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Ford Capri Mk III

Published: 23rd Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Capri Mk III
Ford Capri Mk III
Ford Capri Mk III
Ford Capri Mk III
Ford Capri Mk III

Model In Depth...

Ford Capri Mk III
Ford Capri Mk III
Ford Capri Mk III
Ford Capri Mk III
Ford Capri Mk III

Buyer Beware

  • Look out for fake or bodged V6 cars. Has a 3000S been converted or are inferior 1600 or 2000 parts used to keep it going? Bogus RS3100 and Tickfords are common so check with owners clubs if in doubt.
  • Rust is naturally a problem and the Capri needs a careful vet. Look underneath for floor rot, chassis rails, axle location points and so on. Inner sills go as do outers and frilly rear arches are also common. Look for bodging.
  • That old Ford rot spot – inner wings under the bonnet by the suspension tops – is a worry but repair panels are available. Look for repairs and inner wing and chassis rail corrosion. The massive front valance panel is very rot prone.
  • The old Essex V6 is a rugged unit but known to shed timing gears – metal replacement noisier but more trustworthy. Some parts such as pistons are becoming harder to source.
  • V6s have tendency to overheat so watch for blown head gaskets and warped heads. Auto chokes are notoriously fickle and many have been converted to manual operation and fitted with American Holley carbs.
  • The 2.8is suffer similar foibles but is sweeter. The old school EFI is reliable. The later 2.9i from the Granada makes a good swap plus many fit the 24V Scorpio unit that virtually drops right in.
  • Poor brakes and wheel wobble under braking is a Capri way of life – the latter is usually the U/J fitted to the rack. Dampers can lose their vitality easily. Gas replacements are beneficial.
  • Parts supply isn’t bad but interior and bright work can be very hard to find at realistic prices.

Fast Facts

  • Driving: 4/5

    Plenty of V6 dash for not too much cash, but watch those brakes!

  • Usability: 3/5

    Clumsy round town, but light controls and hatchback compensate

  • Maintaining: 4/5

    Fabled affordable Ford serviceability but parts drying up

  • Owning: 3/5

    Lairy image fading as values rise for clean Capris. Get on board now

  • Value: 4/5

    Becoming collectible, 2.8-litre limited editions are getting pricey

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The third and final edition of the Capri was a top drive and many have survived well, giving you a style icon choice from 1300cc economy to V6 turbo terror, reckons Jeremy Walton

When Ford launched the third and final generation of Capri the original’s glamour evaporated and sales slumped, slipping below 12,000 a year in 1985. Only loyal Brits kept it alive from 1984 onwards. And that’s a pity, because the third Capri was a much better to drive and own than before. The Capri 3 saw some serious performance upgrades introduced for the 2.8i fuel injection V6 that was rated at 160bhp at launch. Turbocharging alternatives from Britain [Turbo Technics] and Germany [Zakspeed] delivered 200 and 188 bhp respectively and even a bespoke Tickford turbo Capri was offered with plump luxury leather and coachbuilder’s wooden art wrapped around a 205bhp 2.8-litre motor.

Which model to buy?

Ford created over 1.9 million Capris throughout three generations, so you’d think that there would be a wide choice. Actually, the Mk3 has the widest model selection, while 1969-73 Capris become an expensive rarity, especially the sportier versions. The 1969-74 Capris bore the RS 2600/3100 badges and founded the car’s competition reputation. Halewood built 337,491 UK Capris, including the RS3100. In contrast, the 1974 Capri II introduced the fast/hatchback concept, softening both sales and the hard man (and hard ride) image. Even TV’s famous Capri II inMinder, and the gradual introduction of sportier Capri S, only postponed the inevitable. Almost two years after Capri production shifted to Cologne, the Capri III appeared in UK showrooms, which became a more focused sports coupe. The model range was reduced, but Ford still offered a 1300 starter of 57bhp and the fabled Essex 3.0-litre V6 (138bhp) to top the line. New prices spanned a sniff under £3000 to £5337.

The valued Capris outside the RS originals are the 3.0-litre V6s and the fuel injected 2.8i versions, the latter sharing hardware with the Granada and the new Sierra XR4i/XR4x4. Old racers have a soft spot for the bigger (carburettor) 3.0-litre Capris, so finding one that has not been modified is tricky. The Capri’s V6 powertrain was dropped in 1981 and the 2.8i replaced it in March. It arrived in Britain as Ford’s fastest European product in July priced at £7995. Independent tests reported 129mph and 7.9 seconds for the 0-60mph sprint. Granada-based vented front discs replaced 3.0’s warp-crazy solid units and pepper pot alloys fronted unique Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE) development, including Bilstein gas-damped suspension. This was one Great Capri deal.January 1983 saw the phased introduction of a five-speed gearbox to 1.6, 2.0 and 2.8i Capris, a unit shared with the Granada and the Sierra. Acceleration drifted above 8 seconds to 0-60 mph as the 2.8i adopted heavyweight luxury features, but a fifth gear boosted fuel consumption to 30.1mpg. The October 1984 injection 2.8-litre Specials packaged up a limited slip differential, leather cabin and colour-coding details, plus seven-spoke alloys all for £9500. The final fling Brooklands Green 280 cost £11,999 and added 15-inch diameter, seven-spoke, RS alloys wearing 195/50 VR Pirelli P7s. A full leather cabin treatment and extended colour coding to mirrors and grille joined the existing LSD, tinted windows, plus mechanical tilt and slide sunroof. Special editions multiplied as the sales years went by and included the Calypso 1600 and Cameo 1300 in summer 1981, the May 1982 Cabaret 1600 and the longer-lived Laser series, which got more equipment. Picking between the 1981-1987 Capri 2.8s – all subsequently rated at 150bhp – seems straightforward. Pay the thick end of £10k for one of the 1038 runout Capris nicknamed Brooklands (officially Capri 280) or £7500-ish for the previous 2.8i injection Specials. The earlier 2.8i four-speeds can be found for just under £5000, depending on history and condition. Note that the Ghia, so hyped in Capri II format, survived in later form. You can find good examples with 2.0 and 3.0-litre power and automatic transmissions easily enough.We saw an apparently unmolested gold 3.0 Ghia auto at £2000 rather than the £8000 asked for quite ordinary 1969-73 Capri 3.0-litres, or the stiffer £15,000- £20,000 demanded for the rare RS3100 collectible.

Behind the wheel?

Only us loyal Brits kept the Capri alive from 1984 onwards!

The Capri’s acceleration will surprise most of today’s traffic, as both the 3.0-litre and the 2.8i allow for strong mid range overtaking. In contrast anything less than 1600GT/S spec will find it hard going. Other dynamic bonuses of the bigger-engined V6 models are numb but accurate power steering, a floppy but sturdy five-speed manual, fantastic ventilation, easy controls and supportive seat comforts from the front Recaros. The brakes, never a Capri strongpoint, are bloody poor by 2009 standards. You adapt to longer stopping distances and wandering over bumpy braking zones. That said, modern retro fit tuning gear improves matters considerably. The V6s (old 3.0-litre or newer 2.8i) are full-fat fun, endowed with loads of low down grunt. In terms of performance, there’s not to much different between the 138bhp Brit and 160bhp German power, although the later car is not so rough and ready – or lusty. The four-cylinder alternatives aren’t bad, especially in 2.0-litre form, and have benefits for younger readers in respect of insurance and more modest appetites at the pumps although a lot really depends on the state of engine tune, etc. Expect 20-24 from a good V6 and 27mpg or upwards from the rest.

Daily Driver?

It’s a Ford, which, as ever, means top user friendliness

Absolutely. This is a proper rear-drive Ford with fun and frolics to cheer up your workaday world with affordable running costs and riotous rear-wheel handling. It’s a Ford, which, as ever, means top user-friendliness for its time. The cockpit is snug but comfy (in Recaro-seated 2.8i guise anyway) while the controls are typically Ford logical. The fifth gear (fitted to both the later 2.0 and V6) makes the going a lot easier on motorways although the car shows its age with excessive wind nose. It has to be said that the MK3 was by far the most sorted Capri and, thanks to input and development by Ford’s SVE department, the 2.8i even handled well. Sure, it can be a tad tail happy if you are over clumsy with the throttle, but that’s all part of the Capri’s charm. Ford slashed maintenance costs for the final model, sealing some major units for life and claiming a 44 per cent saving every 20,000 miles. Of course the car’s actual condition in 2009 really governs these costs. but any Capri is generally the easiest and most affordable of modern classic coupes to live with.

Ease of Ownership?

If you are going to work on any classic, a Ford is one of the easiest. They respond to unlikely fast fixes. Space around the engine bay is massive, particularly on the four-cylinders, so access is particularly easy. Special tools are rarely needed, save for spring compressors and K-Jetronic fuel injection tricks but it’s nothing like as complex as a modern which needs NASA-style computers to read the fault codes. Like Audi, Ford makes many spares obsolete shortly after its hot sellers leave the lines. but most parts are easily sourced (many still over the spares counter), either through multiplying specialists, the perils of eBay or auto jumbles, and owners’ clubs. Sadly, correct interior trims demand big searching hours. On the low mileage Ford Heritage demonstrator, the seat bolsters had scuffed badly. Jo Public examples want a thorough cabin examination alongside the usual rust suspects. Fortunately, it’s more rust-resistant than other Ford classics, and better than most 1980s BMWs. Yet low talent, high speed, crashes are an unpleasant fact in rear drive Fords. Seee it drives straight and true!



Capri is launched as our smaller take on the Mustang philosophy – a sporty 2+2 with a huge choice of engine and trim packs that’s as cheap to run as a family saloon. Zodiac-powered V6 flagship arrives that September.


Range face lifted and many of the X, L and R packs no longer available individually. Engines are boosted across the range, the 3.0 V6 gaining a healthy 10bhp more care of camshaft and breathing improvements.


Series 11/2 launched that summer featuring a heavy revamp, ohc 1600/2000 engines and a softer suspension set up. 3000E is replaced by 3000GXL with US sourced fourheadlamp look. New interior is good enough to see out the life of the car.


Ultra rare homologation special RS3100 introduced for the UK using a slightly enlarged engine to 3.1-litres so it can run in different motorsport categories. Based upon the 3000 GT (not GXL) with front/rear spoilers. Beware of fakes!


Hatchback Capri II launched with ‘third’ rear door and less extrovert shape; mechanically the car is much the same but GXL replaced by Ghia. Rare black JPS (1600 and 2000) GTs launched in 1975 to commemorate For’s link with the Lotus F1 team.


Capri MK3 launched in April with square cut nose plus revised mechanicals and new trim. S models replace old GTs with gas-filled dampers. Refreshed front end said to improve poor cross-wind stability and aid economy – sort of!


New Capri 2.8i launched to replace 3000S, which remained in production for a short while. 160Bhp German V6 with retuned suspension running on new Goodyear NCT tyres. In Jan 1983, a five-speed gearbox is fitted as standard equipment.


Tickford Capri launched with 205bhp from turbo V6 and fully revamped suspension by ex-Lotus F1 driver John Miles. Heavy looking body kit (which really worked) gave the car an Aston Oscar India apprarance but at £18,000 it was deemed too dear for a humble Capri.


At last a limited slip diff was fitted to the big Capri in 1985! Last hurrah for the 2+2 came in the form of the 280 Brooklands – a super luxury leather-clad Green 2.8i with special appointments including dark green paintwork.

We Reckon...

The final Capris are fine blends of low cost fun and distinct style. Go for the 2.8-litre limited editions if you are financially strong enough for an investment or tweak a 3.0-litre for a cheaper taste of Mustang brutality, sized for Britain. You can view a 2.8i as a seven-tenths Aston Martin, especially the rare and desirable Tickfords. Forty years on and the promise of affordable fun continues to live on with the Capri.

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