Ford Capri is First Produced
Ford Capri was a name used by the Ford Motor Company for three different automobile models.
The Ford Consul Capri coupé was produced by Ford of Britain between 1961 and 1964. The Ford Capri coupé was produced by Ford Europe from 1969 to 1986. The Ford Capri convertible was produced by the Ford Motor Company of Australia from 1989 to 1994.
The Capri name was also used by Ford's Lincoln-Mercury Division on six different models which did not bear the Ford name. The Lincoln Cosmopolitan Capri from 1950 to 1951; the Lincoln Capri from 1952 to 1959; the Mercury Comet Capri in 1966-1967; and three different Mercury Capris from 1970 to 1977, 1979 to 1986, and 1991 to 1994.
The first use of the name Capri outside the USA was by Ford of Britain for a two door coupé version of the Ford Classic saloon. To really understand why this model was produced and in such limited numbers, one has to look at the history of the Ford Motor Company (UK) at that time. During the 1950s all bodies for Ford of Britain's passenger vehicles were built by outside body builders. Dearborn made it known in November 1960 that it wanted to purchase the rest of the share capital in Ford of Britain and this brought about some policy changes that had great influence on the styling of the coming models. Not the least the fact that they put their own people into Dagenham.
The Ford Classic was a result of 4 years of intensive development. Approval for the project was given in autumn 1956. The styling of the car was the last project undertaken by Colin Neale before he left Dagenham for Dearborn. The initial design requirements was for the Ford Classic to be a full range model to take Ford into the new decade. Ford even produced a full size estate (or Station Wagon) mock-up but it never reached production.
The Capri Project was code named "Sunbird" and took design elements from the Ford Thunderbird and the Ford Galaxie Sunliner. It was instigated by Sir Horace Denne, Ford's Sales Director. He wanted a "Co-respondent's" car to add a little glamour to the product line. It was designed by Charles Thompson who worked under Neale and had sweeping lines, a large boot space and a pillarless coupé roof.
On its September announcement the Consul Capri was for export only but went on sale to the domestic British market in January 1962. The bodies were sub-assembled by Pressed Steel Fisher, with only final assembly taking place at Dagenham. It was intended as part of the Ford Classic range of cars and the body was well engineered but was complex and expensive to produce. With new production methods, time demands from Dearborn and a need to match opposition manufacturers in price, the Ford Classic and Consul Capri were almost doomed from the start. The Ford Classic ran from 61 - 63, and was replaced by the more successful Cortina-derived Ford Corsair.
The Consul Capri was made to Ford Classic De-Luxe spec only, it offered many then unusual features, such as four headlights, variable speed wipers, 9.5 in (241 mm) front disc brakes, dimming dashboard lights, and a cigar lighter. The four speed transmission was available with either a column or floor change. It was proclaimed as "The First Personal car from Ford of Great Britain" (Ford of Great Britain, sales literature, December 1961)
Initially fitted with a 1340 cc 3 main bearing engine (model 109E), the early cars were considered underpowered and suffered from premature crankshaft failure. Engine capacity was increased in August 1962 to 1498 cc (model 116E) and this engine was a vast improvement. The first 200 Capris were left-hand-drive cars for export including Europe and North America. In Germany at the 1961 Frankfurt Auto Show, Ford sold 88 Capris.
In February 1963 a GT version (also 116E) was announced. The new GT engine, developed by Cosworth, featured a raised compression ratio to 9:1, a modified head with larger exhaust valves, an aluminium inlet manifold, a four branch exhaust manifold and, most noticeably, a twin-choke Weber carburettor - this being the first use of this make on a British production car. The same engine was announced for use in the Ford Cortina in April 1963.
Overall the car was very expensive to produce and in the latter part of its production was running alongside the very popular Ford Cortina. Sales were disappointing and the Consul Capri was removed from sale after just two and a half years with 19,421 sold, of which 2002 were GT models. Just 1007 cars were sold in 1964, the last year of production, 412 of them being GTs. The Consul Capri was discontinued in July 1964. The Consul Capri (335) is one of the rarest cars from Ford of Great Britain.
A Capri was tested by the British The Motor magazine in 1962 and had a top speed of 79.0 mph (127.1 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 22.6 seconds. A fuel consumption of 36.7 miles per imperial gallon (7.70 L/100 km; 30.6 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £915 including taxes of £288.
The first 200 Capris were hand made for export to Germany in time for the 1960 car show expo.
They were designed by Fords Charles Thompson and an ex Canadian jazz musician named Roy Brown. Roy was involved with the design of many great American Fords in the 40s and 50s untill he got to the Ford Edsel, named after Henry Fords son, the Ford Edsel was the first expensive Ford disaster. After that Roy turned up in a small outback Ford factory called "Dagenham" where he was involved in the design of the Anglia, Consul etc. Then he did it again, another expensive Ford disaster, the Consul Capri.
At the Dagenham factory the Capri was known as the "SunBird" a cross between the Yank-Tank Thunderbird and Sunliner models. The term Yank-Tank came fron early American, Dutch imigrants named Jan, collectively called Yan-kees, the tank bit was the due to their size. The term Dagenham dustbin was due to the fast rusting cheap recycled metal used on early British Fords.The early Capris were underpowered and also tended to snap the crankshaft, not nice in traffic!
Dubbed by Ford as Britains first personal car ? It had cutting edge disc-brakes, multi-speed wipers, four headlights, a dash dimmer and even a cigar lighter, all clever stuff but no help when you've got a broken crankshaft.
Both the Ford Edsel and Capri are now very sought after classic cars.
Source: Contributor to Motorbase
Ford (UK) launched its first ever family sized coupe in 1961, the Ford Capri 109E. The Capri used the same floor pan and mechanical items as the Ford Classic 109E saloon which appeared at the same time. Both new models used a new overhead valve 1340cc four cylinder engine and had a four speed gearbox with either a floor or column change. The styling of the Capri was very transatlantic and certainly not to everyone's taste. The Capri had a unique "5 Star" grille and twin headlamps, plus a long swage line that ran down each side of the side of the car and swept into the large "Gull Wing" rear fins. From the rear the Capri looked like a scaled down Chevrolet Impala and was certainly distinctive. Sadly the Capri was misunderstood by the public and needed more power. In 1962 a 1500 version arrived but this was also short lived and so the first Capri project faded away in 1963...
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Class Mid-size sports car (1969-86)