Rare Rides: The 1994 Mercury Capri - Miata's Serious Competitor

The Rare Rides series has featured two Capri-adjacent vehicles in past: This car’s immediate predecessor, the ASC McLaren Capri, and its contemporary competitor, the Lotus Elan. Let’s find out how much better the final Capri was than either of those two (or not).

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Rare Rides: 1985 ASC McLaren Mercury Capri - the Fox Body Mashup

Last time on Rare Rides we featured a V8-powered American muscle car that started out as a coupe and had the roof removed by an aftermarket company. Opinions of the Callaway Speedster were mixed, ranging from “meh” to “1990s meh.” So for this Rare Rides entry, we are [s]doing something completely different[/s] following the exact same formula, executed in a different way.

It’s a very special Mercury, at a much lower price point. McLaren anyone?

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Junkyard Find: 1992 Mercury Capri

Imagine it’s 1992 and you’re shopping for a sporty convertible: Do you get an Australian-built front-wheel-drive Mazda based on the 323 … or do you get a Miata?

Exactly.

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Junkyard Find: 1980 Mercury Capri
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.
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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.

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Junkyard Find: 1993 Mercury Capri

After the Miata (introduced in the United States as a 1990 model) turned out to be an instant hit for Mazda, the marketing wizards at Ford decided to put Mercury badges on the Australian Ford Capri, a four-seat sporty convertible, and beat Mazda at its own game. Sure, the ’91-94 Capri was a Mazda under the skin (it was based on the 323), and it had front-wheel-drive, but so what?

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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.

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  • Tonycd Bullnuke, I had my own run-ins with Farago, who described himself to me with some accuracy as a southerly bodily orifice. But on balance, that site was a damnsight more interesting than the cost-cut ad vehicle that VerticalScope has turned it into since.
  • Cprescott Subaru could make 25 of their Edsels from the sheet metal Ford used to make 1 of their Edsels. That is one hideous vehicle.
  • Dukeisduke What about tuning devices which can improve performance while still meeting emissions standards? I'm guessing they've banned those too.
  • Dukeisduke I just saw one of these on the road recently, a very clean one. Keep in mind that this grille wasn't only on the B9 Tribeca - the second facelift of the second-gen Impreza also had the Space Snout.
  • Mike Beranek "I must assume that the engine and/or transmission failed in some extremely expensive manner."Well, it is a Subaru, so... yup.