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The car you always promised yourself?

By raccars Published

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The Ford Capri is a true icon of British motoring history and was made in response to the incredible success of the Ford Mustang in the US. That car transformed Ford’s image, from a staid manufacturer to something altogether more alluring. The company’s European executives were determined to achieve similar results in Europe and the Capri was the result. The car was designed to look sporty but affordable and immediately upon its launch in 1969 it proved to be a sensation. It fulfilled its design promise of bringing some American-style glamour to the UK’s roads, but because most of its parts and its engines came from existing Ford models, the Capri remained affordable.

It also remained in the UK’s top ten selling cars for eleven years. There was a time in the 1970s when it epitomised a certain type of youngish, thrusting and aspirational driver, and it seemed that everyone owned one or wanted one. Sir Jackie Stewart drove a Capri, as did Sir Cliff Richard. The car also became a TV star, when both Bodie and Doyle drove Capris in the hit series, ‘The Professionals.’

It seemed that Britain loved the Capri and when sales stopped elsewhere in Europe, the last models were sold only in the UK. The car’s success was perhaps also part of the reason for its demise. It had become so synonymous with the 1970s that as the 80s dawned, the Capri was beginning to seem a little out of fashion. New hot hatchbacks, like the Golf GTi and Ford’s own Escort XR3 arrived, and offered practicality along with stinging performance. The Capri’s coupe styling and slightly less impressive performance suddenly seemed to look a bit dated.

The Capri was not about to give up without a fight, however, and the final Mark III model gave the car one last push. In 1981, the Mark III got a V6 ‘Cologne’ engine and at last the Capri could match these newcomers for performance. It developed 160hp and could accelerate from 0-60mph in an impressive 7.7 seconds. It was an impressive swansong but it was really the last time that the Capri would hit the heights. Tastes had changed and despite a slew of ‘special edition’ models, like the Brooklands, Cabaret and Calypso, sales fell and the writing was on the wall. The final Capri rolled off the production line in 1987, completing a production run of nearly two million cars. The legend was at an end but, for a time, there is no doubt that the Capri really was the car we always promised ourselves.

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