Mercury Capri

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Mercury Capri
Production 1970-1977
Class Compact Convertible
Body Style 2-Door Convertible
Length 167.1 Inches
Width 64.4 Inches
Height 49.9 Inches - 50.4 Inches
Wheelbase 95.0 Inches
Weight 2,330 LBS
Transmission 4-Speed Automatic
5-Speed Manual
Engine 1.6L I4
Power 100HP-132HP
Similar Mazda Miata

The name Mercury Capri has been used for several different cars over the years. All were sold by the Ford Motor Company's Lincoln-Mercury Division in North America. The origin of the name dates back to the Lincoln Capri of the 1950s. The definition of the name matches only an island in Italy - however, the name Capri may actually be a shortening of the word "capricious" which ties in with the Lincoln Zephyr model.



The European Ford Capri was developed as a "baby Mustang" for that market, a 2-door car with a short trunklid (later hatchback) and a long hood. North American-spec Capris were built in Cologne, Germany, and were sold through Lincoln-Mercury dealers in North America. The European Capri was first sold in the United States in April 1970. It carried no marque identification, and was named simply the Capri, but it was often called the Mercury Capri, as Ford already had a Mustang for the same buyer market. The only type initially available used the United Kingdom 1600 cc Kent crossflow, with a price starting at less than $2300. The 2.0 L OHC Straight I4 was introduced for the 1971 model year. 1971 2.0 liter Capris are particularly desirable, since they have a 9.0:1 compression ratio. (it was reduced to 8.2:1 in 1972) The 2.6 L "Cologne" V6 was introduced late in the 1972 model year.

The Capri was given a "facelift" for the 1973 model year, with a new interior, revised grille, larger tail lights, and a completely different wiring harness. North American-spec Capris also received a Federally-mandated 5-MPH bumper on the front. The 1973 front bumper was a chrome bumper was mounted on the front of a steel pipe, and attached to the frame by a set of shock absorbers.

In 1974, the 2.6 liter Cologne V6 which was replaced by a 2.8 liter Cologne V6, with revised castings for both the block and heads. North American-spec 1974 Capris also had large, Federally mandated 5-MPH bumpers at both the front and rear of the car. The 1974 bumpers were covered in body colored plastic.

The Capri was restyled as a hatchback in 1975, but sold in North America as an early 1976 model. In the North American market, they were known as Capri IIs, though in most of the rest of the world, they were known as the Capri Mk II. Engine options were the 2.8 liter Cologne V6, and the 2.3 liter Lima 4-cylinder.

They were no longer shipped from Europe after the end of the 1977 model year. A few remaining 1977 Capris were sold as 1978 models. Starting in 1979, the European Capri was replaced in the North American market by the "Fox" Chassis Capri. (see below) Production of the European Capri continued for the European market until 1986. Over a half a million European Capris were sold in North America between 1970 and 1978. At its peak, Capri sales in North America were the highest for any import model except for the Volkswagen Beetle. They are now becoming sought after for restoration because of their styling, performance & relative affordability.


1980 Mercury Capri RS
1980 Mercury Capri RS

During this period, a version of the Ford Mustang was sold through Lincoln/Mercury dealers as the "Mercury Capri", giving Mercury a pony car for the first time since the Mercury Cougar was upsized in 1974 to complement the Ford Thunderbird. The Capri was built on the Ford Fox platform, which was used for the Mustang from 1979 to 2004 with a design change in 1994.

The Fox-based Mercury Capri was fairly unchanged throughout its entire run. It maintained its squared-off front fascia and grille, and distinctive flared fenders. The only major iteration happened in 1983 with the addition of a racing-inspired hatchback with a compound rear window (also known as the "bubble back"), a new rear bumper and taillights. In 1984, the high performance Capri RS received a front air dam which continued until 1986.

The drivetrain and interior options closely matched that of the Mustang year for year. There are differences but they are generally minor.

Here are some special editions for the Capri:

1981-1983 Black Magic - Black cars with gold striping, gold TRX wheels and a gold cat's head on each side of the "nose piece" just ahead of the front fender. The interior received special black seats with gold inserts. The 1983 model is extremely rare and the only Black Magic to receive the compound rear window.

1981-1982 White Lightning - This was actually the "Black Magic" version but it was allowed to be ordered in white. Dealers coined the "White Lightning" phrase from a magazine ad that Mercury ran. Mercury never used the term directly.

1983 Crimson Cat - Red with gold striping and cougar TRX wheels set this car apart. Much like the Black Magic, the Crimson Cat received custom black seats with red inserts.

1984 Charcoal Turbo RS - A Capri RS Turbo that was only available in Charcoal upper / Silver lower exterior paint with Light Grey striped rub mouldings, Garret 60 trim turbocharger, enhanced multiport EFI 4-cylinder Internal combustion engine, Michelin TRX package, 5.0 HO Sway bars, 3.45:1 limited slip rear axel, hood scoop, and orange and red lettering and striping. Sun and T Top roof were optional.

1984-1986 ASC McLaren Coupes and Convertibles - ASC (Automobile Specialty Company) "www.ascglobal.com" converted Capris into convertibles and enhanced standard hatchbacks which they renamed "Coupes". The Coupes were tuned and enhanced with a number of suspension and visual upgrades including striping, ground effects, Hella fog lights, headlight and tailight covers and honey comb wheels imported from Campagnolo in Italy. 1984 Coupes (25 produced) were all painted midnight blue; 1985. (150 produced) were either painted blue or white. In 1986 (115 made), the last year for the Coupes, customers had an even larger choice of colors, including Dark Blue Metallic, White, Black, Medium-Dark Grey Metallic, or Silver Metallic. The convertibles were a far more involved project. This required the redesigning of the car's unit construction and the fabrication of a replacement rear deck lid, floor reinforcements, quarter panel caps, tonneau cover and a windshield that was raked back an extra 10 degrees. They received a manual convertible top, with a power release for the tonneau cover. The top took up residence in the area once designated for the rear seat-back-rest and what would have been a portion of the trunk area. The ascMcLaren convertibles use a smaller top than the Mustang convertible and is unique to that car as are the seals, weatherstriping, windshield moulding, etc. The long standing rumor that the Capri Convertible was a Mustang convertible with Capri sheet metal is completely false as well as the top being borrowed from a Mercedes. allthough it looked identical to the Mercedes Benz 2-seater's comvertible roof.

1985 Mercury Motorsport Capri - Grand Prix IV Pace Car - 30 were built in 1985 as pace cars for the Detroit Grand Prix. These were also modified by ascMcLaren for Mercury and are highly sought after for their racing heritage. About two-thirds are accounted for.


1991 Mercury Capri
1991 Mercury Capri

Ford Australia produced a Mazda Miata rival named the Ford Capri from 1989, which was ironically based around many Mazda 323 mechanicals. From the 1991 model year, this car was sold in North America as the Mercury Capri. The car was sold until the 1994 model year.

Despite rumors of mechanical issues with the Capri, the Australian version was a reliable vehicle. Many are still used as rental cars on the east coast of Australia for cruising around beach areas, with the only faults being reported relating to leaks in the roof.

It is often rumored that with its increased versatility of four seats and a very large boot, the Capri could have competed well with the Miata, however US safety regulations forced the redesign of the cabin to accommodate an airbag, something Australian cars did not have as standard for many years, this delay led to the Miata being introduced into the vital American market first.

See Also


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