Home Pop Culture Transport Ford Capri

Ford Capri

Ever since Steve McQueen had bounced over San Francisco hills in a Ford Mustang fastback in Bullitt (1968), the design staff at Ford’s Dagenham headquarters had been desperate for a version for themselves – Rumour has it that they’d all been wearing black polo neck jumpers to work, too.

The Mustang was too big for the UK’s tiny trunk roads. The Capri, however, was perfect. It had the lines and, if you squinted hard enough, the pedigree of the Mustang. Unfortunately, originally it only had the 1300 and 1600 engine from the Cortina under its long, shapely bonnet when first launched in 1969.

As everything got Glam in 1970 though, the Dagenham boys got around to wedging the Essex straight-six from a Zodiac under the lid, and Hey Presto! The first Glam motor was born.

The Ford Capri coupe had a long bonnet – which meant that if you were involved in a head-on smash you had plenty of time to get out of the car before you even reached the accident – and a speedometer which guessed the speed you were going rather than actually knowing.

The dashboard was constructed from genuine plastic walnut and filled with clocks and dials set in holes of varying sizes.

As your Capri got older, its body would also gain holes of varying sizes – except these ones would be rusty ones.

Ford dared to compare the car with the BMW 3.0 CS Coupe, the Mercedes Benz 350 SL Coupe and the Aston Martin DBS V8. It was slower (top speed 122mph, 0-60 in 11.4 seconds) but it was a hell of a lot cheaper – £1,321 against the BMW’s £3,118, Merc’s £5,601 and Aston’s £8,349.

The Capri proved so successful that Ford revamped the Cortina, playing on its rallying success to sell the MkIII which came in suitably Glam colours – yellow, orange, silver, brown (with black vinyl roof), purple and red.

The new model was fat and flared and bore a passing resemblance to the American muscle cars revving out of Detroit at the time.

The Capri underwent several revisions during the 1970s but it is probably the Mark 3 which people remember best. Neither the Capri nor the Mk III Cortina would outlast the Glam era, with the former adopting a more business-like look (plus 2.0 and 2.8 litre engines) and TV fame as the car of choice for Bodie and Doyle in Sweeney-rip off The Professionals in 1977, and the latter getting boxy again for the rust-prone Mk IV in 1977, which was very unloved by everyone, including mini-cab drivers (and they find it hard to dislike any car).