Baby Mustang: 1973 Mercury Capri

1973-mercury-capri

The Mustang may have given Ford more of a sporting image when it was first released, but as time went on, it grew into more of a Clydesdale than a Pony. Luckily, Ford of Europe devised a diet plan. They built a new small rear wheel drive car that could be had with an inline-four or eventually a V6. It was badged as a Mercury Capri here in the States, but it may have been a better successor to the original pony car than the one that wore the name. This particular example is ready to go and it looks like a fun driver to us! Find the auction here on eBay where bidding is currently right under $800.

capri-ad
Image Credit: Hemmings

The Capri was meant to create the same stir in Europe that the Mustang had on our shores. It was even going to be named Colt in honor of its big brother. Sales were good, but it never gained the same notoriety. People love them now, so finding a good one can be a challenge.

capri-seats

We are not sure why the seller included the phrase “barn find” in the title. There is no explanation in the description, but they do mention the work they have done to presumably get it back on the road. The car does look very original with the exception of the reupholstered seats.

capri-v6

This is a V6/manual equipped car so it should be fun to drive. That V6 was good for about 138 horsepower, which seems anemic when compared to some of its V8 endowed brothers. With a curb weight of around 2,000 pounds, we wouldn’t complain though. Obviously Europeans valued handling over outright power. After the thrill of the first few stoplight drags wears off, I bet many of us would side with them.

mercury-capri

This could make one heck of a driver, but the seller is very optimistic about its value. Perhaps the reserve is set at a reasonable amount, but the $11,000 BIN makes that doubtful. It will be interesting to see what little brother is actually worth…

Comments

  1. jim s

    these were fun cars when they first imported them however there were a lot of other nice cars in the same price range. i liked the 4cyl. better as there were a lot of hot rod parts for it. should be fun to watch the bidding.

  2. Duane S

    I drove my ’73 V-6 Capri, bought new, for about 12 years until it couldn’t endure any more Michigan winters and it rusted away. I still miss it at times. It was entertaining to drive. I don’t think many survived, at least i can’t remember the last time I’ve seen one

  3. Rustowner

    That’s one of the nicest ones I’ve seen in a while. Never have seen one in that color combo either. I do like the faded grey paint! These were fun to drive and cheap when I was growing up. We bought and beat on more than a few of them. Rust seemed to be an issue (in the snowy states and maybe elsewhere) and the metal was thin. $11k BIN seems a bit optimistic, but I have no idea where the market is on these at the moment.

  4. David G

    Remember riding around in my buddy’s in college, 78-80. He hated that car and re-arranged the hood letters to read “CRAPI”, which it really was at the time. Sortof nicely sentimental now though.

  5. Horse Radish

    And I thought these would never be on an upswing.
    That is what I was waiting for before I would invest into my 2 Capris.
    These were made by Ford Germany, in Cologne.
    As said, rust did most of them in. They were also popular (and made ?) in the U.K.
    I have a red 2.8 and a Ghia 3.0 (I think ?) 1976/7.
    Never thought I’d see the day, but they are getting rare !

  6. jean lecointe

    These Capri Ford have been imported in FRANCE with the small 4 cyl engine. A funny story about the name Capri came from a french singer who made a success with a song titled:
    “Capri, c’est fini” which meant ” Capri it’s over”. The Capri Ford, in France, in the early 70ies had the reputation to be driven by ladies around the “Bois de Boulogne” west of Paris, looking for customers for sex.
    Later, the power was increased and Capris got another and better reputation in rallyies.
    Any frenchman will remember the song anytime the name Capri is pronounced.
    There are lots of german Fords more interesting than a Capri. The 12MTS, The 20MTS are, in my opinion more interesting.
    But, anyway, any 40 or 50 years old car is worth looking at, and the feeling of discovering such a time capsule is something that we, Barn Finders, are looking for.

  7. Jim S

    I was working as a line tech at a Lincoln/Mercury dealer at the time and I remember the Capri having 20 recalls.

  8. Mark Wemple

    Had this exact car (well the one in the ad ) in 83. They had 2 major flaws. One was a weak cooling system and the other was a rubber knuckle that would fail and require a replacement of the entire steering column. I loved it though. These cars did well in the mid 7 in endurance racing.

  9. Brett Wakeman

    There’s a ex-USA car here in Australia… a long way from home I guess for sale at the moment on carsales.com.au – http://www.carsales.com.au/private/details/Ford-Capri-1973/SSE-AD-2364685/?Cr=2

  10. Catfish Phil

    My best friend had a Capri II – what was the difference between a Capri and Capri II? I remember him scaring the hell out of me with the handling and decent power. The car was totaled in an accident and my friend walked away. He graduated to a Trans Am 6.6 with t-tops and Hurst 4 speed.

    • Don Andreina

      Capri II had more squared off lines and a hatchback IIRC.

  11. paul

    Been awhile since I’ve seen one of these, my brother had a white one. The car was quite good.

  12. Robert J

    I have a Cologne 2600 V6 from a Capri in my Jensen Healey. It is a really enjoyable engine with an excellent power band. It will spin the tires on the JH and loves the 65-95 mph range the most. You can get performance parts for them from Burton Power Sports and a supplier in Britain whose name escapes me at the moment.

    • Don Andreina

      Interesting combination

  13. Barzini

    A great looking car then and now. I am surprised these cars are not more popular.

  14. erikj

    I remember my friend in highschool got a capri that was a black cat model. nice car,black with gold trim. I think a v-6-stick. he came to visit one night and we cruised all over seattle. we wound up in some school baseball field late at nite,did brodies in the grass until a niebor chased us out which turned into a road chase with that guy. that capri was pretty fast and we almost got away until we turned onto a main road to get the hell out and there was a cop coming at us. we pulled over but the cop thought we were going to run and slamed into the side of us. totaled the car and my friend went to jail. That’s the only black cat capri I ever saw so it might have been a rare one,but we did it in. Cool car thought.

    • z1rider

      That sounds more like a Capri II than the first generation.

  15. Dolphin Dolphin

    A girl friend had a Capri like this many years ago, but with the 4-cylinder engine. She preferred that I drive it because she felt that I could use the standard transmission better than she could, and we had some good times in that car. It burned oil something fierce but it handled pretty well and was more stable on the road than the Datsun 510 that I was driving—and that has since become something of a cult car among Japanese car guys.

    I just wish my girlfriend’s car had the 2.6 liter V6, and Robert J’s comment about the V6 just confirms it.

  16. Don Andreina

    We had a lot of these in oz, there’s a brown 1600 around the corner. There was, for a long time, one with a 302 for sale in one of the mags. The South African Perana was an official 302 version, but I think the local was a ‘replica’. I think the reason this particular example was hard to sell is because it was bright pink!

    As to the ‘barn find’ mention, even the Daily Mail has in the last few days featured a story on ‘barn find’ classics and written that the asking prices are getting stupid. This vendor is probably trying to ride that wave. Good thing you got that URL early, Jesse and Josh.

  17. psl3vy

    My first car was a 74. I miss it.

  18. z1rider

    Mechanically speaking, weren’t these derived from the Cortina?

  19. Chris A.

    We had four of these in the family, all sticks. The very first Capri’s came through with with a 1600 English Ford engine and was nice handling, but slow. Ford then put in the Pinto 2000 engine and in turned the car into a perky little runner. Mom’s was first with the 2000 and a sunroof. Safer than a Pinto as the gas tank was behind the back seat and slightly ahead of the rear axle. They rusted easily, but it was hard to keep the front end aligned and tires balanced. Wasn’t bothersome until you were on an expressway. A road trip through Randelman NC resulted in a stop at a speed shop where day had them align and balance tires, wheels and brake rotors. We lost 2 to crashes, Mom side swiped into a guard rail and mine hit hard in a rear end collision. Both totals. Mom got a new V6 Capri and I bought an Opel 1900 Manta Luxus as it had a huge trunk. The V6 was a cruiser, but the four was one of the nicest handling cars I’ve owned. Much better car than a Pinto or Vega and about the same price. Not an $11K car.

  20. Chris A.

    Looking at an old picture of my Dad’s V6 Capri I noticed the color was almost identical to the subject car. Grey was not a factory color. I suspect that it’s original color was silver and like my Dad’s faded to gray in a very short time. The only Capri paint colors that seemed to last were their red and bronze. The silver and metallic green faded quickly if left in the sunlight. The Capri IIs were a later, larger upscale version and came only with the V6 engine which had been punched out to 2800 cc’s. I thought of the Capri II like a mini Thunderbird.

  21. Plasticman

    Ho ho ho! These Capris handled like a sack of shit. I guess they could be made better nowadays. The V6 hasnt many horses but a fair dollop of torque so they shift off the line OK. The GT makes a fotune over here, Id prefera Manta or something with a twin cam in it.

    • z1rider

      Sounds like you have an axe to grind. I drove many of it’s contemporary’s and found the Capri (as you state Cortina derived) to handle very well. The Cortina was the car Lotus chose as the basis for their modifications. On other forums some state that the rear suspension mods of the LoCorts didn’t improve them all that much. The basic platform was considered quite good on it’s own.

      • Don Andreina

        If you’re talking about putting IRS on a Mk 1 LoCort, Chapman did just that on an early prototype. Gave it to Jimmy Clark for appraisal and he wouldn’t give it back. Became his daily driver. The idea was rejected due to cost, but without a solid rear I doubt we would have had those superb photographs of on-track LoCorts dancing on three wheels around a bend.

      • z1rider

        Don,

        Nope, I was thinking of the change to coil springs and locating links for the live axle. I had heard the story of that one IRS prototype going to Mr. Clark and his refusal to return it though.

  22. Plasticman

    Yes, they are basically a reskinned Tina with the same engines. The V6 had a single Weber. Later 4 port Cortinas had a bastard Ford carb which gave a lot of trouble, that and auto chokes which never worked. All easily fixed nowadays.

  23. GINGER THOMPSON

    i did my apprentiship on these cars when they were first built in england. the first two mods brought out on them were. 1. reroute fuel line by the off side suspension leg as the tyre was rubbing on it. 2. change fuel tank as the reason they all smelt of petrol inside the car, was that the diagram for mounting the rear seat belts ment that in fitting them the drilled holes in the rear bulkhead ended up going through the fuel tank aswell. if you want them to handle just pump front tyres up to 42lb per square inch and fit uprated anti roll bar.

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