1971-1978 Ford Capri/Capri II

Capri III

Europeans loved the Capri II, such as this one with Rally Cat trim, enough to build a third generation.
Europeans loved the Capri II, such as this one with Rally Cat trim, enough to build a third generation.

Even before the introduction of the Mercury Capri II, the Ford Capri was still very much alive in Europe. Tough economic times cut into sales by up to 50 percent, but European buyers did enjoy the Ford Capri II. It simply had more space, produced a better ride, and was improved all around. Exclusive to Europe were the V-6 3000-GT and 3000-Ghia. The Ghia enjoyed a vinyl roof, tinted glass, sunroof, and unique eight-spoke alloy road wheels.

As in America, plush fabrics and extra padding were added to interiors. In terms of performance, the more environmentally friendly 3000 engine with dual exhaust did not match the numbers turned in by its predecessor 3000-GXL, which was retired in 1975. However, these models did feature improved brakes that, when outfitted with new heavy-duty tire combinations, made the Capri Mark II 3000-GT the best-controlled example to date.

The third-generation Capri Mark III emerged from Germany in 1978. It was even more sleek, quite a bit faster, and much safer. On December 19, 1986, a cool Saturday afternoon, the last Capri rolled off the Cologne assembly line. Over a period of 17 years, more than 1.9 million had been built. It had been a good ride, posting sales records that persist to this day. On the track, it had many victories and won the hearts of a legion of dedicated collectors.

Though the Anglo-German sport coupe was gone from America, its name lived on. From 1979 to 1986, Mercury borrowed the Mustang platform for its version of the all-American ponycar and called it Capri. In 1991, the name reappeared as a Mazda Miata-inspired two-seat convertible from Ford of Australia. Its U.S. run lasted just a few years, but it too set records for import sales of an Australian-built car. Perhaps there'll be another Capri some day, but it just won't have the flair of the "Sexy European."

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