Capri History

(compiled From Ford Archive Materials)

1969, The Car you always promised yourself made its sensational debut at the Brussels International Motor Show.

The inspiration came from Ford of America's phenomenally successful Mustang, launched in 1964.

Initial sales exceeded the predicted demand by 100 per cent, because the Capri created a new breed of car on this side of the Atlantic.

Here, at last, was a sleek, eye-catching 'fastback' that bridged the gap between the traditional two-seater sports car and the family saloon. The Capri concept was made all the more attractive by a remarkably wide choice of engines from a 1.3-litre to the lusty 3.0-litre V6 — and by a range of factory-fitted option packs.

It all added up to a four-seater whose performance, looks, comfort and convenience could be tailored to suit individual preferences and pockets.

The newcomer also became a hit in the United States after appearing at the 1970 New York Motor Show. More than 500,000 Capris were exported to North America.

Ford's policy being one of constant improvement, engineers were soon working on a significantly revised version, despite the original selling like iced drinks in a heatwave.

Unveiled early in 1974, the new Capri featured a tailgate, rather than a conventional boot lid, which made the rakish hatchback an even more practical proposition. Other changes included bigger side windows — notably for the benefit of backseat passengers — additional soundproofing and the optional availability of power-assisted steering.

Ghia versions of the 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre Capris added even more value-for-money luxury to the line-up. Features included alloy wheels, tinted glass, a tilt-or-slide sunroof. and special bodyside mouldings. At the top of the performance range, a useful power increase accompanied by bigger brakes raised the 3000GT's top speed to 116 mph and chopped the 0-60 mph time from 10.2 to exactly 9.0 seconds. (Ford Test Figures)

Another big step forward was taken in 1978, following an extensive research programme that concentrated on the subtle science of aerodynamics. The result was a Capri that combined greatly enhanced efficiency with lines that were more attractive than ever.

Most of the energy-saving improvements were made at the front, where key features a spoiler, a smoother bonnet line, and a radiator grille whose ‘aerofoil’ louvres were carefully shaped to reduce drag at open road speeds. Extending major services intervals to 12,000 miles helped reduce ownership costs by an astonishing 44 per cent over a typical two-year period. A laminated windscreen became standard equipment, right across the range.

Thanks to a dramatic increase in aerodynamic efficiency, the hard charging Capri 3000S now combined 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds with a 122 mph top speed. (Ford Test Figures)

Ford's Special Vehicle Engineering group was entrusted with developing the Capri 2.8i that made its debut at the 1981 Geneva Motor Show. Based at the Research and Engineering centre in Essex, SVE decided to adopt the 2.8-litre V6 with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, plus lowered suspension, thicker anti-roll bars. gas-filled shock absorbers, and wide-rim alloy wheels fitted with Goodyear's 205/60VR NCT tyres.

The specification also included a five-speed gearbox, a limited-slip differential (1984 onwards) and ventilated disc brakes for the front wheels. All this translates into a car that goes with wonderful eagerness', the Autocar test team enthused after rocketing from 0-60 mph to just 7.9 seconds.

The Capri 2.8 Injection Special with seven-spoke alloy wheels, leather edged seats and other attractive features joined the popular 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre Laser models in 1984. Packed with performance and character, it paved the way for the superb Capri 280.

Ford's stylish Capri goes from strength to strength and is proof that sporting characteristics can be blended with the more down-to-earth virtues of a practical, family sized car.

Before the Capri's launch there was a traditional landmark in the lives of those who enjoyed driving something special. It was the sad day when the rakish two seater had to be exchanged for a saloon.

The arrival of the Capri changed all that. It provided the perfect cocktail of multi-seat convenience, personality packed styling, performance and value-for-money luxury blended with a liberal dash of that exclusive ingredient called panache. Few cars have ever appealed to quite so many people.

IN KEEPING WITH FORD'S overall philosophy, the Capri story has been one of steady development. The latest Laser and 2.8 Injection Special come from an engineering team with a world-wide reputation for making a good thing even better.

The original 'car you always promised yourself’ was such a resounding international success that more than a million had been built before the adoption of a tailgate turned the Capri into a versatile hatchback. Ford then concentrated on the wind tunnel, where exhaustive tests improved the Capri's aerodynamic efficiency while making its styling more attractive than ever.

Technical expertise is not needed to appreciate how smoothly and sweetly the bonnet sweeps down to a wind-cheating radiator grille. Equally significant is the way the bodywork below the bumper is sculpted to ease air under the car and past the front wheels. In addition, the Laser and 2.8 Injection Special sport a black, tailgate mounted spoiler. Attractive as well as functional, it goes well with the Capri's long-nosed, low-slung styling.

Smooth, flexible, fuel-efficient engines producing up to 160 PS provide performance in keeping with the strong visual appeal.

Ford's beautifully responsive three-speed automatic transmission is optional with the punchy 2.0-litre power unit, but the company's five- speed manual gearbox is standard equipment on the lively Laser and hard-charging Injection Special.

Light and precise-just like the clutch - the gearshift is right in line with the Capri's sporting character.

The suspension reflects the Capri's unique, wide-ranging appeal. Developed over millions of road miles and in the hectic, high-technology world of racing, it combines the comfort of a saloon with the crisp handling and tenacious road-holding demanded by today's most enthusiastic drivers. Rack-and-pinion steering has always been associated with performance cars. The Capri's make light work of parking without compromising the 'feel' and quick, clean reactions needed on the open road.

Features praised when MOTOR magazine put the 2.8 Injection Special through its paces included 'truly superb' Recaro seats, and the Capri's S traditionally taut handling characteristics. 'Although power-assisted, its steering retains feel and is quick and precise yet well weighted, the testers reported. 'You always know exactly what's happening to the front wheels, which makes mid-corner steering corrections easy to apply.' Equipment and trim levels highlight Ford's reputation for value-for-money quality, For instance, all Capris feature a sunroof, twin door mirrors with remote control on the driver's side, a laminated windscreen, a heated rear window, tailgate wash/wipe, integral rear fog lamps, reversing lights and a lockable cap for the 13-gallon fuel tank. Inside, flexibility is one of the most attractive facets of the Capri's character. It is basically a four-seater, but the back seats can be folded, together or individually, to optimise luggage space. Load length then increases from 36" to 65.3" with a maximum width of over 50".

The fundamental virtues of the Capri design have inevitably attracted the attention of Ford's Special Vehicle Engineering team. Their unrivalled know-how makes the 2.8 Injection Special a genuine supercar whose price is as attractive as its performance.

If only there could be a future generation of Capri models but, alas, 1986 was the final Capris assembled at the Cologne factory. The Capri always sold well which is, of course, one very good reason why Ford should have continued its production, even though its identity no longer conforms with the present Ford range.

If you liked the Capri shape you had to have one since, as the Ford Public Relations people said, "It's the car you always promised yourself." As a prospective owner, the choice was yours, performance or economy. There is no argument that, performance wise, the Capri offered excellent value for money.

The Capri changed its identity halfway through its life, with a hatchback body providing even more practical motoring for Ford enthusiasts. Designed for the UK and European markets, it suited our roads and climatic conditions well, even though a few of us would have been delighted to accept a convertible version. Its straightforward mechanical layout, of leaf-spring rear axle and MacPherson strut front end, rack and pinion steering and a choice of engines, all taken from other existing Ford models, made the Capri a winner with the DIY mechanic or tuner.

The only criticism the Capri deserves is its restricted rear leg room and limited luggage space compared to the new generation of hatchback designs but, compared to many of its sporting rivals during its day, the Capri has a great deal to offer and has proved capable of providing every day practical motoring with plenty of class.

JULY 1966 The Ford management of Great Britain decide to go ahead with the manufacture of the 'Colt' (the codename for the Capri derived from the Ford Mustang).

OCTOBER 1967 The now characteristic rear U-shape side windows were fitted in place of those originally drawn up for the Colt. First prototypes were already being tested and complaints, from rear passengers, of a claustrophobic feeling, meant that the side windows had to be modified. The original ‘Colt’ name was dropped following the discovery that the Japanese already held the copyright.

NOVEMBER 1968 Manufacture begins at both the German and British plants.

JANUARY 1969 The Capri makes its first official public debut at Brussels Motor Show.

MARCH 1969 The 2000GT introduced for the UK market, fitted with the V4 engine.

SEPTEMBER 1969 The 3000GT introduced, powered by the Ford Zodiac 'Essex' 3-litre V6.

MARCH 1970 The 3000E goes on sale, the Executive treatment consisting of vinyl roof, cloth insert seats and opening rear windows.

SEPTEMBER 1970 Power assisted brakes become standard across the range, together with an improvement in lighting.

SEPTEMBER 1971 The first of many special edition models introduced. The first, based on the 2000GT, painted in bright vista orange with rear window slats and a bootlid mounted spoiler.

OCTOBER 1971 3000GT given increased power output — hotter camshaft and larger inlet valves, re-shaped inlet ports and larger jets in the twin choke carburettors plus tubular exhaust manifolds; 3.09:1 final drive and new set of gearbox ratios; softer rear suspension; improved brakes.

JUNE 1972 All models received the now characteristic 3-litre bonnet bulge.

SEPTEMBER 1972 Facelift for the Mk I consists of larger lamps for both front and rear of the car, revised facia, two-spoke steering wheel, anti-roll bar fitted to rear in place of the original link rear axle with softer suspension. The new 3000GXL built with uprated gearbox and quad headlights. The UK range includes the 1300L, the single overhead cam 1600XL/GT and the V4-2000GT.

AUGUST 1973 1,000,000th Mk I Capri built.

DECEMBER 1973 • Production finished.

JANUARY 1974 Limited run of the RS3100, officially 1000 manufactured for Group 2 Racing, featuring front and rear spoilers and overbored 'Essex' V6 engine.

FEBRUARY 1974 Mk II Capri introduced. Mechanically similar but now offered with choice of power steering and new body style featuring three doors; trim levels include the Ghia.

MARCH 1975 Capri S (Midnight), painted black with gold coachlines, gold alloy wheels, black interior with gold cloth inserts for seating.

OCTOBER 1975 The 'S' model established as regular production model.

OCTOBER 1976 UK factory stops production of the Capri; from now on all manufacturing transferred to Germany.

AUGUST 1977 The Capri no longer built for the USA market.

MARCH 1978 Mk III Capri introduced, revised bumpers to include plastic quarters, quad headlamps, metal front spoiler and new grille.

MARCH 1981 2.8i Capri; petrol injection fitted, together with Granada V6 ventilated front discs, new suspension, alloy wheels and new interior trim.

JANUARY 1983 Five-speed gearbox fitted to 2.8i with upgraded interior trim.

FEBRUARY 1983 Range reduced to LS, S and 2.8i. LS and S models gain the 2.8i-based interior. The ‘S’ gains the 2.8i-based suspension.

NOVEMBER 1983 Tickford introduce full turbo production, rear disc brakes, limited slip differential, luxury interior and body-styling modifications.

JUNE 1984 Laser announced.

OCTOBER 1984 2.8i 'S' launched, with leather seats, limited slip differential and new alloy wheels.

JUNE 1986 2.8i Turbo Technics announced.

NOVEMBER 1986 Final production of the Capri. Special Edition 280 model launched, based on the 2.8i S.