The Ford Capri: Biography of a cult classic

Ford Capri

Capri was a name used by the Ford motor compnay for three different models of car, ranging from the early 1960s to the 1990s. However, a Ford Capri to most British motorists instantly brings to mind the coupe model produced by Ford of Europe from 1969 until 1986.


Originally, the Ford Capri was going to be called the Colt, as Ford tried to capitalise on the American success of the Mustang by producing a similar model for the European market.

Based on the Cortina for its mechanical structure, the Capri was built in Britain, at Ford plants in Dagenham and Halewood, as well as at plants in Genk (Belgium), as well as in Germany at Saarlouis and Cologne.

The original design of the car proved popular with motorists, with sales of around 400,000 up until 1970. Ford then released an upgraded version, known as the 'Mark 1 Facelift' by enthusiasts. This made some comestic changes to the lights, seats and suspension, and the engine was changed from a Kent to a Ford Pinto.

The millionth Capri rolled out the factory in August 1973, and by early 1974 the Mark 2 version of the car was on the market.

Later Models

Ford would release the reliable Mark 2 version of the Capri in 1974, looking to make the vehicle more suited to the demands of everyday driving.

One change was the introduction of an hatchback boot. There were also changes to the dashboard and a smaller steering wheel.

The Mark 3 would be released in March 1978, but by then sales were declining and, although the car would go through several modified and limited edition versions, it eventually ceased to be produced in 1986, by which time the car was being made only for the British market.

Cult Classic

The Capri was well-regarded by those who drove it, with particular highlights being the light and precise changing afforded by the gear box, as well as the bucket seats and the car's ability to accelerate, with it being capable of 0-60 mph in 12.5 seconds. Leg room for passengers in the back was limited though.

The Capri is a car which has remained popular with motorists, and its occasionally quirky history means it is still largely viewed with great affection even by people who know little about cars.This cult image has been helped by TV shows such as the British 70s and early 80s cop show 'The Professionals', where the protagonists tended to use the vehicle for their glamourous and dangerous work.

Ford themselves manufactured a John Player Special limited edition of the car, known as the JPS. This came onto the market in March 1975. The only colours in which it was available were black or white. The car's paint job featured several yards of gold pinstriping and gold colored wheels to make it resemble the Lotus/JPS Formula One cars of the time. The upgraded interior boasted beige cloth and a black-trimmmed carpet.

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