox Platform for nearly or more than 20 years, depending on whether you consider the SN-95 Mustang to be a true member of the Fox family.”

    If it rode on the Fox (Fairmont) platform, it’s considered a Fox body. The SN-97 (New Edge) Mustang utilized the same platform out to 2004, making the Fox a 25 year platform.

  • avatar

    My 1980 Mercury Capri was the WORST car I have ever owned. It was “baby poop brown/orange with matching vinyl interior. It had the 3.3 liter inline 6 with a single barrel carburetor that made 90 horsepower. It had the automatic transmission, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt wheel,AM/FM radio, rear window louvers and the dreaded TRX wheel package. It is also the only car I have ever owned that did not have reclining front seats. It broke down the same day I bought it but I ignored this giant red flag and set myself up for a long and expensive life lesson. The one lung carburetor back flowed every time the engine was switched off. The carburetor was replaced at least 6 times and they all back flowed within a day of installation. I was lucky if I got 6 months out of an alternator and battery. Driving the car in rainy weather was a huge gamble. If I went through a puddle the wrong way or too fast, water would splash up onto the distributor cap causing the engine to stall. It would be at least an hour before the car would start again. If I used the horn, which was located on the end of the turn signal stalk instead of the steering wheel, the instrument panel light blew out. Turning the cruise control on had the same effect as the horn. The Michelin TRX tires were the only tires to fit the odd sized TRX rims and they were expensive and didn’t last very long. It all came to a head when the starter motor failed. After 2 days of trying to lift the starter up from the engine bay without success, I decided to take the drastic measure and cut the exhaust pipe that ran under the starter out of the way so the starter motor could be dropped from below. Exhaustion and dwindling funds led to a cheap half ass repair to the severed exhaust pipe and this made things worse so I decided to park the damn thing and wait for it to be towed away as an abandoned vehicle and salvage what was left of my sanity.

    • 0 avatar

      Close but wrong Capri to get. Mine was the ’79 (bought in ’85) also a “Fox body”, but with the “5.0”/auto. Virtually unkillable. I tried, believe me. Overheated it a couple times (my fault), but nope.

      While you were hating it, I was loving it with a gear-swap to a 4.10 Posi. Then a fwy friendly 3.73s.

      One of my favorite of all time.

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