1971-1978 Ford Capri/Capri II

Capri Models

Among the external changes ordained for the 1973 Capri was a stouter front bumper.
Among the external changes ordained for the 1973 Capri was a stouter front bumper.

While Americans were falling in love with the 1971 Mercury Capri, in England, Capri fans were being tempted with a vehicle that would never reach the "colonies." Among the Ford Capri models available was the 3000-GT, featuring a 2,994-cubic-centimeter Kent V-6, which many consider the pinnacle of the car's first spin on life.

To the usual standard equipment, GTs added a close-ratio four-speed gearbox, two-speed windshield wipers, and full instrumentation including a tachometer. Those equipped with the new V-6 received a power-bulge hood.

If the Capri looked like it could travel at breakneck speed, the 3000-GT made it live up to those expectations. It went from 0-to-60 mph in just a tad more than nine seconds and hit a top speed of 113 mph. Its beefed-up suspension made it handle like a true sports car. To make Yanks really envious, a 3000-E edition was released in the fall of 1971; it upped the top speed to 122 mph and cut 0-to-60 times to well below the nine-second mark.

Still, there were some exciting things in store for U.S.-bound Capris. "Passion" and "Wow" described the reaction the release of the Capri 2600 in 1972. Introduced in February, it was the cat's meow for this baby brother to the Mercury Cougar. Its proven powerplant, derived from the German 23-liter V-6, was a 60-degree design that displaced 2,568 cubic centimeters, or about 155.5 cubic inches, and was capable of belting out 107 horsepower at 5,000 rpm.

This new package came standard with larger 185/70HR × 13 tires, a stiffer suspension, full instrumentation with a 140-mph speedometer, dual exhausts, and exterior dressings such as the obligatory badging, and blacked-out rear-end and lower rocker panels. As the size of the engine increased, so did the base price, to $2,821. With the addition of extras such as the Select-Shift automatic, AM/FM radio, and air conditioning, price tags for new Capri coupes were often topping $3,500 delivered.

For those who were satisfied with "peppy" versus "neck-snapping" performance, the Capri 2000 returned basically unchanged from the previous model year, with the exception that a price increase raised base cost to $2,598. The Capri 1600 came in at $121 less than the 2000. Still optional were the instrumentation package (though the 140-mph speedo was reserved exclusively for 2600s), sunroof, full vinyl top, and the Decor Group.

As the 1973 model year dawned, one model would be leaving the Capri lineup: the underpowered 1600. Remaining models now featured a newly styled blackout grille. The simulated side vents in the rear quarter panels were shortened and taillights were altered to include the backup lights. A new federally mandated impact-resistant front bumper system was employed to meet federal requirements. Several vibrant colors were also added to the Capri lineup, giving the car an even stronger European appearance.

Full instrumentation came standard on the V-6 models in 1973. Full instrumentation came standard on the V-6 models in 1973.
Full instrumentation came standard on the V-6 models in 1973.

Interior changes included a new two-spoke steering wheel and a new dashboard layout with simulated walnut trim. (Several gauges on the Capri 2000 were replaced by warning lights, however.) For the first time, a dash-mounted storage/glove compartment was included in all models.

Stricter emission controls led to the horsepower rating of the 2.0-liter engine being scaled back a bit to 85 horsepower -- a loss of one from the year before. (The V-6 was unchanged in that regard.)

Power brakes -- still front disc/rear drum -- were now standard on all Capris, and a much-requested rear stabilizer bar was added for better handling. Advertised as a "silky smooth" four-speed gearbox, the base transmission was improved by being fully synchronized.

Base prices took a steep increase for the year with the 2000 going up nearly 13 percent, or $385, to $2,983, while the base V-6 Capri 2600 shot up to $3,261. Still, about the toughest problem dealers faced was keeping cars in stock. Capri sales literature proudly noted that the Capri was "outselling every other European car in America, except one!" That one exception continued to the be the Volkswagen Beetle, but that was an entirely different market. For calendar-year 1973, the Capri was at the top of its game, posting more than 113,000 sales in the United States, a mark it would not achieve again.

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