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Ford Capri

Ford Capri Published: 17th Jan 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Capri
Ford Capri
Ford Capri
Ford Capri
Ford Capri
Ford Capri
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In January 1969, Ford launched the sports car for the common man and the ‘British Mustang’ has never been replaced in our hearts reckons Andrew Roberts

Fifty years ago, there really was no alternative if you craved the charisma of a Mustang on a budget of a Cortina Mk2. The Reliant Scimitar GTE and the Gilbern Invader were both comparatively expensive, the MGB GT had no delusions of providing a reasonable back seat and the Triumph Vitesse 2-Litre Mk2 was a sporting saloon rather than a coupé. Vauxhall would not offer a Capri alternative until 1971 with its Firenza and in early 1969 the one major British rival to ‘the car you’ve always promised yourself’ was Sunbeam’s Rapier. However, the Rootes/Chrysler UK offering still had an image of Brylcreem and string-back gloves, while the Capri represented the coming decade of maroon flared trousers and unfortunate male hairstyles.

Project ‘Colt’ commenced in 1964, the name being eventually replaced by Capri. British-built models initially came with a choice of three engines: 1.3-litre, 1.6-litre and (V4) 2.0-litre which were also available in GT tune – plus, famously, a myriad of Custom Packs along the lines of the super successful Mustang. Ford worked on the wise assumption that an absolutely base specification model represented social death and so the base L pack would decorate your Capri with over-riders, a fuel filler lock and (fake) air extractor vents. The X-pack gave you reclining front seats and a more comfortable rear bench, a dipping rear mirror and reversing lamps, while the GTs could also be specified with the X-package; fog, spot and map lamps, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, Ro-Style wheels (of course) and, should you desire it, a matt black bonnet.

Compared with Sunbeam’s Rapier, which was restricted to a line-up of just three models (including Alpine), this gave Ford a range to suit a vast array of customers, from the junior executive who wanted a 1300 as a £890 alternative to a MG Midget, even if it was capable of just 84mph, to the would-be Jackie Stewart in a 2000 GT. Autocar tested a 1600 GT XLR; the price was £1161 6s 10d including an optional radio for £31 7s 7d. The top speed of 96mph was slightly lower than a Cortina 1600E – “because it is higher geared” – but the weekly concluded: “Wherever we took the Capri there was a lot of interest in it. Not from enthusiasts, as you might expect, but from ordinary family men who had always yearned for a sports car. Really it is just a saloon with very sporty lines but it does things

Remember when… 1969

Half a century ago, as the Capri was the car you always promised yourself, America made a pledge to land on the Moon before 1970

Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the Moon that July along with Buzz Aldrin. A second lunar landing was also successful that November with Conrad and Bean.

Just days before the summer Moon landing, American Senator Ted Kennedy was involved in a bizarre single car accident at Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts resulting in the death of passenger Mary Jo Kopechne. The car left a minor bridge and Kopechne suffocated (rather than drowned according to reports) inside the submerged, overturned car which was discovered before Kennedy reported the accident.

In the UK, the bouncy Space Hopper toy came on sale just after Xmas, Sir Matt Busby announced his retirement and dropped drummer Pete Best (The Beatles) won a lawsuit against the Fab Four, who – days later – performed for the final time, on the rooftop of Apple Records. Lennon married Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman – all this by April, the same month the oh so trendy Rayleigh Chopper bike was in the stores!

A basic Capri cost £890, that’s £40 dearer than the Escort 1300GT! On the used forecourts, how about a ’66 MGB GT, a ’68 Lotus Cortina, a similar aged Jaguar Mk2 3.8, a slightly older 3.4 S-Type or a nearly new Mini Cooper S. Tempting stuff…

 



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