Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Ford Capri...

Oh yeah! The Capri is one of the most iconic cars that Ford ever built and now the 80s and 90s have died, taking with them the 'boy racer' and clichéd jokey image of the Capri, it's never been a better time to own this most impressive of Ford-badged classics. Don't think like this...

...think like this instead *hums theme tune*

If you're too young to know who these fellas are, click this for some twangy guitar-based education! Oh yes, Bodie and Doyle were the 70s cops with the mop tops who stopped, er, criminals - a British, but superior Starsky and Hutch if you will. If you don't know who Starsky and Hutch are we'd like you to stop reading this blog and go and stand in the corner. You can sit down again when we tell you.

So, the Capri, yes. Well, as you've gathered they were the vehicle of choice for 70s TV cops, and rightly so. The Capri was built to be a 'European Mustang' and by God, did it succeed. Released in 1969 under the tagline "The car you always promised yourself" it sold in its thousands. People couldn't get enough of the practical yet sporty coupe, the Capri became the car to be seen in. It was modern, sleek and sexy and that's something the British public were all too keen to embrace.

That there is the car people were greeted with in '69, the mk1, Genesis if you will. A great car but not something you'll get for under under £2000, not in any condition worth having at least. No, what were's looking at here is the power-bulged, twin headlighted, long snouted final incarnation of the Capri, the Mk3 (or Mk2 facelift if, like us, you're a pedant).

Hello there, you handsome sonofabitch!

This was the car to have in the 80s. It was the car that made you want to button you shirt low, perm your Mrs's hair big and wear your chest hair fluffy, all while listening to the pumping rhythms of Genesis while cruising down the high street. With a whale-tail on the boot, tiger stripes down the sides and 'Sharon and Kev' filling the top of the windscreen the Capri was nothing short of perfection. Oh, and don't forget the zebra-print seat covers. Yeah, we know, that sounds AWESOME! This dude thinks so...

Okay, so the Capri actually had a bit of a reputation in the 80s for being something of a boy-racer car. It also became associated with car-crime due to being easier to steal than a Argos biro and with a new wave of hot hatches such as the XR3i, 205GTi and Golf GTi making it look dated, the Capri also fell from favour in a mainstream sales context. It became a joke, really. The love of 1969 had gone, now afforded to the front-wheel drive newbies an seemingly nothing else.

The Capri found itself in the media as a regular whipping boy for the 'naff' end of the scale, much as the 'Del Boy' Capri at the top of the page demonstrates. There was also one used in BBC comedy, Bottom, that we were going to show you, but the Google search had other ideas...

Hmmm. Pert, and more pleasing to the eye than Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall. Anyway, that's not what this blog is for, sadly.

Right, back to the Capri. By the late 90s and early 00s (is 00s right?) the Capri had gone full circle, becoming a rapidly appreciating classic with droves of followers who, quite correctly, remembered the car from it's glorious heyday, not it's cliched mid-life. Classic car magazine began to dish out the respect as well as specialist titles such Classic Ford and the handsomely staffed, brilliantly written Retro Ford, ahem.

The desire wasn't just to buy and cherish them, either. No, owners wanted to modify them and build them into the muscle cars they were perceived to be. That curved body, power-bulged bonnet and wide set wheels looked mean at the best of times, but with some tweaks they could be made to look utterly astonishing.

Standard or modified, on the road the Capri is a hoot to own a pleasure to drive. The low floor echoes that of a sports car, as does the view from the windscreen over that long bonnet. The rear-wheel-drive chassis, while obviously now dated, is a doddle to embrace and enjoy - ignore anyone who tells you that a Capri will spin at the first sign of trouble, they're actually more prone to understeer. Chuck on some new suspension and you'll be shocked by just home comfy they can be.

N£2G contributor Mr. Bevis used to own this monster

Engines available consisted of the 1.6 and 2.0 Pinto, the 3.0 essex V6 and the 2.8i Cologne V6. There was a 1.3 option too, but you'd be hard pushed to find one these days as it was, for lack of better phrase, useless. They were all (apart from the 1.3) good engines, even the 1.6. This an area that's subject to many an old wives tale, much like the oversteering issue. Again though, we would advise you ignore them. You don't NEED a V6 in a Capri - a 1.6 will drive just fine, a 2.0 that little bit better. Fro cruising about, they're bob-on. The V6s are of course the most desirable - many folk harbour the 2.8, but in our opinion the 3.0 Essex is a great bit of kit; torquey, shouty and easy to tune, just like any goof Ford should be. Allow our old Mk2 3.0S to demonstrate...

..ooh, we loved that car.

So, what about your £2000, what will that get you? Well, in all honesty it'll get you a semi-decent 1.6 or 2.0. Push your luck and you might even get a V6 car, although it'll undoubtedly need some work here and there. You see Capris dissolve faster than an ice cube in an Aga (the frozen water kind, not the rapper), so before you go hunting it's going to be easier to just list the bits that don't rust, rather than those that do. Here goes.

The windows.
The seats.
The tyres.

Don't believe us? This car was mint before it rained an hour ago...

Right, now that you know where not to look for rust make sure you check everywhere else. Really though, do be thorough, you'll thank us later. In the meantime, here's an example of what you can buy.

Right then, go forth and buy Capris. They're an icon, a classic and a hoot to drive, and at £2000 they're a solid investment - we can promise you they won't stay this cheap for long!