∙Superb condition with only 61k miles ∙Only three owners from new ∙Garaged and lightly used since 1996 ∙New cam belt, oil and filters and ready to be enjoyed
Some marketing slogans never die. A full twenty years after running the original ad campaign, employees of a certain building supplies company reported that they still encountered people asking if they had ‘the Jewson lot’. Courtesy of then-advertising executive Salman Rushdie, cream cakes will always be ‘Naughty but Nice’. And for anyone of a certain age, ‘The Car You Always Promised Yourself’ was obviously a Ford Capri.
Less charitably described by Car magazine as a ‘Cortina in drag’, the original Capri was introduced in 1969 and mated the oily bits of the Cortina to an attractively designed coupe body which was intended to play the role of a European Mustang, and to replicate its sales success. To a large degree, it succeeded; off-the-shelf mechanicals and a desirable shape made it an affordable and popular proposition and by 1974, 1.2 million had been sold. At this point, Ford introduced the Capri II with a focus on practicality bringing a hatchback and folding rear seats, while the engines on offer now included the 2.0 ‘Pinto.’
In 1978, the mark II was lightly revised, with just enough changes to merit a ‘mark III’ designation. Most significant was the change from the pair of rectangular headlights to four circular lights cowled under the leading edge of the bonnet, which gave a much more aggressive face to the car. Despite the growing popularity of hot hatches, this version remained in production until 1986 with the last two years being solely for the UK, where the model had developed something of a cult following. During those final years, the four cylinder models – offering a 1.6 or 2.0 version of the venerable Pinto were badged as ‘Laser’ and incorporated most of the refinements from the V6 edition, together with the 4 spoke alloy wheels which were previously available on the ‘S’ model. The 2.0 Laser version, as we see here, produced 100bhp which drove the rear wheels via a 5 speed manual gearbox. The Capri was not directly replaced, the market for affordable coupes not being particularly vibrant at the time and, although there have been numerous ‘next Capri’ claims for subsequent concept and production cars, it remains very much a car of its era and has a loyal following to this day. However, given recent form, we can’t rule out the name plate being shortly revived for an electric SUV.
The vendor is a serial Capri driver who has owned a string of different models over the last 11 years and is a member of the Capri Club International and Capri Club Northern Ireland. He acquired this fine example in November 2020 when he found himself Capri-less and it came up for sale nearby. It had been in the previous owner’s possession since 1996, when it was purchased in London and was kept in his parents’ garage in County Down and only driven occasionally. Having been stored in domestic garage, the paintwork down the sides was in need of a refresh and so they are believed to have been resprayed at some point in the last five years. It is thought that the wheels were refurbished and the tyres replaced (due to age) at the same time.
However, the vendor was originally looking for his perfect Mark I Capri and, having purchased this car, his ideal option then promptly appeared. He leapt at the chance to snap it up and now with twice as many Capris as he needs, sadly this one has to go to a new home. Anyone on the mainland contemplating a purchase should be reassured by the vendor’s experience of shipping his Mark I in from Scotland which was smoothly and expertly handled by a shipping company who took care of the post-Brexit paperwork.
The previous owner clearly took very good care of the car but unfortunately wasn’t the sort to hang on to invoices and receipts, hence the uncertainty over the exact period since the paintwork refresh. The only paperwork present therefore is the V5 and MOT certificate – though it should be noted that, as the car is registered in Northern Ireland, the MOT history is not available to view on the DVLA website. That said, the condition of the car speaks for itself.
In general, Capri interiors have not worn well but this one stands out as one of the better examples. It’s true that there are a couple of age-related problems: the steering wheel stitching has come adrift at the top, and the dashboard displays some cracking that is very common in Capris but both are fixable. A retrim or eBay-sourced replacement would sort the steering wheel while the Capri Club International have announced that they will shortly have replacement dashboards for sale.
Otherwise the interior is completely original. The grey cloth seats show very little sign of wear with no marks and only slight discolouration of the headcloth if we’re being picky, and the front seats tilt and slide to allow access to the rear with no problem. The carpets are clean and unworn, the headlining is in good condition and the door cards are practically as-new. On the dashboard, the radio turns on and sends crackle to the speakers but doesn’t seem to tune in and the tape player is untested. The mysterious sticker on the rev counter is of unknown origin and, though it’s not been possible to identify the ‘UV55’ that it refers to, there is speculation that it relates to the concealed kill switch. The gauges themselves all operate as they should with the exception of the temperature gauge which hasn’t been fully diagnosed but may be some water ingress to the dial itself. The boot also shows little sign of use with an unmarked parcel shelf which unusually hasn’t been cut to add additional speakers and isn’t sagging under its own weight. Under the boot floor is the original spare and jack.
Capris are well known for corrosion issues and so this was first on the current owner’s checklist. Happily, this example wasn’t found wanting in any way. Finished in Nimbus grey, the bodywork presents beautifully and is complemented by fresh decals on the flanks and original dealer plates which match the sticker in the rear window. (Note that ‘Stormont Ford’ is thought to have been a London dealer and is no connection to the car’s current location, just a happy coincidence!) In the pictures and some lights it can be seen that the boot lid was not included in the respray but it’s not generally obvious. There are some small marks: a slight scrape on the rear of the passenger side of the sunroof panel, a tiny dent where the roof meets the tailgate (at the right hand side of the dealer sticker) and a small dent on the driver’s side sill. There’s also a small mark just above the black decal on the driver’s door which is hard to capture in the photographs, and a mark just above the tail pipe. The only suggestions of corrosion are some small paintwork bubbles on the front valance, a little under the driver’s side headlight and a tiny amount where the A pillar meets the sill on the passenger side. It should be stressed that these are all minor issues and included for completeness; in general, the exterior is in mint condition with unmarked wheels and tyres with good tread, bumpers and lights in great condition and Ford branded mud flaps at the rear. Another common issue is that the doors tend to drop on their hinges and there’s no sign of that here.
Underneath, the exhaust has had a small weld to the silencer but the chassis looks to have never seen a welder and shows no imminent sign of needing to either with no obvious signs of corrosion. The only point worth mentioning is that the floor stiffeners, which are often mistaken for jacking points, do seem to have been used to support the car at some point and although the driver’s side could be straightened, a fastidious new owner may look to replace the passenger side item.
The car starts first time every time and comes off the automatic choke as it should. It pulls well through all the gears, the change is smooth and the vendor reports that it’s the quietest Capri drivetrain that he has encountered. Similarly, there are no untoward noises from the suspension, and the car stops well. The engine bay is very original, showing the factory markings on the strut tops and although there is a little surface rust on the passenger side drip rail, it’s still very solid. The car has been freshly serviced including, crucially, a new timing belt.
The classifieds contain a variety of Ford Capris and it’s fair to say that many of them no longer resemble the car you always promised yourself. Original examples are now the exception rather than the norm and, as a result, good condition, unmolested Capris have been steadily climbing in value for some time. Indeed some of the late V6 models have now ascended into the classic car stratosphere and while their 4 cylinder brethren remain more affordable, they are heading in the same direction.
This example is in very original condition and with careful storage and maintenance should remain that way. But it’s not necessarily just a museum-piece; while it’s unlikely to be assuming daily driver status, it is very much ready to be enjoyed and would surely be the basis for many memorable post-lockdown trips and, indeed, participation in the very active Capri and classic Ford scene. The current owner may have got lucky with two Capris in a row but opportunities like this are increasingly hard to find so if you want to join the club then you’d best get bidding.
Interested parties please note, this vehicle is located in Northern Ireland.
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