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1971-1978 Ford Capri/Capri II

Capri Styling
The Capri had a compact, flowing profile and shared styling cues with the Mustang.
The Capri had a compact, flowing profile and shared styling cues with the Mustang.

Promoted as "The Car You Always Promised Yourself," the 1971-1978 Ford Capri and Ford Capri II had something for everyone. The design, created under the guidance of German-born Uwe Bahnsen, was right on the mark for stylish and sporty. Several traits seen in some of Bahnsen's earlier work, including the 1960-64 German Ford Taunus 17M, were carried over to Capri's initial designs.

Engineering and styling details were a collaboration of Ford of Germany and English Ford teams. Stylewise, it featured the long nose that represented performance. The passenger compartment was roomy enough for four, yet created a profile that was compact and flowing, The "notchback" deck was kept short, and while this limited usable trunk space, it conveyed the sports-coupe look.

It was no mistake that these styling cues were also shared with the American Mustang. From the basic profile of the car to the sculpted bodyside features -- including simulated air vents in front of the rear wheel housings -- Capri was following a winning formula (though in just one body style instead of Mustang's three). Up front was a simple horizontal grille featuring two rectangular halogen headlights that smartly held the turn signals inside the fixtures. To the rear, a clean presentation of combined tail, brake, and signal lights were housed in large pods.

In the passenger compartment, comfortable seating for four was presented in a choice of nylon-weave fabrics or textured all-vinyl coverings. Like the Mustang, many items that were optional on other cars were standard on Capri, such as styled steel wheels and interior appointments including dual sun visors and arm rests for all passengers.

Existing drivetrains were selected for installation in the new Capri. British-built engines went into vehicles assembled at Halewood, while those assembled at the German facilities used power-plants from the Taunus and several light-duty commercial vehicles.

A British prototype of the Capri wears a rear-quarter window design different from the production version.
A British prototype of the Capri wears a rear-quarter window design different from the production version.

Taking another page from the Mustang sales strategy, several levels of engine size and horsepower were offered right from the start. The standard engine for customers of the British Capri was the "1300," an overhead-cam inline four-cylinder displacing 1,298 cubic centimeters. Rated at 52 horsepower, this engine was capable of going from a standing start to 100 kilometers per hour (about 62 mph) in about 20 seconds with a top speed reported at 137 kph (around 86 mph). Known as the "Kent" engine, it had originally been developed for use in several English Ford products. A larger "1600," which measured out at 1,599 cubic centimeters, was available; it was good for 64 horsepower and 0-100 kph times in the 16-second range.

For the shopper purchasing a German-built Capri, the engine selection was a little more varied, starting with a different 1300, one displacing 1,302 cubic centimeters and rated at 50 horsepower. With it, 0-100 took 24 seconds and a top speed of 133 kph was reported. However, a 1,488-cubic-centimeter V-4 could be ordered. With 60 horsepower, it brought the 0-100 sprint down to 18 seconds. Released in April 1969 was the sporty "1700-GT," a beefed-up 75-horsepower V-4 design that was capable of 0-100 kph times of 15 seconds and top speeds in the 148 kph range (about 90 mph).

Another parallel drawn between the Mustang and the Capri was the fact that people couldn't wait to push either into competitive events. For those looking for performance on a budget, two German-built V-6 engines were introduced before the 1969 summer season. The "2000-GT," with 1,998 cubic centimeters, was rated at 85 horsepower and could reach 100 kph in as little as 12 seconds, topping out at 157 kph. To go faster still, there was the 108-horsepower "2300-GT," which was pushed out to 2,298 cubic centimeters and could take a Capri to 100 in as little as 10 seconds.

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