Wednesday February 27, 2019
Car marketing techniques of the past have a fascination of their own, from the “Mars Bar” Austin Maxis of 1969 to the “Getaway People” who favour National Benzole fuel in their Gordon-Keeble and, of course, the Esso Tiger. Dagenham promoted the Anglia 105E via beer mats that celebrated ‘The World’s Most Exiting Light Car’, and Yugo cars were allegedly ‘In a Class of Their Own’.
Meanwhile, some readers will remember how a dull Sunday afternoon could be lent a certain amount of excitement by the Lada “star prize” in Sale of The Century – aka ‘The Quiz of The Week!’.
And our main photo was provided by Monique Gilbert who is one of the original ‘12 Capri Girls. I am on the right at the end of the front row’. The Ford Capri Mk. I is a car that is often associated with the 1970s, but Monique’s story is a reminder that it hailed from the tail-end of “Swinging London”, and for their important new model Capri, Ford naturally wished to convey an image of Kings Road grooviness.
A Capri Girl would distribute publicity materials and host cocktail parties in a particular sales region, and Monique points out ‘as you can see we are wearing the berets, orange miniskirts and wigs in Mary Quant hairstyle fashion’.
The ladies were also ‘encouraged to wear sunglasses as Ford intended to make the initial launch in November in Malta’. The Capri Girls travelled to Southend to make the flight to the Mediterranean and while Monique is not sure about the make of plane ‘but it was a Hercules type Turbo Prop with two Capri cars on board. We stayed at the Corinthian Palace Hotel closely chaperoned by the Executive staff’.
Those fortunate dealers who were also flown out for the launch ‘had their first glimpse of the new cars when they were demonstrated at
a nearby race track’.
The duties of the Capri Girls did not just extend to providing vital assistance to the various events during that fortnight in Malta. ‘Back in Blighty, we were each assigned a car for three months for follow up visits to the various Ford dealers across the territory’. Monique and her fellow Capri Girls were ‘welcomed and hosted in style, and among other marketing activities we sailed up and down the Thames on a launch with a Capri on board’. One press report noted of the Girls ‘they can reel off performance figures and technical data’ – sometimes the late 1960s really do seem impossibly remote.
Inevitably, not all went smoothly, and Monique recalls ‘there were teething problems. The smell of petrol caused concern as apparently part of the back seats had been welded close to the tank. Another technical problem was the locking systems’.
However, Ms. Gilbert’s memories of her time as a Capri Girl are 100% positive – ‘It was a lovely job and at the conclusion and to say, 'thank you' Ford hosted a dinner for us with husbands and boyfriends at an Italian restaurant in Jermyn Street’. And by February 1969 there would have been few motorists who were unaware of ‘the Car You Always Promised Yourself’.
With Thanks To: Monique Gilbert.