The Mk1 Capri was practical, quick and engaging, and the first in a long line of sporty Fords that were to offer affordable thrills for the masses
The Capri’s Weber-carburetted V4 was sourced from the Ford Corsair, as was its close-ratio four-speed manual transmission. Quiet and smooth to 3500rpm, the engine became harsh above that, but the short-throw gearbox was enjoyably light and precise.
The 2000 GT easily outperformed the 83bhp 1600 GT four-pot model through the gears, and also returned better economy above 50mph. Servoed brakes (front discs, rear drums) worked well initially but suffered fade with repeated use.
Despite a live rear axle, the rear-drive Capri handled tidily, with gentle understeer in normal driving, throttle-adjustable cornering and lift-off oversteer that only became a handful in extremis. The rack and pinion steering lacked feel and self-centring, though, hampering high-speed stability.
Road noise was low, but there was some thumping over joints and an annoying exhaust resonance at 2800rpm.
The otherwise comfy front seats lacked lateral support and myriad switchgear was confusing, while the rear cabin was rather tight to accommodate adults. But overall we found the Capri fast, safe, comfortable and affordable.
FOR Pace, sweet gearbox, neat handling, value
AGAINST Unrefined engine, steering, exhaust resonance
Price £1096 Engine V4, 1996cc, petrol Power 93bhp at 6000rpm Torque 104lb ft at 3600rpm 0-60mph 10.6sec 0-100mph 40.9sec Standing quarter mile 18.2sec at 78mph Top speed 106mph Economy 23mpg
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
The Capri was a sales hit, and one million had been made by late 1973. During 1973-74, 248 RS3100 race-homologating specials were built using a 3.1-litre Essex V6.
The Mk2 and Mk3 were less successful than the Mk1, but the Capri’s late-1980s swansong was marked with the ‘Tickford Turbo’ run of 85 2.8-litre Cologne V6 specials co-developed by Aston Martin.