The Mercury Capri is a nameplate used and marketed by the Lincoln-Mercury division of Ford Motor Company on three generations of vehicles from 1970 to 1994. All three Ford divisions have utilized the Capri nameplate in the automotive industry; it was taken from the namesake Italian island. The Sport compacts were sold without any Ford divisional branding between 1970 and 1978, while Ford of Europe provided the Capri as a captive import. The Capri was a pony car in the Mercury model series between 1979 and 1986. The Mercury Capri was a roadster that Ford of Australia imported as a captive from 1991 to 1994.
History of the Mercury Capri
First Generation Mercury Capri (1970–1978)
The first-generation Capris were captive imports made in Cologne, Germany, by Ford of Europe. The Ford Capri was advertised by the Lincoln-Mercury Division beginning in April 1970. It was introduced in Europe in 1968 and was constructed by Ford of Britain using locally produced parts from the Cortina MkII and Escort, with proposals dating back to 1964 when the progress of a European variant of the Mustang began. Despite being advertised as a Mercury vehicle, the Capri lacked divisional branding. The Capri, which cost $2,300 at the time of launch ($17,562 in 2022), was positioned as a cheap sporty coupe, smaller than the Mercury Cougar and Montego. It lacked upmarket trim levels, unlike its European market equivalents, which had the GT, RS, L, XL, and XLR. Mercury installed the chrome bumper's steel pipe in the front bumper, and the Capri got a "facelift" for the 1973 model year that included a new grille, bigger tail lights, and reworked rear quarter "grills." The dashboard, steering wheel, and seat trims all had revisions inside. A fresh, new wiring harness was applied. In 1974, Capris built to North American specifications were equipped with sizable, 5-mph bumpers that were legally required. Plastic in the color of the body coats the bumpers. A 2.8L Cologne V6 with an updated engine block and cylinder head castings was introduced to replace the previous 2.6L model. The 2.3L Lima 4-cylinder and the 2.8L Cologne V6 were the two available engines for the 1975 Capri, which had been spruced up as a hatchback and was offered in North America as the Capri II in early 1976. The Capri II was no longer manufactured in Europe after the 1977 model year. 1,978 models of the remaining 1977 Capris were marketed. From 1970 to 1978, more than 500,000 Capris made in Germany were sold in North America. The "Fox" chassis Capri began to take the place of the European Capri in the North American market in 1979. Until 1986, the European Capri was still produced for the European market.
Second Generation Mercury Capri (1979–1986)
For the first time since the Mercury Cougar was enlarged in 1974 to complement the Ford Thunderbird, the Ford Mustang was rebadged as the Mercury Capri and marketed through Lincoln/Mercury dealerships. The Ford Fox platform, which supported the Mustang from 1979 to 1993 with a redesign process in 1994, served as the foundation for the Capri's construction. It was the only generation of the Mercury Capri to use a V8 engine. During its original run, the Fox-based Mercury Capri remained largely unaltered. It kept its unique flared fenders, squared-off front fascia, and grille. The only significant change was the 1983 installation of a racing-inspired hatch with a complex rear window (commonly known as the "bubble back"), a redesigned rear bumper, and new taillights. A front air dam was added to the high-performance Capri RS in 1984 and remained in place until 1986. Year after year, the drivetrain and interior options were nearly identical to the Mustang ones. There are variations, but they are typically slight.
- 1981 –83 Black Magic
- 1981 –82 White Lightning aka White Magic
- 1983 Crimson Cat
- 1984 Charcoal Turbo RS
- 1984 –86 ASC McLaren Coupes and Convertibles
- 1985 Mercury Motorsport Capri - Grand Prix IV Pace Car
Third Generation Mercury Capri (1991–1994)
Ironically, Mercury used several Mazda 323 mechanics in Ford Australia's 1989 production of the Ford Capri, a Mazda Miata rival. As a result, it has front-wheel drive compared to the rear-wheel drive of the Mazda Miata. This vehicle was marketed as the Mercury Capri in North America, beginning with the 1991 model year. With few modifications, Mercury sold the automobile until the 1994 model year. A small aesthetic modification for 1994 vehicles comprised new front and rear bumpers and taillights. Additionally, the XR2 included standard independent rear suspension and stronger front and rear sway bars. The Australian Capri was a dependable car despite mechanical problems with the American model. In Australia, several of them are still being used as "everyday drives," with roof leaks being the sole known defects. The vehicle was known to suffer electrical issues in the United States and drivetrain issues resulting from usage in extremely cold or hot temperatures. To compete with Mazda's Miata, Ford attempted to import the Australian convertible, which required the inclusion of a driver's airbag for the US market. The Capri had four seats that users could use, a lockable top storage compartment, and a lockable back seat that you could fold down to allow access to the trunk whenever the soft top was up. A hard top that could be removed was a standard option. For all model years, the base and XR2 versions were both available. The Mazda 1.6L DOHC 4-cylinder in the base model produced 100 horsepower. Mercury included a 1.6L engine with turbochargers and 132 horsepower in the XR2. A 5-speed manual gearbox was standard on both the base model and the XR2, whereas a 4-speed automatic was only available on the base model.
For the 1994 model year, Mercury retailed the Mercury Capri with a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $13,265, which is around $26,518 for the 2022 USD conversion.
Features of the Mercury Capri
By mid-1980s standards, the Capri had a decent amount of equipment. Halogen headlamps, the recognizable bubble-back rear hatch featuring a rear-window defroster, and tinted glass were among the exterior features. Mechanical features included power steering, power brakes, and P195/75R14 tires on 14-inch wheels with turbine wheel covers (which are still readily available, courtesy to Hankook and Kumho). Inside, standard features included intermittent wipers, power windows, an AM/FM stereo, and a tilt steering wheel.
- Flip-up Open-Air Roof
- Air Conditioning
- Power Door Lock Group
- Speed Control
- AM/FM Stereo Radio With Cassette
Lincoln-Mercury, a division of Ford Motor Company, released the Mercury Capri from 1970 to 1994.