Buy/Drive/Burn: Mid-seventies Captive Imports

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
buy drive burn mid seventies captive imports

Today’s Seventies captive imports trio comes to us via suggestion by commenter MRF 95 T-Bird. He wants to see which of the Manta, Capri, and Arrow warrants a malaise era Buy. We’ll straddle two model years today, 1975 and 1976.

Ford Capri

The Capri is in its fifth model year in the North American market, after Ford began imports of its German-made European market coupe in 1970. For 1976 the Capri II arrives, with new hatchback styling and more refinement over its predecessor. Available engines this year include the 2.3-liter OHC inline-four and 2.8-liter Cologne V6, paired either to a four-speed manual or three-speed auto. Today’s selection is a 2.8 V6 (105 horsepower) with a four-speed manual. Rumor has it the Capri isn’t long for the North American market, as its sales continue to fall.

Opel Manta

General Motors has distributed select German Opel models via its Buick dealerships since 1956. Since 1971 the Manta and Ascona A have been available, the latter of which wears a 1900 badge domestically. Manta is the coupe of the two, and all examples use a 1.9-liter inline-four that produces 105 horsepower. Two transmissions are available, a four-speed manual (today’s choice) or three-speed auto. New for 1975 is a Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system on all examples. 1975 is the last year for the Manta in North America, as rising exchange rates force GM to import the Isuzu Gemini and call it Opel by Isuzu.

Plymouth Arrow

1976 is the debut year of the Plymouth Arrow in North America. Dodge imports the hatchback as another entry into its captive Colt lineup, and aficionados know it’s actually a Mitsubishi Lancer. Engines on offer are two, a 1.6-liter inline-four or optional larger 2.0-liter I4. Transmissions have four or five speeds if manual, three if automatic. The 2.0-liter is our engine selection today and sends 100 horsepower through the five-speed manual.

Three fun to drive and economical two doors, which one goes home to your bi-level’s garage?

Have any suggestions for future editions of Buy/Drive/Burn? Leave them in the comments!

[Images: GM, Ford, Dodge]

Join the conversation
2 of 43 comments
  • Jo Borras Jo Borras on Dec 10, 2021

    Buy the Capri, Drive the Manta, burn the Plymouth, then put out the fire, restore the Plymouth, and burn the Plymouth again.

  • Pianoboy57 Pianoboy57 on Dec 10, 2021

    I actually had both in the same year, a'71 Manta and a '74 Capri. Both were manuals and both had 4 cylinders. The Capri seemed to be built more solidly but was slower than the Manta. The Manta was a lot more fun to throw around and it was more comfortable. Buy the Manta, Drive the Capri, Ditch the Arrow. We have a '78 RWD Colt. Not nearly as fun as the other two.

  • Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.
  • Kwik_Shift A manual bug eye WRX wagon (2001-03) would interest me more.
  • El scotto Ferrari develops a way to put a virtual car in real time traffic? Will it be multiple virtual players in a possible infinite number of real drivers in real time situations?This will be one of the greatest things ever or a niche video game.
  • El scotto It's said that many military regulations are written in blood. Every ship's wheel or aircraft joystick has a human hand on it at all times when a ship or aircraft are under power. Tanks, APC's and other ground vehicles probably operate under the same rules. Even with those regulations accidents still happen. There is no such thing as an unmanned autopilot, ever. Someone has to be on the stick at all times.I do not think MB understands what a sue-happy nation the USA is. The 1st leased MB in a wreck while this Type 3 "Semi-Autonomous" driving, or whatever it is called, will result in an automatic lawsuit. Expect a class action lawsuit after the 1st personal lawsuit is filed. Yes, new MB owners can afford and ever are lawyers.Mercedes Benz; "The best wrecks or nothing!" Oh and has anyone noticed that Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura, the gray suit with white shirt and striped tie, automobile companies have stayed away from any autonomous driving nonsense?
  • Merc190 Very streamlined but not distinctive enough for a Mercedes. And besides, the streetcar of the early 20th century seems a far more efficient and effective method of people moving in essentially an autonomous manner. A motor car is meant to be driven with proper attention to what's important in every situation. To design it otherwise is idiotic and contradictory.