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Ford Capri Mk I

Keeping the Promise Published: 6th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Capri Mk I

Fast Facts

  • Best model: Any six-cylinder car
  • Worst model: Any 1300cc edition
  • Budget buy: Four-cylinder cars
  • OK for unleaded?: No, you’ll need an additive
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): 4260mm x 1650mm x 1330mm
  • Spares situation: Generally very good
  • DIY ease?: Straightforward
  • Club support: Excellent
  • Appreciating asset?: Gradually
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Good buy
Early pre ‘72 cockpit (fi tted with non standard GT centre console). Few will look as good and original as this Early pre ‘72 cockpit (fi tted with non standard GT centre console). Few will look as good and original as this
Boot is small but adequate. Check the fl oor for rot Boot is small but adequate. Check the fl oor for rot

Model In Depth...

Strut tops popular rot spots. Flitch plates available Strut tops popular rot spots. Flitch plates available
Strut tops popular rot spots. Flitch plates available Strut tops popular rot spots. Flitch plates available
Later cockpit has better dash, controls and seats Later cockpit has better dash, controls and seats
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After years of being uncool, and ‘Essex Girl’, the Capri is now enjoying a new life as it hits 40… as a classy classic coupe. And rightly so!

Pros & Cons

Stylish, good to drive, good club support, affordable, pokey six-pot engines
Crude chassis, rot is common, some bits hard to fi nd, some weedy four-pot engines

Stylish cars with a cult following and decent performance tend to be out of reach for many, but there are exceptions and the Ford Capri is one of them. Built to emulate the success of Ford’s Mustang in the US, the Capri was the Blue Oval’s pony car for Europe, although it was sold in North America too, until 1977. Of course it never sold in the same sort of quantities as the Mustang, but with a wide range of engines on offer plus a multitude of trim levels too, there was a ‘British Mustang’ for every budget. With the last car having been built 35 years ago, there isn’t as much choice as there once was, so you can’t afford to be too choosy about specifi cation. However, whether you want four cylinders or six, there are some cracking Mk1 Capris available; here’s how to buy a good one.


The idea of the Capri (which remember was originally launched as a sleeker version of the 1961 Classic saloon) was mooted not long after the Mustang was launched and mock ups were already being built in March 1966. The final design was launched in February 1969, with a choice of 1300, 1300GT, 1600, 1600GT and, soon after, a V4 2000GT, editions. It’s common chat to say that the Capri was really a Cortina in drag and while it shared an enormous amount of parts, the actual fl oor pan was modifi ed with altered suspension pick up points to allow the low coupe look.

In common with the Mustang what really set the Capri apart from future rivals (there really wasn’t any at launch) was the tremendous mix of options and accessories. Three dedicated option packs were available; X, L and R ( X for exterior, L for Luxury and R for Rally - see!) which could be had singularly or in groups. Gaining the X factor cost £32 back then and spelt reclining seats, bucket style rear seat, dipping rear view mirror and reversing lights. The £15 L pack comprised such fripperies such as bumper overriders and those naff dummy side air scoops 99 per cent of all Capris wore (I did know of bloke who owned a base 3-litre Capri lacking any of the option packs-ed). Most folks teamed up the XL packs; the R option was mainly for GT versions as it meant sports wheels, matt black bonnet treatment plus Wipac driving lamps.

When the Capri was launched the company tantalisingly showed off a version fi tted with a detuned Formula 2 16V racing engine (which was later fi tted in the Escort to produce the RS1600) but it never went into production. Instead the fi rst performance Capri was the 2000GT using the wheezy Corsair 2000E engine, which tuned to 92bhp isn’t half a bad as car as it is still painted out to be.

By March 1970 the real hero arrived, Zodiac powered! The iconic V6 range was further topped by a plush and potent 3000E version and the arrival of this slingshot did the sports car market a lot of harm as the Ford left even TR6s choking on its exhaust fumes.

In September 1971 a raft of improvements surfaced with higher outputs for the 1300/1600- engined ranges. The fi rst Capri special edition was launched too; a 2000GT with Vista Orange paint plus extra trim – 1200 were built. The following month Crayford launched its Capri convertible, badged Caprice, around 30 of which were built. Or more importance was the uprating of the old Zodiac V6 engine with a racier camshaft and porting to liberate an added 10bhp and give this family-friendly Ford almost 120mph top speed, which was sensational stuff back then. Another brace of special edition GTs were made in the late spring of ’72. These featured special paint fi nishes, extra trim and a bonnet bulge, as well as indicators in the bumper and wing, rear opening windows and either black-with-red-stripe or emerald- green-with-gold-stripe paint schemes.

The following month the 3000E was dropped, then in September 1972 the Capri was facelifted, with 151 changes that included fairly major suspension tweaks, a standard bonnet bulge on all models, bumper-mounted indicators, larger front lamps with bumper-mounted indicators
and rear lamps incorporating a reversing lamp. There was also a new dash, better seats and the 1600 Kent engine was replaced by the 1600 Pinto unit. In GT form it developed almost 90bhp and was almost as quick as the V4 2000 model which remained in production; in place of the 3000E was the GXL featuring a four headlamp treatment. In August 1973 the millionth Capri was built (an RS2600), then four months later the fi rst-generation Capri was replaced by the secondgeneration model. at the same time, the RS3100 was introduced, using the 3000GT bodyshell; 248 were offi cially completed.


The Capri isn’t all mouth and no trousers because it’s as good to drive as it is to look at. The steering is uncorrupted thanks to rear-wheel drive, while the gearchange is excellent (at least on non V6-powered cars that is) – if there’s a fl y in the ointment it’s that the brakes could be stronger Germanand more progressive – especially on the GT cars where they are soon spent after hard use. The chassis is also hardly the last word in technology, which could be seen as a good thing or a bad one depending on your point of view; most owners reckon it just adds to the Capri’s classic character, although those used to a modern may feel decidedly uneasy in crosswinds with the dreaded Capri steering shake under braking! As long as you avoid the truly weedy non GT 1300s you’ll fi nd there’s enough power to have some fun – especially if the roads are slippery and the tyres are past their best. Test fi gures back then had the base 1300 hitting 60mph in about 18 seconds and maxing at around 85. The GT is much livelier with a 0-60 in under 15 seconds, which is roughly on par with a standard 1600; the 1600GT did in around 13 seconds and good ones almost touched the ton. Pinto power was a touch livelier with the 1600GT being timed at a very brisk 11.1 seconds
and around 103 top whack, not that much slower than the V4 in fact.

Of course the six-cylinder cars are the real joy with a sub nice second sprint to 60 and all that lusty torque, but it’s easy to tune the four-cylinder engines too, so if you fi nd a really superb four-pot example, don’t be dismissive about it – or a nice V4 for that matter (very rare). Of course being a Ford the Capri is super user-friendly and fairly family-sized, even if the boot is tiny. Creature comforts are minimal these days but so what? In terms of economy, gentle driving should see around 30mpg on the four pots – perhaps 25mpg for the V4 ands around 18-23mpg for the V6 – easily the former if you can’t resist its still impressive pace. What did they say about Capris at the time? Well Motor said the car was excellent value for money while enthusiast mag Hot Car said the 1600GT was an honest attempt to relieve the boredom of family motoring. Let’s talk about two rarities now which were

hardly that; the RS2600 and the RS3100! The former was a Europe-only model as the UK had the 3.0. But the German car is a lot smoother and as sift plus had fuel injection as standard. The RS3100 was a motorsport special where the engine was slightly upped in capacity so it could fall in a different racing category. Based on a 3000GT power was increased only by around 10bhp to 148bhp and the car boasted a ‘whale tail’ rear spoiler for added stability, especially on the tracks.


The smaller the engine, the less desirable the car, but as so few Mk1 Capris of any type are available, it’s a case of buying what you can fi nd. Although the engine fi tted is important, it’s essential to buy on condition, and restoration projects should be complete as missing parts can be hard to source. Projects start at £500-£1500 (the higher price being for larger-engined cars) with usable examples costing £1500-£2500. A really nice Capri will set you back between £3500 and £6500 but exceptional cars will get more – you’ll be looking at over £15,000 for a mint RS2600/3100.


The key thing here is not to think about converting a four-cylinder car into a six-cylinder one; just buy the six-pot car from the outset because you’ll need to swap so many parts that it just isn’t worthwhile or even practical these days. It’s a different matter when it comes to tuning though; porting and polishing, extra carbs and spicier cams are all worthwhile, as long as you don’t overdo things. A Kenlowe fan is worthwhile on any Capri, to reduce the risk of overheating. More importantly though, the V-confi guration engines have fi bre timing gear, which can disintegrate, leading to the engine being wrecked. Steel timing gear can be fi tted instead, at around £60 for the parts. It makes sense to do the work when the engine is being fettled anyway. Fitting later brakes from the 2.8i is a good ploy on all models.

20 things that you didn't know about Capris.....

1. Archetypcal cowboy hero JOHN ‘DUKE’ WAYNE co-starred alongside Capri in the 1975 feature film, Brannigan, playing a transplanted Chicago cop. The Capri had to jump across a half open Tower Bridge!

2 Capri name was used in three totally different Ford model lines and seven Ford-owned Lincoln Mercury brands. The Ford trio was: UK, Consul Capri of January 1962-July 1964 sales. Hottest of the American infl uenced UK Consul Capris was the 1963 GT. The 1969-1986 European Capri is the type featured here and the 1989-94 Australian Ford Capri with Mazda hardware was sold as the Mercury Capri in the USA.

3. Aside from famous appearances in UK TV series, The Professionals [X-Pack registered COO 251T] and Minder [Capri II], the Capri [a yellow 3000E] also appeared in the John Alderton/Hannah Gordon sitcom of the 70s, My Wife Next Door

4. Then manufactured in the UK [Halewood] and Germany [Cologne], the European Capri debuted January 1969, the last day of the Brussels Motor Show. It would not go on sale across Europe until February 5, 1969.

5. The Capri’s motorsport debut and fi rst major win came at the ITV World of Sport televised February 8th Croft rallycross. Driver was Roger Clark in the Ferguson 4x4 V6 mutant. Altogether 17 all-wheel drive Capris were prototype built. Five [one with automatic transmission] appeared in TV rallycross for drivers like Rod Chapman, John Taylor Stan Clark and Barry Lee.

6. Only the Capri II was offi cially badged with a mark number—‘Capri 1’ and ‘Capri 3’ areenthusiast nicknames to ease recognition.

7. There were three offi cially factory—recognized turbocharged Capris. The 1981 Zakspeed Turbo to celebrate German Championship success; Tickford’s hand-built aristocrat and the Turbo Technics 200 hp retrofi t.

8. Capri ceased production for left-hand drive markets in November 1984. Production for RHD UK fi nished 19th December 1986 at an offi cial 1,888,647 units. A recount at Ford UK in 1989 upped the fi nal fi gure to 1,900,557 covering those shipped in KD [Knocked Down] formats.

9. Sales of 1038 fi nal Capri 280 Specials [nicknamed Brooklands after their paint coding] offi cially ceased in spring 1987. Some were retained, unused, by dealers and collectors as investments.

10. Over half a million Capris were sold in North America, although the USA did not receive the third edition as US production ceased in August 1977. Still thriving to serve the US, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, Capri Club North America was found in 1997 and holds a very well supported annual Capri Swarm.

11. Famous names to race Capris—including the 1972 celebrity event at Brands Hatch Ford Sport Day in 3000Es—included: [Sir] Frank Williams, Colin Chapman, double world champion Graham Hill, triple World Champ Jackie Stewart and World Champions Niki Lauda and Emerson Fittipaldi. Celebrity winners were Stewart’s Tyrrell teammate Francois Cevert and multiple saloon car champ, Frank Gardner.

12. Unique Ford Capris for the road. Edsel Ford had a full USA emission compliant modifi ed RS2600 at 1972-75 College. Motorsport and PR legend Walter ‘Wally’ Hayes had a unique RHD drive RS2600 with carburated motor that is immortalized in the Minichamps 1/18th scale model.

13. That long Capri bonnet was made for a V8, but never a factory option. In South Africa Basil Green Motors made the closest thing, an homologation run double race championshipwinning Perana V8. Many UK tuners attacked Capri V8, including legendary Superspeed of Ilford, Essex with a Boss Mustang powertrain, but most used lighter Rover V8.

14. Gordon Spice was most successful UK Capri race driver, winning six consecutive BTCC class titles and 26 races outright. Accessory king Spice never won overall Championship- -too many other rival Capris to beat…

15. The millionth Capri [a German RS2600] was made in 1973. That was just four years, six months and fi ve days after its 1969 debut.

16. The RS badge was applied only to a pair of factory-produced Capris: the Germanand built RS2600 and the 1973-74 Halewoodconstructed RS3100. The German RS of 1970-74 was made by the thousand [4000+], but the genuine RS3100 was Ferrari-rare with 248 recorded.

17. UK manufacture of Capri ceased October 1976. After more than 330,000 made in Britain, all production switched to Cologne.

18. Most powerful and expensive Capris were the German turbocharged Zakspeed racers. Unlike the V6 road cars, these were 1.4, and 1.7 litre four-pots with 380 to more than 600bhp during 1978-82.

19. Most powerful and expensive factor yapproved street Capri was the Tickford turbocharged 2.8i V6 at 205 hp and priced from £14,985 to £17,220 when the last of 85 were sold in 1987. Design was credited to Simon Saunders, now famous for the sensational Ariel Atom.

20. The fi rst Capri project was coded Colt—son of Mustang, geddit? — and cost Ford £20 million from conception to debut. Capri II was coded Diana and the fi nal edition, Carla.

What To Look For

  • Look around the headlamps, the trailing edge of each front wing and the outer sills, as well as the rear wheelarches and quarter panels. If somebody else has already done the work, make sure the outer panel is attached to the inner – bodges are common.
  • Press hard on the sills and see if there’s any give. Try to lift the carpet enough to press from the inside as well – if the car is really rotten this should give the game away.
  • The front windscreen rubber can leak, allowing water to penetrate the windscreen pillar, A-post, sills, and footwell – damage may be done beforethe leak is noticed.
  • Take a look along the underside of each door – they often corrode from the inside out. The A-posts also rust badly, so make sure they’re not fl exing as the door is opened, as the doors are long and heavy. The weight of them is enough to cause hinge pin wear, so see if the door drops when it’s opened. Hinge pins are available cheaply: you’ll need a hinge pin remover but it’s simple enough: just push the old pin through with the new one.
  • A check on the front valance is also a good idea as they hold the water and rot badly at the point where they join the wings.
  • The MacPherson strut tops aren’t as rot-prone as most other Fords, but they still need checking. If they’re original, the production ID number will be visible as it was pressed into the wing top here. The inside edges of the bonnet also rot away if left, so make sure the metal is sound all round the panel as you’ll be very lucky to track down a replacement bonnet and extremely lucky to net one without the power buldge as Ford stopped making this type by the late 1970s.
  • The Kent-engined (four-cylinder) Capris aren’t as revered as the V6 editions, but they provide reliable and affordable motoring for those on a budget and not in a hurry. The fi rst sign of trouble will be noisy valve gear, normally down to worn rockers, cam followers and the camshaft itself – by that stage the engine needs a simple top-end rebuild.
  • Worn timing chains also cause problems – listen for rattle from the front of the engine – but it’s worn rings and bores that will blow the biggest hole in your wallet. Fumes from the oil fi ller cap and blue smoke from the exhaust will give the game away – spot these and a bottom end rebuild lies in store but again it’s easy enough.
  • On a V4, the oil pump drive can fail without warning, scrapping the engine in the process, while the fi bre timing gear can also break up, with the same result. Steel timing gear can be fi tted instead, at around £60 for the parts – but this makes the engine noisier.
  • Another common V4 malady is worn bearings for the balancer shaft which helps to reduce enginegenerated vibration. Without this shaft the V4 is a harsh unit, but once the shaft’s bearings go it’s even harsher, so it’s easy to tell if new parts are needed just by starting the engine up.
  • Look for oil and water leaks from blown head gaskets. Repairs aren’t tricky or expensive, but if the bottom end is rumbling or the valvegear is noisy, steer clear. Parts for the V4 powerplant are the hardest to source and you’re better off just going for a car with a more common engine. Capris with the Essex V6 are the most sought after, although this engine was based on the V4. It didn’t need a balancer shaft and it’s far less stressed – but the oil pump drive can still pack up and the fibre timing wheel can still disintegrate.
  • The V6 also has a tendency to overheat, especially if the radiator has been allowed to get clogged up. Blown head gaskets and cracked cylinder heads are symptoms to check for, so look for oil and water leaks in the engine bay along with white emulsion on the underside of the fi ller cap. Pistons are hard to obtain these days.
  • The Pinto replaced the Kent unit in September 1972. It eats camshafts through a lack of lubrication when the spraybar fi tted under the rocker cover (which was supposed to squirt oil onto the camshaft lobes) got blocked up. The spraybar’s design was revised years ago and as long as the oil and fi lter have been changed regularly, all should be well. A new spraybar costs under a fiver and if a new camshaft is needed the work is easy, but parts for the Pinto engine are more expensive than for the other Ford powerplants.
  • Be wary of tuned cars, as while there are plenty of reputable companies selling bits to upgrade Ford engines, some cheap parts reduce power instead. If a downdraught Weber is fi tted to up the power, make sure it’s set up properly – it often isn’t.
  • One of the great things about the Capri is its transmission, with a slick gearchange and strong fi nal drive. Any Capri transmission will take 100,000 miles if looked after and at this mileage the worst that’s likely to materialise is worn synchromesh on second gear and vocal gearbox bearings. Accelerate hard in each gear and see if the car jumps out of gear. If it does the gearbox has had it and you can bank on having to spend around £300 on a replacement unit.
  • Try to pull away in second gear and see if there’s any judder. If there is it’s because there’s either oil on the clutch or weak engine/gearbox mounts. If there’s a whirring noise when you press the clutch down it’s because the clutch release bearing has had it.
  • Automatic Capris are pretty rare. The transmission has no inherent problems, but check the colour of the transmission fl uid, which should be red or brown. Black means trouble, so check the fl uid by parking on a level surface and running the engine to normal running temperature. Select ‘P’ and idle the engine for two minutes, then with the car still idling remove the dipstick and check the level. The difference between the low and full marks is 1 imperial pint. Also make sure it’s not hanging onto the gears for too long – if it’s changing up late there’s trouble ahead.
  • Automatic gearboxes can be reconditioned for around £200.
  • Diffs don’t usually give problems until at least 100,000 miles have been racked up. The fi rst sign of impending expense is whining, although they’ll go on for ages after a whine starts. A replacement diff typically costs around £200 on an exchange basis. Also listen for clonks from worn universal joints which are cheap to replace – but the job is fi ddly.
  • If there’s a whine and steering wheel shake at some speeds, it’s likely to be worn half-shaft bearings, which cost around £25 per side to replace. If the diff is the problem this is more diffi cult as the early Timken axle needs special tools to line it up, so it’s a job best left to the experts. There’s a fl exible joint in the steering column, which can wear – if it does, the steering will be vague and it’ll also suffer from shake under braking (although having the wheels balanced on the car can reduce a lot of this).
  • Make sure any test drive takes the car over bumpy roads and listen out for knocks which might come from worn bushes in the strut top or the track control arms. If these latter bushes have had it, your best bet is to fi t new arms rather than just trying to renew the bushes – unless you really like to punish yourself. A new pair of track control arms costs £50 and they’ll come with new bushes already.
  • The rear suspension is also straightforward, with leaf springs that sag (£125 to replace) and shock absorbers that leak. Fixing either is easy enough and if the rear dampers need renewing you shouldn’t need to spend more than £40 on a new pair.
  • Cars built before September 1972 had twin radius arms to keep the back axle in place whilelater cars were fi tted with a single-piece anti-roll bar instead. Whichever system is fi tted there’s a good chance the bushes will have seen better days – but new bushes are cheap to buy and easy to replace.
  • Aftermarket wheels with extra-wide tyres are a common fi tment, which is fi ne as long as they fi t properly. Make sure there are no clearance problems and if the car looks overtyred, be especially wary of worn suspension and brakes that have been given a hard time.
  • The self-adjusting brake mechanisms can seize up if the car hasn’t been used much, but they’re not inherently unreliable so should be trouble-free.
  • New interior trim is the Holy Grail of the Capri owner – even used stuff in good condition is hard to fi nd. Anything second-hand you track down is in no better condition than what you’ve got already. Therefore, the only answer is to get stuff retrimmed; seats sag and the stitching comes apart, so getting a decent trimmer to wield their magic is the best thing to do.
  • Interior panels will also need to be refurbished (not easy) and the same goes for the dash surround – which can be retrimmed, but it’s tricky. Buy one as a spare if you can fi nd one.
  • It’s the same for exterior trim, with brightwork hard to fi nd. Badges get lost or discoloured but most are replaceable. Original chrome wiper arms may be a problem and decent bumpers rarely turn up. When they do they’re expensive, but the early MK1 had only one number plate light aperture in the bumper – look closely as bumpers for sale may have two.
  • New instrumentation and switchgear is hard to fi nd, but it’s usually reliable. Sometimes the headlight switch can get too hot because there’s no relay, so if you want to preserve the life of the unit it would be worth slotting a relay into the circuit.
  • Make sure the lights are in good condition, because they’re notoriously pricey to replace, and in the case of the headlights, hard to track down. Pre-facelift cars were fi tted with the same headlamps as an Allegro, and you’ll pay £100 for a new one. Later Capris had headlights which are now hard to fi nd, and if you can source one you’ll have to fork out over £100 for it – make sure you don’t buy a European import, as they dip the wrong way. Rear lights aren’t any better – early Capris used Escort units which crop up occasionally at around £100 each. But light units for post-facelift cars are extremely rare now and cost even more if they do materialise.

Three Of A Kind

Datsun 240Z (1969-1973)
Datsun 240Z (1969-1973)
At one time this was the world’sbest selling sports car, and it’s not hard to see why. With its punchy 150bhp straight-six, fully independent suspension and all-synchro gearbox, the Z is truly a classic icon that was looked upon as a cut price E-type and hairy Healey all rolled into one. They rust badly though, so look out for bodged restorations. A more purist choice over a V6 Capri.
Opel Manta A (1970-1975)
Opel Manta A (1970-1975)
Few coupés are as stylish as this German rarity, but there’s nothing underneath to faze you, thanks to a beam rear axle, coil springs all round and a disc/ drum braking system. UK cars got 1.6 or 1.9-litre cars which are quick enough, or you could track down an ultra-rare turbo edition. Not many left now, sadly as rust can be bad – along with body parts supply.
Vauxhall Firenza(1971-1973)
Vauxhall Firenza(1971-1973)
Another car that’s utterly conventional underneath, this Viva derived Vauxhall is easy to maintain and well supported by clubs, while its Viva-derived mechanicals ensure running costs are manageable. Don’t expect excitement from the 1.1 or 1.3-litre editions, or the 1600/1800 ones either but the 2000/2300-litre cars are fun. Parts supply is not good.


Capri or ‘crapi‘? Well it depends upon your view of this boy racer Ford but while it used to be the third-generation Capri that everyone wanted, it’s now the earliest cars that are in favour and after years in the doldrums, they have started to regain their cult following among classic enthusiasts. The golden rule is to buy the biggest engine you can fi nd; even the four-cylinder cars can be fun to drive, but there’s no substitute for a six-cylinder Capri. Stylish, fun to drive and becoming fashionable once again – the Capri has certainly kept its promise over the decades!

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