Thursday January 3, 2019
As the 50th birthday of ‘The Car You Always Promised Yourself’ approaches, here are just five memorable Capri appearances on film and television -
5) Department S
It was only a supporting role, but the 1600 GT XLR Mk. I that guest-starred in The Soup of the Day marks one of the first Capri screen appearances. As you can see, it was the perfect match of car and utterly groovy TV show:
4) The Protectors
Another featured in an ITC show, this time an ultra-desirable 3000 GXL Mk. I “Facelift” in A Pocketful of Posies. The Protectors was not renowned for the quality of its acting, scripts or direction – but the cars and the music made up for that:
John Wayne’s only film to be shot in the UK and remembered for a) “The Duke” throwing Tony “Baldrick” Robinson into the Thames -
and b) the incredible car chase. At the wheel of the Jaguar S-Type was the great Peter Brayham, who really did jump Tower Bridge (much to the wrath of the London Metropolitan Police) while doubling for Wayne in a Capri 3.0 GT Mk. II was ace stunt driver Frank Henson. In his memoirs The Luck of Losing the Toss: My Stunt Career in the Movies and TV - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Luck-Losing-Toss-Including-Indiana/dp/1785453815 Mr. Henson recalls how:
“They allowed us to put the bridge back up as it had been for Peter’s “jump”. I carefully drove the car to the top edge and then reversed it down at speed, all the time looking ahead, which isn’t easy to do, believe me. Then we moved to the other side and I reversed up to the top edge before driving the Ford down at speed and crashing into a skip. They then filmed John Wayne kicking the door open. We used a model for the long shot of the Capri crossing the gap, and a seven-foot rostrum to film the brief shots of the Capri in the air.”
The editing process reversed some of the footage, which meant that the shot of the Capri backing down Tower Bridge now looked as though Dagenham’s finest coupe was speeding towards the opposite bank of the river. And the result was cinematic magic -
Terry McCann’s transport was originally meant to be an Escort Mk. II that was doctored by Ford to resemble their limited-edition Harrier. Euston Films eventually realised that it was far too elaborate a car for Arthur’s long-suffering bodyguard and so the Escort became one of Daley’s “Bargains of The Week” in the car lot while Terry was issued with a 1976 Ford Capri 2.0S Mk. II.
By the late 1990s, SLE 71 R (the number was also used on Cowley’s Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow in the first season of The Professionals) was on the verge of being scrapped, but the Capri eventually underwent extensive restoration. McCann used quite a few cars during the course of Minder, but it is the Mk. II of the opening credits that will always be associated with the show. As Arthur Daley once put it – ‘‘Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to flog and buy':
1) The Professionals
After CI5 dispensed with British Leyland as the official supplier for their motor pool, the show became automatically associated with Fords. In addition to the Escort RS2000 Mk. II, Doyle used a Strato Silver Capri 3.0S Mk. II (with the X Pack body kit) followed by a Solar Gold 3000S Mk. III. Meanwhile, Bodie was issued with an Arizona Gold Capri Ghia Mk. II Automatic and, most famously, a quartet of Strato Silver 3000S Mk. IIIs -
The Ford contract vehicles were garaged at Mark One Productions in Wembley for the run of each series, and sharp-eyed readers will also have noticed the beige Cortina Mk. IV 2.0GL registration VHK 536. This was used as a “courtesy car” to chauffeur the leading actors to and from the studio as well as appearing as a support vehicle on screen. The effect of The Professionals on Capri sales cannot be underestimated and, quite incredibly, all of the screen cars are known to survive.