1981 Ford Capri 2.8i Ghia

Guide Price: £5,000 - £8,000


﹒Respray in Forest Green, and garaged to preserve the finish
﹒Low mileage, at just over 60,000
﹒Subtle upgrades from the Capri Special
﹒Will attain historic vehicle status next year

The Background

In recent years if you think of a fast Ford, you think of a hot hatch. The Blue Oval has turned its hand to the hot hatch craze with some style, putting out XR, ST, and RS models of most of its B- and C-segment cars over the last four decades.

Before them all though was the Ford Capri. This stylish, four-seat coupe ruled the roads in the 1970s and 1980s before the more practical - and front-wheel drive - hatches took its place.

Ford Europe originally conceived of the Capri as a Mustang for European tastes. Indeed the same designer, Philip Thomas Clark, was responsible for both designs - and though there were similarities, the Capri’s silhouette owed a lot to European sports cars like the Jaguar E-Type, with the long nose and pinched rear end.

Unlike the Mustang, Ford wanted the Capri to be affordable for a wide range of incomes. That meant that while there were some pretty sprightly models with a big, three-litre Essex V6, you could also get a Capri with the wheezy and already ancient 1.3-litre Kent engine.

After launch in 1968, Ford updated the Capri for 1974 to give the car a hatchback boot, adding a lot more practicality. This was followed in 1978 by the third and final shape - and arguably the most well-known - of the Capri in the MkIII “Project Carla”. That brought in the quad-headlights and RS2000-style grille, slightly obscured by the leading edge of the bonnet.

The Capri left the roads in 1986, after a starring stint in The Professionals, and was never truly replaced - making it an era-defining product from Dagenham.

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The History

As you’ll see below, we don’t know much about this Capri prior to January 2011. We can say it first hit the roads in April 1981, and as a Capri Ghia - introduced to the UK in 1981 - it would have set the first owner back some £7,500.

Between that day and this, it’s racked up a hair over 61,000 miles, which barely cracks 1,500 miles a year across its entire lifetime. Around 8,000 of those have come since the current owner bought the car in 2011.

A few of the MOTs on record point to a fairly typical Capri history, with some structural corrosion, and suspension and braking component issues. However at some point in 2010, the previous owner rescued the Capri through an extensive refresh, which included a respray in original Capri shade Forest Green. More mechanical work has been undertaken since.

There’s been some subtle upgrades too, but no wide-ranging modifications. You’ll spot some items from the updated 1984 version of the car, the 2.8 Injection Special, but otherwise it presents in original form.

Given the car’s date of birth, it’s now only six months until it becomes a historic vehicle, by the DVLA’s rolling 40-year age requirements. This would make it exempt from both VED and any further MOT requirements.

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The Paperwork

This Capri is coming up on 40 years old soon, and while it’s been appreciating recently, that hasn’t always been the case. A lot of cars reached the point of being almost worthless - and few made it through to the other side, like this one - and that makes for something of a hole in the document history.

The current owner has been more careful, and there’s receipts and MOT certificates from across his custody of the Capri. That includes some new components, like the radiator fan and the new exhaust system, and MOTs covering the last decade and 8,000 miles.

Although we know that there was a vehicle refurb at some point in 2010, there’s no documentation on this, nor for the replacement bits and bobs you’ll spot from the higher-grade Special model.

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The Interior

While very firmly a product of the late 1970s/early 1980s, the interior of this Capri is still a pretty smart place to be. That’s largely down to the fact it’s from the updated 1984 Special, arguably the best of the production Capri interiors and a popular upgrade.

This features a pair of front Recaro seats, with a pair of split-folding rear seats, all in matching half-leather. The fabric centres have a black striped pattern, with light grey leather on the bolsters and side supports.

That said, there is quite a bit of wear evident on all the seats that would benefit from attention - likely a re-trim, though it’s not an expensive job. There’s a gouge on the rear seats’ base, exposing the material beneath, and similar rips and wear on both front seat backs and bases. You’ll also find some marks and cuts on the rear of the front seats.

The striped fabric pattern also makes its way to the rear panels and door cards, also from the Special. However the rest of the interior seems to be Ghia original - which includes an AM-only, six-channel radio. While this is definitely in-period, it’s not wired in at present and replaced a more modern item for the aesthetic value.

Generally, seats aside, the interior is clean and fresh, including the boot. The owner has covered the interior carpet with green-piped aftermarket mats, and as a result it’s showing little wear.

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The Exterior

On the outside, the Capri is in remarkably good condition. Although it’s not entirely clear when - other than some time in 2010 and before the current owner took custody in 2011 - the car has had an exterior respray in the classic Capri colour of Forest Green.

Despite this being around ten years old, the paintwork still looks like new. We can’t spot a single scrape, scuff, or blemish; even the oft-missed filler neck surround is bright green. The owner does note that the engine bay doesn’t seem to have benefitted from the respray, but even so it’s in decent condition for an almost 40-year old surface.

Like the interior, the exterior has some Special enhancements - namely the 13-inch, seven-spoke wheels. These are actually RS items, though not badged as such as there wasn’t a Capri RS model; some later Capris had 15-inch versions of the same wheel. These do show some kerbing marks around the rims, but they’re otherwise clean. There’s a full-size spare, in the Ghia’s original pepperpot design.

The black bumpers front and rear are largely clean and bright too, save for some patches on each side at the rear. Other black components - window rubbers, door handles and mirrors, and the classic front grille - are similarly fresh, with no obvious flaws..

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The Mechanics

There’s no particular mechanical issues with these fuel-injected Capris to be cautious of, and with just over 60,000 miles under the belt of this 2.8 V6, not much you’d expect to go wrong. The current owner notes that the car drives well, with no problems.

Among the replacement parts over the past few years is a new electronic cooling fan fitted for the radiator. However the car is prone to letting the temperatures creep up when running at idle for longer periods of time.

We’ve not been able to poke around beneath the Capri, but an MOT in February did bring up a largely clean bill of health. A look through the MOT history reveals that this hasn’t always been the case, and it has taken some time to replace and repair braking and suspension components - including all the usual Capri gremlins, like control arm bushes - to bring it to its present condition.

There is a current advisory on the braking effort imbalance across the rear axle. This issue seems to have popped up before on previous MOTs, dating back to 2006 - though it is just an advisory at this point.

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The Appeal

The Capri was Ford Europe’s attempt to make a Mustang for this side of the Atlantic, and a largely successful one at that. It sold in the millions and was loved by a generation of fans of fast Fords - helped along by the bad boy hero image of Bodie and Doyle.

As well as motorsport success with the famed Zakspeed car, the Capri is an enduring icon of the 1980s, and this classic model illustrates that perfectly.

** The photos in this listing have been provided to us by the seller **

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Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.

Vehicle specification
  • Year 1981
  • Make Ford
  • Model Capri 2.8i Ghia
  • Colour Green
  • Odometer 61,406 Miles
  • Engine size 2792
  • Location Bedfordshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
30 bids
  • Ag•••• £8,100 04/11/20
  • pi•••• £8,000 04/11/20
  • ke•••• £7,900 04/11/20
  • pi•••• £7,800 04/11/20
  • ke•••• £7,700 04/11/20
  • pi•••• £7,600 04/11/20
  • ke•••• £7,500 04/11/20
  • pi•••• £7,400 04/11/20
  • ke•••• £7,300 04/11/20
  • pi•••• £7,200 04/11/20

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