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50 years of the Ford Capri

Today, 14th December 2018, is the Capri's birthday. 50 years ago Ford of Britain introduced its own version of the Mustang, America's runaway motoring success. Here's are five reasons why we think that's worth celebrating.

But first, a history lesson. The Ford Capri only exists because of the Mustang. In the late 1960s Ford believed it could recreate the American car's success, in the process effectively creating a new market niche in Europe - the affordable, practical sports car. Between 1969 and the car's demise in 1986, 1.9 million Capris were built in three different models, culminating in the limited run Capri 280 Brooklands, which you can hire right here.

The Capri was a very clever concept - a good-looking sports car built on humble Cortina underpinnings but available with a huge array of engines and trim options. This was Ford's masterstroke - creating a customisable, aspirational but practical car that really was 'the car you always promised yourself.'

It may never have been the last word in sophistication but the Capri succeeded because as an all-round proposition it was unbeatable compared to the many rivals it spawned. Each one may have done one or more things better than the Ford, but none were as rounded as the Capri.

1. It Looked Great

Ford didn't have to reinvent the wheel when it launched the Capri - the Mustang provided a perfect template. Whether you prefer the earliest or latest cars, the Capri just looks right - long bonnet, decent wheelbase, and sloping fastback. It is the definition of the coupe shape. Plus it has that (largely aesthetic) bonnet bulge.

2. Rear Wheel Drive

What it lacked in handling finesse the Capri more than made up for in sheer joie de vivre. Whether you bought a lowly 1.3 or a full fat 2.8, your Capri would quickly prove to be a tail-sliding, tyre-burning hoon-mobile. As ably and memorably displayed by Bodie & Doyle in The Professionals.

The Capri didn't need to be the sort of car you could pilot down a B-road on its doorhandles. It was just great fun.

3. 4 Seats

Two seaters may be cooler, but four seats are, when it comes to the Capri, much much better. Despite looking like a two seater, the Capri was quite capable of carrying a family or all your mates in comfort. This meant you could bin the family Cortina and quite reasonably and fairly propose a Capri instead.

Whether you had a family or just a bunch of exuberant mates, the Capri was the car everyone could enjoy. And that's the sort of thing memories are made of - and why the Capri was and remains one of the best-loved cars of its long era.

4. It's a Ford

If the car you'd always promised yourself had been a BMW or an Audi back in the 70s or 80s, the chances are that strapline wouldn't really have worked too well. But because it was a Ford, the Capri circumvented any notion of flashness or getting above your station. Because it was affordable it wasn't alienating. So everyone could enjoy it. It really was the car of the people. Albeit people, occasionally, a little too liberally drizzled with Old Spice.

5. It's many cars in one

Ford's genius was to make the Capri accessible to a huge range of people, without undermining the things that made the car so great. So you could have a stripped out 1.6 Laser or a full fat V6 Brooklands - both were desirable, even if one required ticking the 'badge delete' option in the showroom. And whether you owned a 1.3 or a V6, you were guaranteed a fun drive.


Great Escape Cars has the UK's only Ford Capri 280 Brooklands for hire in the UK. It's one of the last Capris built and is available to drive on our 60 minute Classic Tasters for £59 or hire it by the day from £279 for 24 hrs. To find out more call 01527 893733 or search this website.

Still not convinced? Here's our Capri on test with Classics Driven.

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