Monday 2 August 2010
The first Ford Capri to bear that precise name was introduced in January 1969 at the Brussels Motor Show, with sales starting the following month. The intention was to reproduce in Europe the success Ford had had with the North American Ford Mustang; to produce a European pony car. It was mechanically based on the Cortina and built in Europe at the Dagenham and Halewood plants in the United Kingdom, the Genk plant in Belgium, and the Saarlouis and Cologne plants in Germany. The car was named Colt during development stage, but Ford were unable to use the name, as it was trademarked by Mitsubishi.
Although a fastback coupé, Ford wanted the Capri Mk I to be affordable for a broad spectrum of potential buyers. To help achieve that, it was available with a variety of engines. The British and German factories produced different line-ups. The continental model used the Ford Taunus V4 engine in 1.3, 1.5 and 1.7 L engine displacement, while the British versions were powered by the Ford Kent straight-4 in 1.3 and 1.6 L form. The Ford Essex V4 engine 2.0 L (British built) & Cologne V6 2.0 L (German built) served as initial range-toppers. At the end of the year, new sports versions were added: the 2300 GT in Germany, using a double-barrel carburettor with 125 PS (92 kW), and in September 1969 the 3000 GT in the UK, with the Essex V6, capable of 138 hp (103 kW).
Under the new body, the running gear would have been familiar to anyone used to working on the underside of a 1966 Cortina. Rear suspension employed a live axle supported on leaf springs with short radius rods. MacPherson struts featured at the front in combination with rack and pinion steering which employed a steering column that would collapse in response to a collision.
The initial reception of the car was broadly favourable. In the June 1970 edition of the Monthly Driver's Gazette, tester Archie Vicar wrote of the gearchange that it was "...in Ford fashion easy to operate but not very jolly". In the same review Vicar summed up the car as follows: "Perhaps with a bit of work it can be given road-holding and performance less like an American car and more like a European one".
The range continued be broadened, with another 3.0 variant, the Capri 3000E introduced from the British plant in March 1970, offering "more luxurious interior trim".
- engine: V4
- capacity: 1305 cc
- horsepower: 57 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 134 km/h