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Ford Capri Mk 1 and Mk 1 Facelift

Ford Capri Mk1 Side

Production Run:


Production Date:

January 1969 - February 1974


1,298cc In line 4 ~ 4,949cc V8


Halewood (UK)

Niehl (Germany)

Saarlouis (Germany)

Cologne (Germany)

Genk (Belgium)

Port Elizabeth (South Africa)

Homebush (Australia)


20 Secs ~ 6.1 Secs

Max Speed:

85 Mph ~ 147 Mph

Keen to replicate the success of the Mustang in the US, Ford introduced the highly successful Mk 1 Capri in 1969 and it remained in production through until February 1974 when it was replaced by the Mk 2 Capri having sold 1,172,900 vehicles. Dubbed “The car you always promised yourself” the vehicle was available in a multitude of configurations and an extensive choice of engines ranging from four cylinder 1300cc units through to 5.0 V8’s appealing to all tastes.

Ford Capri MK1

Ford Capri MK1

Ford was riding high on the success of the Mustang that had sold over one million vehicles in the first 18 months that it was available. Keen to try their hand at building a similar vehicle Ford of Britain and Ford of Europe began collaboration working on a European version of the Pony car. The design brief for project “Colt” was simple, to design an attractive four seater, two door fastback coupe with dramatic styling, good handling and strong performance aimed at appealing to a younger audience than was usual for Ford. Further requisites were that the car should utilise as many components as possible from existing vehicles and that the vehicle should be reasonably priced.

Early designs were penned by German designer Uwe Bahnsen, the Colt was heavily influenced by the Mustang with a long low nose, fastback coupe style and dummy vents in front of the rear wheels. Ford paid special attention to the views of the public across Europe to ensure that the car appealed to as wide an audience as possible and in early 1966 full size mock ups of the vehicle were shown to prospective car buyers throughout Europe including London, Cologne and Brussels amongst others. The research was thorough, the audience were asked for their comments on the vehicle such as expected performance, styling and passenger accommodation without the manufacturer, price or release date being divulged to provide an unbiased opinion.

On 14th July in 1966 Ford’s Stan Gillen gave his approval to turn the prototype into a production reality, subsequently under the direction of development engineer Jim Moncrieff ten prototypes were built and extensively tested throughout Europe gathering vital information. Official approval was granted by Henry Ford II in June 1967 during a Ford of Europe meeting in Paris.

RS3100 Capri Rear Shot

RS3100 Capri Rear Shot

The main criticism levelled at the prototype was that rear occupants felt claustrophobic due in part to the small rear windows, addressing this issue designers introduced ‘D’ shaped rear windows - a styling feature that made the vehicle immediately identifiable and became a key styling component that would remain with the Capri until the final vehicle rolled off the production line.

Originally the car was due to be called the Colt but it transpired that Mitsubishi Motors owned the rights to the name and thus Ford opted to use the designation Capri, named after an Italian island. This was not the first time that Ford had used this name for a vehicle having used Capri before on the Consul Capri that was a two door coupe version of the Ford Classic, this model was produced between 1961 and 1964 but was not a resounding success with high build costs and poor sales amounting to only 19,421 vehicles.

The Capri debuted at the Brussels Motor show on 24th January 1969, Ford wanted to ensure that every single UK dealer would have at least one Capri on its forecourt for the start of sales and so production commenced at the Halewood facility in November 1968 in anticipation. Keen to maximise public awareness of the vehicle Ford even went to the lengths of leaving Capri’s parked at locations around the country such as major train stations.

The Capri debuted at the Brussels Motor show on 24th January 1969, Ford wanted to ensure that every single UK dealer would have at least one Capri on its forecourt for the start of sales and so production commenced at the Halewood facility in November 1968 in anticipation. Keen to maximise public awareness of the vehicle Ford even went to the lengths of leaving Capri’s parked at locations around the country such as major train stations.

Ford was keen to share components with other vehicles across its range to save costs, reduce complexity and to ensure maximum reliability. The suspension employed was a traditional affair with front MacPherson struts with an anti-roll bar and lower track control arm, the rear suspension configuration used semi elliptic springs with telescopic shock absorbers and twin radius rods locating the rear axle. All models were fitted with front discs brakes and rear drums, initially only the 1600GT and 2000 editions benefited from servo power assistance to the braking system as standard factory fit.

Power was transferred from the engine to the rear wheels through a all synchromesh four speed gearbox, as setup taken direct from the Cortina and Escorts in production at the time, keen to appeal to as wide a market as possible it was possible to specify a three speed automatic gearbox on the 1.6 and 2.0 litre derivatives.

The interior of the vehicle was plush and well equipped, at launch the cars were fitted with colour coded deep pile carpet and vinyl seats. GT models were equipped with comprehensive six pod dashboard instrumentation including speedometer, rev counter, water temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge and fuel gauge. GT models also benefited from a centre console fitted with an analogue clock, lesser models were fitted with a reduced range of dials and did not receive the centre console.

The Capri was made available with a bewildering array of engine choices, in fact the entire range was split into two with vehicles built for the UK available with four cylinder Kent Crossflow engines in 1300cc or 1600cc capacities or V4 2000cc Essex derived engines. Vehicles manufactured for European Markets were available with Tanus V4 engines in 1300cc, 1500cc or 1700cc capacities, a 2000cc V6 engine was also available at this time.

Keen to provide the Capri with additional horsepower and performance a 2300GT V6 Capri was launched at the Frankfurt Motorshow for European markets, this engine generated 125bhp and gave the vehicle a boost in top speed and 0-60mph sprints. Closely on it’s heels was the 3000GT V6 that was launched in Britain in September 1969 equipped with the Essex 3.0 V6 engine – at the time of introduction this was the fastest production model Ford ever produced by Ford Britain.

The 3000GT Capri could be easily distinguished from other variants by the addition of a power bulge on the bonnet and wider wheels. To handle the stresses of the additional power the vehicle had strengthened bodywork and suspension mounting, the suspension was reworked with revised shock absorbers and a new anti-roll bar and stiffer suspension. The engine received a three branch exhaust manifold with performance exhaust system and generated 128bhp @ 4,750rpm and 192 lb/ft @ 4,000 rpm, post October 1971 the engine developed 138bhp @ 4,750 rpm.

It was possible to order the Capri in a myriad of specifications with customers having the ability to order “Option Packs” when ordering their vehicle. The L Pack comprised bumper over-riders, dummy vents, side time, wheels trims and a locking fuel cap, the X pack provided an upgraded interior that included reclining front seats and contoured rear seats with a folder centre armrest. Furthermore dual horns, a day and night interior mirror, warning lamp, reversing lights and an additional interior light were also part of the X Pack. It was possible to order the X and L packs separately or together to form the XL model, these combinations were only available on the 1300 or 1600cc Kent engine equipped Capri’s. The L and X Packs could be applied to the GT models in 1300, 1600, 2000 or 3000cc capacities forming the GTL / GTX and GTXL models.

For owners of GT spec cars it was possible to order the R pack, this pack consisted of sculpture road wheels, fog lamps, body side mouldings, matt black radiator grill and special sports paint schemes. Interior upgrades included a leather trimmed steering wheel and map reading light.

In March 1970 the range topping 3000E was released at the Geneva Motorshow, the car was equipped with the majority of the X, L and R pack options but included a push button radio, heated rear windscreen, opening quarter windows, car seats with cloth inserts, carpeted boot compartment and lights in the engine bay and boot space. The car was easily identifiable by the Rostyle wheels and the addition of a Vinyl Roof, priced at £1,463 the car was described by Ford as the ultimate Capri, this was backed up by the vehicles top speed of around 122 Mph. Production of this edition ended in July 1972.

During the same month Ford launched the first RS Special Capri the RS2600, developed by Ford’s Advanced Vehicle operations in South Ockendon the cars were built for homologation purposes to allow the cars to compete in the European touring car championship. Fitted with the Cologne 2.6 litre V6 engine mated to a Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection system the car had access to 150 bhp @ 5,800 rpm and 165 lb/ft of torque at 3,500 rpm this was sufficient to provide a 0-60 of 8.0 seconds and gave a top speed of 124 Mph making this by far the fastest European Capri produced up until this moment.

Shortly after the introduction of the RS2600 another homologation special the Perana Capri V8 was launched in South Africa, this vehicle was based on a modified 3000 XL fitted with a Ford Windsor 5.0 V8 generating 281 bhp @ 5,800 rpm and 300 lb/ft @ 3,500 rpm giving the car a top speed of 147 mph and a 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds – comfortably one of the fastest cars available at the time.

1971 was a time of change and rationalisation in the Capri line-up, all Kent engine were revised featuring new valve timing, porting and combustion chambers coupled with new carburettor jetting providing an increase of between 6% and 12% across the entire range. Servo assistance became standard across the engine range and the 1300GT was discontinued in response to poor sales. Rationalisation of the product line-up left only the Base, L, XL, XLR, E as well as the GT models. In the autumn the limited edition (1,200 vehicles) Capri Special was launched that was based on the 2000GTXLR. All vehicles were finished in Vista Orange and were finished with a black vinyl roof, rear louvered window, GRP matt black boot mounted spoiler, heated rear windscreen and pushbutton radio.

Ford’s policy at the time was to continually update their product range to ensure that their vehicles remained at the forefront of the publics mind and the Capri was no exception, in September of 1972 the Mk 1 Facelift was introduced that was said to have 151 modifications. The vehicle used the same body shell but had minor styling revisions, now all vehicles were fitted with bonnets featuring a power bulge, the front grille was replaced and matched the headlight surrounds that were fitted to the larger, more powerful rectangular headlight arrangement (3000GXL excluded). The front indicator units were now housed in the front bumper and larger rear light cluster with integrated reversing lamps were added to the rear.

Internally the facelift models were fitted with wrap around front seats providing the occupants with much improved support, hollowing out the front seat backs gave additional leg room to rear occupants. Further revisions included a two spoke steering wheel, larger instrument dials, illuminated heater controls and the deletion of the front parcel shelf instead replaced with a fully lit lockable glove box.

The facelift models received a modified range of engines, dumped was the 1600 Kent Crossflow engine to be replaced by the 1600 Pinto overhead camshaft engine as fitted to the Mk 3 Cortina. In standard form the Pinto produced 72 bhp @ 5,500 rpm and 87 lb/ft of torque @ 2,700rpm in GT spec the engine delivered 88 bhp @ 5,700 rpm and 92 lb/ft @ 4,000 rpm.

Ford Capri 3000GXL MK1

Ford Capri 3000GXL MK1

The 3000 GXL topped the range at this point taking over from the 3000E that had been phased out earlier in the year. The vehicle was fitted with very smart four circular halogen headlights, twin fog-lights, heated rear window, opening quarter windows, Rostyle road wheels and a push button stereo system. The gearbox on the 3.0 models was upgraded the Zodiac derived four speed was replaced by a new German sourced gearbox that allowed for the use of a single rail gear change to be used providing a more precise gear change.

In response to BMW’s CSL in the European Touring car unseating the RS2600 Ford introduced the RS3100 developed by AVO in 1973. Fitted with an Essex V6 bored out to 3,091cc in road trim the engine developed 148 bhp @ 5,500 rpm and 187lb/ft @ 3,000 rpm. Visually identified by its duck tail mounted spoiler, matt black front quarter bumpers, four circular headlamps and four spoke RS alloy wheels and Spa Special decals the car powered from rest to sixty in 7.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 125 mph. Only 248 of these very special cars were manufactured and was released to the public priced at £2,500. Due to the imminent release of the Mk 2 Capri sales were slower than projected with many vehicles eventually being registered to Fords regional sales managers.

Production of the Mk1 Capri was discontinued in February 1974 after 1,172,900 vehicles had rolled off the production line, this makes the Mk1 the most successful Capri variant. The Mk2 Capri was introduced to address criticisms levelled at the first incarnation of the model, the Mk 2 adopted a rear hatchback and was equipped with a number of changes to make the car more suitable to everyday motoring for family motoring.