Sold by Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury division, the Mercury Capri marquee was used on three different vehicles produced under three generations. During its peak, total sales for Capri were the highest ever for any import car, with the exception of the Volkswagen Beetle. Today, Mercury Capris are highly sought after by collectors for restoration because of its classic design, reliable performance, and affordable parts.
1970-1977: First generation
The first Capri models sold in the US were made in Germany and equipped with the British 1600-cc Kent crossflow. In 1973, the model was redesigned. North American units were upgraded with a 5-mph front bumper at the front and back, which was a federal requirement. This bumper was then covered with a plastic shell that matched the body’s color. The interior was also restyled, which was upgraded with a redesigned steering wheel, dashboard, and seat trims. In 1975, a hatchback version was introduced under the Capri II marquee. Reception for the first-gen Capri was positive. Many automotive publications hailed the Capri as a car that’s solidly built, stylish, and fun to drive.
1979-1986: Second generation
The second-gen Capri was basically a Ford Mustang version and was manufactured using the Ford Fox platform. The model was available in various trim packages: Capri (base), Capri Turbo RS, Capri RS, and Capri Giha. Few upgrades were done over the years, which included the addition of a new bumper and taillights and the introduction of a hatchback equipped with a “bubble back” window. Several special second-gen editions were also released:
Black Magic (1981-1983) – This version featured gold stripes, a gold cat’s head on each side of the valance, and gold metric TRX wheels.
White Magic (1981-1982) – This model was basically the Black Magic edition made available in white.
Crimson Cat (1983) – This version had red and gold stripes and customized seats in black with red inserts.
Charcoal Turbo RS (1984) – Units under this label were equipped with a Garret 60 turbocharger, 5.0 HO sway bars, a hood scoop, and a two-toned exterior.
McLaren Coupe and Convertible (1984-1986) – This was a Capri converted into a convertible and equipped with an upgraded suspension, exterior striping, ground effects, honey comb wheels, a radar detector, and covers for the headlights and taillights.
Mercury Motorsport Capri (1985) – To celebrate the 4th anniversary of the Detroit Grand Prix, 30 Grand Prix IV units were produced as pace cars.
1991-1994: Third generation
The third-gen Capri was actually an imported Australian convertible produced by Ford Australia. Based on the mechanics behind the Mazda 323, the third-gen Capri was designed with four seats, top storage, and folding back seat. Buyers were given two options: base and XR2. The base unit was equipped with a Mazda 1.6L, four-cylinder DOHC, while the XRT was built with a turbocharged 1.6L engine. Both the base and XR2 versions were also equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. For the base model, customers had the option to go for a four-speed automatic variant.