Package Deal: 1974 Mercury Capri + Parts Car

The Mercury Capri took on many forms as the nameplate was recycled over the years, but this first iteration is definitely my favorite. Produced in Germany by Ford’s European arm, it offered spirited performance and decent looks for a lower-priced vehicle. Sold exclusively as a Mercury in the U.S., this example is certainly tatty but runs and drives and comes with a parts car, all for $2K or best offer. Find it here on craigslist in Bellingham, Washington, and be sure to go here if the ad disappears.

The seller says he has been “…messing with this car for a while,” which apparently didn’t include addressing the fairly rough body. That said, it has the 2.6L Cologne V6 from the yellow car under the hood, and the larger 2.8 mill it originally came with (new for the model year) is now sitting in the parts vehicle. No reason for the downsizing is offered, but it would seem likely the seller knew enough to recognize which was the healthier motor.

The interior of the blue car isn’t great, but it’s not beyond salvation. Seats will need recovering and that awful fake sheepskin should be disposed of immediately. The dash has cracks and the carpet appears misaligned with the pedal box – there’s a good chance it’s a cheap aftermarket replacement. Fortunately, it is a manual transmission car, but the seller acknowledges the shift linkage is junk and that it takes a skilled hand to find all the gears correctly.

The parts car may offer up some useful sheet metal for panel cuts, but not much else. There’s lots of good glass but the front bumper appears trashed; maybe the rear can be saved. It looks like at least some of the suspension has been pillaged, and the interior seems to be missing the front seats. Still, for $2K or best offer, there’s some decent value here especially if the blue car is as healthy of a driver as the seller leads us to believe. The question is whether you can find a better starting point for not much more cash.

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  1. Z1rider

    My older brother had a 73, V-6. It was a great handling car, when it was new. They didn’t hold up so well though. Seatback broke, rear vent window mechanism detached from the glass, it was held on by the same epoxy as the rear view mirrors I suspect.

    As for the handling, weren’t these based on the Cortina platform?

    • Rustylink

      My brother had a ‘73 – vent windows breaking – dropping the pane of glass was common. It was a competent handler with enough hp to make it a fun car. It wasn’t going to win any redlight battles, but it got decent mpg back in the early days of the when gas prices were something to consider. The McPherson strut seized and hammered itself up thru the top of the fender. My brother swapped a 100cc Indian dirt bike to a welder to braze and weld the repair into place.

    • Concinnity

      They’re based on the early (Mk1 & 2 for both) Cortina and British Escort RWD platform which were also the basis for the Lotus Cortinas. Like these two
      But not the Mk 3,4 or 5 Cortinas with their double wishbone front and coilsprung rear suspension

      • Ching-A-Trailer

        Rear Axles and brakes are completely different between any Capri and any Cortina. I wish it weren’t so but it is. I needed rear wheel bearings, found the Capri parts plentiful, the Cortina (and it’s UK brother the Granada) not so much. I wish I could get new rear brake self adjuster parts (used on the Mark III Cortina and it’s contemporary Granada) but have never found a source. Were they Capri parts, instant availability – thank you Team Blitz and others!

      • Concinnity

        The rear axles are live, on leaf springs so easy to change, but the steering, front bulkhead, and front struts are all interchangeable. There is very little interchangeability with the Mk3 onwards Cortinas. The Mk3 onwards are very different with a coil sprung link located rear axle. They weren’t designed using any common parts. The 1.3 and 1.6 , (at least), Capris use a Mk1 and 2 Cortina rear axle assembly complete with brakes and wheelbearings.

  2. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice find Jeff! My first car was a ’73 in this color with the metal bumpers… and side pipes! I didn’t know anything about cars then. I loved it but I didn’t realize how cool it was until later. Thanks for the memories!

  3. AF

    I guess someone in that area needed wheels and tires real bad.Where did those aftermarket wheels come from? $2k or anywhere near that seems like way too much. I bet this thing sounds like a tractor when you fire it up..if it runs.

  4. CrazyGeorge Member

    Yellow Capri has front seats… Ugly button tufted front seats ! Yuck.. At lest they look complete.

  5. Mike

    Had a good laugh at the yellow’s interior. Looks like it’s straight out of a aftermarket custom van or an old RV.

    • CrazyGeorge Member

      Oh look here ! Another bumper !

  6. canadainmarkseh Member

    I remember working on these back when I got into mechanics I always thought these were fairly good cars for their day but rusters. I also remember that they were solid lifter engines that would need valve adjustments. This often didn’t happen and usually they came into the shop sounding quite clattery. I’d then have to school the owner on the importance of keeping them adjusted. It is true that these capri’s were lively and they handled well too. If I owned this I’d plan on a rebuild for the original engine while digging into the necessary metal work which means that that interior would have to come out. As for the seats there are plenty of good used seats out of newer cars that are much better than fixing these crappers and at a fraction of the cost. As for the parts car even though it’s a bit banged up it definitely has better sheet metal which begs the question which car should be the parts car and which should be the restoration. I think it’s easier to bang out the dents than it is to cut and weld in new metal. I think a personal inspection would determine which body gets restored. One thought is you could be restoring the yellow body while driving the blue one around.

  7. Howard A Member

    I had a ’73 exactly like this. Wasn’t a bad car, but the ’76 Capri ll was the one to have. ( apparently, they skipped 1975) It had everything this car didn’t have, 5 speed, hatchback, just a nicer car, but it was too late. The early ones, like this, left a bad taste. I liked mine, but I’d never buy another.

    • TMD

      Agree, I had a red ’77 5spd hatch, great car, drove it from Detroit to L.A. in the 80’s…rear end went out in Iowa, and had to send a truck one hour to a Des Moine junkyard for a replacement (while I slept in the gas station lobby), when installed, it ended up being from and early model and was 4 inches narrower (which really looked studid!). Really like the dual exhaust on the v6 Capri II.

    • Rob John

      My first car was a 76 Capri II. I learned a lot about cars with it. It was POS brown and had the 2.3. When I was first in the Army I was stationed in Germany. Imagine my surprise when I saw so many of these as Ford Capris. Love the lines on the Capri IIs.

  8. sir mike

    Put the 73 chrome bumpers on the 74…..and yes the 2.6 is much better than the 2.8…..might be a good deal for someone wanting a Capri.

  9. Rick Rothermel

    I had three of the gen 1 Capris, had Pipeline money for the ’74 so it received a European RS style paint job, silver blue to the body shoulders, Corvette Targa blue on the hood, a-pillars and window sills, front air dam, Cannon headers, Western Minilite-style rims, Hella lights, coolest import I ever owned.
    Snatch the bridge-girder bumpers off, car raises two inches.
    If I had a place to put them…

  10. Jubjub

    Love these Capris and they’re on my short list. But these two are kinda crusty. A much, much nicer ‘73 V6, 4 speed sold on Capri-List last year for $3000. Sick that I missed it.

    Yeah, that diamond pleat interior is “High Whore” as a friend used to say.

  11. PRA4SNW Member

    Another one of those cars that seemed plentiful back in the day that you never see now.

  12. Superdessucke

    My neighbor down the block had a new ’74 yellow one back in the day. Black interior, manual tranny. I loved it. Sweetest smelling interior ever. To look at this crusty wreck now is just painful. Ugh!

  13. Daymo

    These are becoming rare even here in the UK. Not just the early ones but the last ones too. Even basket cases are rising in value very fast. Grab one whilst you can!

  14. sluggo

    These have been on CL for a while, Last time BF featured a Capri I looked and saw the same cars, But nostalgia is making these popular again. As mentioned before here in Oregon we had ROKSTOK, a supplier of parts,accy and performance stuff for them.

    • angliagt

      I dealt with Rick (Richard O. Kiser – ROK) back in the day.
      Talked to some people who were not happy with their dealings
      with him.
      Of course,there was also FORPARTS for Fiestas,& they
      were way worse to deal with.

  15. gyates

    My very first car was a ’72 Capri. Mine had the 4 cylinder motor, automatic transmission, no a/c, black interior and black vinyl roof. Not too pleasant to drive in Tennessee summers.. My dad bought it from a co-worker of his for next to nothing. It kind-of ran, but towards the end to keep it running I had to shift in neutral and keep my foot on the gas or otherwise it would die and not re-start. The rear quarters had about as much bondo as they did metal. And it burned oil about as fast as gasoline. It lasted about 6 months or so and we let it go for a 1977 Datsun 200sx. Ah, good times..

  16. DerekF

    Recently, I acquired a straight, nearly rust-free 1973 Capri after owning two Mk IIs in the eighties, and I’m hoping to get it running next year ( and NOT the 2.0L / auto currently residing in it ) I spy a few bits I’d love to buy….

  17. Fred W

    Had a V6 one, 73 or so. As I recall, the rear wheel arches on these started rusting before they were assembled. Fun to drive though.

  18. Wrong Way Member

    These cars came out when I was a youngster! I always loved them maybe I should look for one for myself! I would want one in much better shape than these are tho!

  19. Ben T. Spanner

    My first new car was a 1972 V6 4 speed in green over tan interior. When I first started looking, there were none. I found one 2 hours away in black with red. As I was pondering the logistics, truckloads of new Capris arrived in Columus, Ohio. I bought from the closest dealer and got a small discount.
    Inflation was very high and the prices of everthing went up quickly. After about 10 months, someone just had to have it, and it was sold. I think I made $200 or so.

  20. TMD

    I Kind of remember a Smoky and the Bandit treatment to the Capri II that was black with gold striping…maybe a sunroof…?

  21. Paul

    I had a 74 v6, 75 4 cyl and a 77 v6. All handled well. It seemed like you could comfortably drive the cars over 100 mph. The 74 was my favourite, in Sahara beige.

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