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50 YEARS OF THE FORD CAPRI

There are some advertisements that are cheesy. There are some that are ultra-cheesy. And there are some that resemble several shed-loads of mature cheddar. This PR launch film to promote the Ford Capri definitely falls into the last-mentioned category as our middle-aged “hero” finds himself apparently irresistible to the opposite gender -

‘Women – you can’t live with them…you can’t live without them’ philosophises the voice over maestro Patrick Allen before he presents a car that was ‘totally different from anything else on the European scene…what else can a man ask for?’.

It is hard – actually it is impossible – to imagine any new car being promoted in such a fashion today not least with the line ‘you can even have separate rear seats, should the fires of love be somewhat banked’.

But asides from dialogue that would have been rejected from the average Carry On film but the appeal of the Capri is instantly apparent. Here was a vehicle that looked downright exotic but was still within reach of the average Ford Cortina Mk. II owner.

Production commenced in Halewood on December 14th 1968, a month before the official launch. The first prototyped were built in 1966 and the distinctive rear windows were added in the following year. Ford originally intended to use the name “Colt” but this was owned by Mitsubishi and so it was decided to revive the “Capri” name which had last been used in the UK in 1964.

The earlier model was an undeniably handsome machine in its late-Teddy Boy fashion, but it was a 2+2 at best. By devising a coupe that was a four-seater, Ford had a vehicle that would also appeal to the business/fleet market.

Asides from the Capri’s looks, one of its most remarkable attributes was its elaborate line-up. There were three original choices of engine 1.3-litre, 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre – which could be specified either standard or “GT” forms. As for the trim levels, “L” gave a lock for the petrol cap and air extractor vents that were purely cosmetic and the “X” came with reversing lamps and reclining front seats.

And, were you in the fortunate position to own a GT, how could you resist the “X” custom pack with its leather steering wheel cover, auxiliary lights, those all-important Ro-Style wheels and, best of all, a matt black bonnet.

Of course, the performance of a 1300GT was not quite in the Mustang class but your neighbours weren’t to know that – especially if you had taken the trouble to remove the badges.  As Autocar pointed out in early 1969 when they tested the 1.6-litre version with the full XLR package ‘Really it is just a saloon with very sporty lines but it does things without apparent effort much better than lots of so-called sports cars’.

That was just what countless motorists demanded, and the launch of the 3-Litre V6 version in October of that year only enhanced the appeal of the Capri.

The success of the Capri in its first year of production was exacerbated by the fact that, the Arrow-series Sunbeam Rapier apart, there was no direct British competitor. Vauxhall did not offer a coupe version of the Viva HB, the MG 1300 Mk. II was highly desirable machine but not in the same market sector and, as we have seen, the Triumph Herald Hatchback never came to fruition.

There really was no alternative to ‘The Car You’ve Always Promised Yourself’ - as this advert for the 3-Litre surely demonstrates:

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