302 T-5 Swap Candidate: 1982 Mercury Capri

I’ll admit it: though I am a diehard GM and Mopar fan, I do have a soft spot for some Ford automobiles, including the Fox-body Mercury Capri. There is something about the Capri’s styling that looks more mature and aggressive to me than a similar Mustang from that era. This particular car is a 1982 model, and though a bit weathered, looks to be solid overall. Find it here on craigslist in Carbondale, Pennsylvania with an asking price of $3,500.

Introduced in 1971 as a rebadged Ford Capri, the Mercury Capri was reinvented as a pony car beginning in 1979. Essentially a Mustang with different styling, the Capri featured a squared-off front fascia, horizontal bar grille, and distinctive flared fenders, along with minor trim changes. Whereas the Mustang came in both notchback and hatchback coupes (and, beginning in 1983, a convertible), the Capri came solely in hatchback form. This particular car is a base model and appears to be solid overall. The original wheels were swapped for later Ford Mustang wheels, and are wrapped in cheapo aftermarket tires. A set of TRX wheels or ten-holed wheels with Cougar-logo caps would look much better in my opinion. The bumpers appear to have fading, and the two-tone brown and tan is kind of a turn off–a two-tone paint scheme like this would be more visually-appealing.

This particular Capri is a factory V8 car; unfortunately, it’s not the 5.0 (302 cubic inch) V8 you were probably hoping for. Instead, it’s a 255 two-barrel V8. Rated at 115 horsepower, the 255 was essentially a de-bored 302 and has little to no performance guts at all. Factor in the three-speed automatic (without overdrive, to top it off), and you have a car that is better suited for getting from Point A to Point B, rather than winning races or making long, smoky burnouts. I would ditch both the engine and transmission and swap in a 5.0 and a T5 manual transmission; there will be a little modifying that will need to be done for the manual transmission swap, but you can source 5.0 V8s just about anywhere, and with the 5.0’s performance potential, the sky’s the limit. I personally would build up the 5.0 with a carburetor (similar to a 1982 Mustang GT 5.0’s engine), source a 1991 T5 transmission (built by World Class), swap in an 8.8 inch rear end, and go Fox-body Mustang hunting.

Arguably the best part of the car is the interior, which overall appears to be in good shape. There is a crack in the dash, so a new dash pad would need to be sourced. I would also replace the driver’s seat headrest material, as there is some discoloration. Otherwise, the seats, console and door panels appear to be in good condition. With the right mechanical and visual changes, this would be a great car to cruise in, though I would try and negotiate a lowering in the price. Considering that this is one of only 20,981 base model cars, and factoring in the rare 255 V8, this is a rare car. What would you do with this Mercury Capri?

Fast Finds


  1. Rich Tague

    5.0 , 5.0 , The way to go!!!!!

  2. J Paul Member

    Amazing to remember that there was a time where a V8 made 115hp. Yikes.

    I like Capris (the blistered fenders really give them a good stance), but damn is this an unfortunate color combination.

  3. grant

    My second car was a bright orange ’80 Capri, bought it from my sister in Reno and drove it home to Portland. Nice memories.

  4. Mark in WNC

    Before I would do all the upgrades that you suggest I would just buy a different car.

    • 63Comet

      The Capri has a nice look. I’d do the upgrades, but not at that price. To be $3500 into that car before any upgrades is more than I’d do. For a different car, I’d pay the $3500 but not that one. Now, sell it at a more reasonable price, and I’d be the kind of guy who’d consider such a swap.

  5. SubGothius

    I’ve always wondered why Ford didn’t just transfer these handsome boxflared fenders to the Mustang when they retired the Capri and gave the Mustang a major facelift for ’87.


    That’s an ugly one.

  7. MRE2ME

    The interior appears to be blue on a beige & brown car? Maybe the original exterior color was something nicer than this.

  8. LAB3

    If someone where to make an engine swap to put more power under the hood, why not go with a 351?

  9. Superdessucke

    I’d install period correct wire wheel covers and white wall tires, bolt in the drivetrain from a 1993 Mustang Cobra, and proceed to grievously injure myself. But it would be fun doing it.

  10. Sam

    Two tone brown and cream is ok…just adds to the “sleeper” factor if you build or swap in more hp.

    There were alot of two tone paint schemes in late 70s and early 80s. We had a neighbor with a navy/light blue Monte Carlo, dad brought home a tan/cream LTD ll for a test drive…a number of two tone 5th Aves, New Yorkers and Buick’s.

    …..good taste had progressed from metallic paint, white vinyl tops and white vinyl interiors of the early/mid 70s….

    I’m still partial to the heavily padded cushion velour and leather interiors.

  11. KevinR

    I had an ’80 3.3L Capri in high school (it was new; to give a hint to my age), so a V8 of any description would be an upgrade… maybe. For a look at what can be done with this palette, search for Csaba Csere’s Capri online.

    I’d love to get this car and start on rebuilding a modern interpretation of my high school car. My wife does not share those feelings.

  12. John b

    Cheap-o tires….fits well with the cheap-o writing

  13. Clinton

    The hell with a 93 cobra drivetrain. Swap in an 03 04 cobra drivetrain leave it as is and go spank the crap out of a lot of stuff. Second, uh hell-to-the-no on 10 hole wheels period unless it’s an SSP Mustang. Ugliest wheels for a fox body ever.
    On top of this dreaming I see rust on the quarter panel so if this car has been in PA this whole time it probably looks like hell under the hatch etc which is why it isn’t photographed.

  14. Pete

    So my wife talked me into buying a brand stankin new 1981 Mercury Capri from her uncle at the dealership. $6400 family discount. Bahahahaha. It was Black with Silver with a 4 banger it would do 55 MPH up hill, down hill or off a cliff. I bet that V-8 version would do 70 MPH maybe more with premium in the tank. :-) I can tell you that you would be hard pressed to find another one with a factory V-8. They didn’t even have one on the lot when I bought mine way back in the day. This car would be worth keeping all the original drive train after yanking it out and dropping in a 5.0 out of say an SVT. That thing would fly if you did that. You could gather a lot of pink slips that way. Start a used car lot after a few races. LOL

  15. Terry

    I had a Capri with a turbo. Black on Black with some wild stripes. Drove it just 1 summer. The 255 cu in V8 is a good motor. I had one in my 80 T-Bird. It pulled my car hauler just fine.

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