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Ford Capri 3000 MKII

Ford Capri 3000 MKII Published: 26th Mar 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Capri 3000 MKII
Ford Capri 3000 MKII
Ford Capri 3000 MKII
Ford Capri 3000 MKII
Ford Capri 3000 MKII
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Stuart looks back with mixed emotions on the Ford Capri 3000 Mk II Ghia which he ran back in 1974 but wouldn’t have minded a 2.8i at all...

Inevitably I was a bit influenced by what had preceded it, so I was at first disappointed by the Ford Capri 3000 Mk II. It replaced an Opel Commodore GS Coupé 2.8 automatic I had been enjoying – one of the best cars I ever had – and in contrast the Capri was noisier, had heavier steering, and visibility was much more restricted. Also, the model supplied was not the one I wanted. I had asked for the GT version, but it meant a long delay before one would be available, whereas the Ghia version could come straight away. To a casual observer it sounded I was almost being ungrateful being given the swish Capri, and the top Ghia at that, but it wasn’t the case…

NOT SITTING PRETTY

Among the numerous Ghia refinements, called enhancements, were the high-back seats which we called tombstones. Now commonplace, I put up with the resulting lack of view, either to the left at junctions or in multi-lane traffic and when reversing, for a couple of weeks but then had them changed for GT ones which were cheaper but in my opinion also better, giving more lateral location and not obstructing the rear quarter view. I also found them more comfortable than the Ghia ones and I would recommend anyone planning to buy a Capri to go for the GT model rather than the Ghia for this reason. One thing in the Ghia spec which I did like was the standard fitting of a sunroof. Another useful advantage was that it came with a rear wiper and washer (now known in the trade as a bidet!) as well, though these could be added to others for £23.

Once the seating had been sorted out I came to terms with the Capri, and really enjoyed its vigorous performance and the smoothness and quietness of its V6 3-litre engine. It was also something of a revelation to find that it had a really responsive automatic transmission, called the Bordeaux. In contrast to the Borg Warner 35 automatic, which colleague Martin Lewis christened the ‘Bog wandery squelch pump’ and tended to do everything in top gear unless ‘booted’ with full throttle, the Bordeaux changed down to second whenever intermediate power was wanted. Top speed was 114mph which was 8mph lower than the original Road Test car with manual transmission had managed. Acceleration from rest to 80mph took 18.1 seconds – pretty good going in those days.

ALL TYRED OUT

On wet roads, of which we had plenty in 1974, the Capri exhibited an alarming proneness to lock its front wheels under braking, and I had one or two worrying moments when it seemed that I couldn’t stop, even with attempts at cadence braking on and off the pedal, so would have to try to steer out of the impending accident! Of course, we didn’t have anti-lock braking in those days. After 13,000 miles there was sufficient wear on the initial equipment tyres, which were Pirelli Cinturatos made in Germany, to justify a change. I specified Goodyear G800S steel-braced radials and the improvement in wet road grip was quite dramatic. Also, the new tyres were better balanced than the initial equipment ones had been, resulting in smoother, vibration-free running at speed. These days we take for granted that tyres will be properly balanced on the wheels before fitting to a car, but this was not the case in the 1970s.

Two years earlier, in 1972, I was able to use a Mk I Capri 3-litre for a caravan towing test, in which it excelled, helped by the well- located beam rear axle suspension and the very short distance between the centre line of the back wheels and the tow hitch – always an important factor for towing stability. With the Mk II the towing performance was equally good and the main advantages were the much reduced engine noise and the greatly increased load space. Fuel consumption when towing a big caravan, almost as heavy as the car itself, was around 18mpg. Running solo and cruising at around 85mph it gave 21mpg, with a respectable 23-24mpg available in more gentle touring conditions.

THE INDESTRUCTIBLE CAPTAIN SCARLETT

A colleague, the late and much missed Michael Scarlett, borrowed the Capri to drive out with our photographer Peter Cramer to Yugoslavia to cover the end of the World Cup Rally.

On the way back, in true Scarlett style, Mike was driving much too fast on a rough road in Yugoslavia and went over a rock concealed in the mud. It damaged the sumps of both the engine and automatic transmission plus tore off one of the fuel tank retaining straps. They managed some jury rig repairs and the car made it back to England with the 13-gallon petrol tank capacity reduced to about eight gallons and the oil level far above the normal full mark! Repairs were very expensive because fitting a new oil sump involved removing the engine.

By the time its year of long term testing was up, the Capri had covered 20,000 miles and never given any trouble apart from the damage caused by that Yugoslavian rock, and it left lasting memories of its reliability with infallible first time starting, responsiveness of the automatic transmission which was something of a revelation in those days, and a very comfortable driving position.

Improvements we were hoping for on any future Capri III were better handling, braking and ride comfort, but a Mk3 never appeared alas because I’d have liked to have had a 2.8i although Autocar did run a 3000S, in a special lime green colour scheme that never went into production. That car (that’s currently up for sale at auction I believe) was subsequently sold to colleague John Miles (ex-Lotus GP driver) who personally developed it further to improve the Capri’s inherent poor high speed stability. Some of his mods made it on to the turbo Tickford Capri.



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