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Ford Capri 280

Ford Capri 280 Published: 28th Dec 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Capri 280
Ford Capri 280
Ford Capri 280
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Last ever Ford Capri brings back such happy memories

Car: Ford Capri 280 Brooklands Year: 1987 User: Alan Anderson

This year marks 30 years of the death of the Capri, dubbed the The Car You Always Promised Yourself almost 20 years previously. In truth, this old timer only survived for so long due to the sheer enthusiasm of British owners who loved its style and simplicity that were the chief selling points from 1969-87. But, like the MGB, the car was outstaying its welcome, although at least Ford ensured that it went out with a bang with the final 280 Brooklands edition that Classic Motoring briefly spent some time with.

Being an east Londoner, now residing in Essex, I am not ashamed in admitting to liking the fastback Fords, owning several and have driven everything from the almost fraudulent 1300XL right up to the rare, rapid Tickford Turbo.

Most critics say Capri was merely a Cortina in sexier clothes – but so was the Falcon-based Mustang! Actually, Capri wasn’t Cortina-based as many still say it was; the platform used was more Corsair-derived boasting a longer wheelbase and wider tracks, plus Escort rack and pinion steering.

Other myths worth dispelling include slating the V4 2000GT variant. True, it was never the smoothest or rev-happy of engines, and felt far more at home in the Transit van, but it went well and the lighter lump under that oh so long bonnet gave it better handling, and certainly lighter steering, than the exalted V6 3-litre, of which I owned a few. This may still sound sacrilege to many but that’s probably because they had driven the maligned V4?

Returning to Ford Heritage’s last-of-the line Brooklands was a real privilege as it’s the final Capri ever made – but far from being wrapped in cotton wool has been well used and which is exactly what classics should be about… Even though the 2.8i was the best developed production Capri (care of then newly opened Ford SVE division), it was yesterday’s car by the 1980s where the brat pack of sharp suited and superglue gripping front-wheel drive GTi pocket rockets ruled the roost and roads. And yet, drive a good Capri three decades on and you can’t help feeling that big-engined ones can be likened to a sort of smaller scale old school Aston; cars that had to be taken by the scruff of the neck rather than relying on fingertip finesse.

Anyone more used to modern FWD hot hatches would be shocked to discover the great arcs of steering wheel movement needed to haul that long bonnet round a corner and the whoopsa- daisy rear end that even with a limited slip differential on the last models still had its work cut out to keep the short tail in check – Mk1s were the worst tail waggers.

Capri brakes were always criticised on the faster versions for being barely adequate (no surprise as were not much beefier than 1600GT anchors, (albeit on the 2.8i they were thankfully at last larger and ventilated) and the long squishy middle pedal brought back happy heart-pounding memories although, it was good to rediscover to by the time the 2.8i Capri surfaced, in 1981, that the infamous Capri steering shimmy under braking had largely been eradicated, less so the solid ride.

Like the TR6, which suffered badly sales-wise due to the all round performance and practicality of V6 Capris, what you remember above all else is the grunt of a big engine. Nowadays, 160bhp is small beer, but back then it was enough to give this Ford genuine sports car pace even though the (Cologne) German 2.8 never enjoyed the sheer lust of the larger British ‘Essex’ 3-litre engine.

Most motoring journalists said good-bye and good riddance to the Capri back in 1987, and yes I was one of them! But, in my defence, chiefly because time and evolution doesn’t stand still – it did feel desperately old against what else was on offer in the showrooms for a not inconsiderable £12,000 – like the same-aged Peugeot 205 GTi opposite. But viewing the same car as a classic in 2017 takes on a entirely new perspective, a wonderful look back to a period when such ‘working class’ performance cars were cheap to buy and (relatively) insure – and our roads weren’t gatso-infested… I firmly believe that this was the final golden age of fast yet pretty responsible motoring and quick Capris from the 1600GT upwards were at the heart of it.

I can’t quite remember what my personal Capri count was in the end, but wouldn’t mind adding another one to the long list – even a 1300XL. Yes really!

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