The Evolution of the Capri


If you count the finned and chromed Consul GT version of the Capri, our favourite Ford has had four evolutions across a life-span of some 25 years. That’s if you don’t count, of course, the various stateside Fords that have borne the noble moniker. And though there have been subtle but certain changes in design, there’s a unity too. That unity is the marketing space that the Capri has occupied. More than anything else the Capri has represented that achievable, practical desirability to which the working man is able to aspire. We dig out some gems of the visual culture of the Capri.

Consul Capri GT 1961-64

All chrome, rake, fin and Americana, the Consul Capri was a glamorous if short-lived precursor to the full-blooded Capris. Doomed to be eclipsed by the similar, toned down Mk1 versions of Ford’s mass market star the Cortina, it was slow, heavy and a little overstyled for Dagenham. Its rakishness, however, hinted at the future.

MK1 Capri 1969-73

When the first Capri was launched in 1969 at the Brussels Motor Show it was received with enthusiasm. Not wanting to exclude the mass European public, Ford covered the bases with a massive range of specs and engines, from lowly 1.3 everyman to vinyl and chrome clad GXL versions for the middle manager type. It was the GT version, however that would come closest to the aesthetic of its beefy American cousin. The ads reflected that urbane panache. You could almost smell the Brut 33.

MK2 Capri 1973-78

By the mid-seventies the Capri had won a hardy and loyal following. Capri 2 consolidated this success and added a hatchback, a stubbier bonnet and other innovations such as reclining seats. An even broader range of spec was introduced too – as well as the cult hit the JPS special, which referred to the successful Lotus JPS F1 team. And what’s more, they harnessed the sales acumen of Jackie Stewart (and his wife) to hawk the new Capri. “Beautiful“.

MK3 Capri 1978-87

Although the MK 3 was more of an extensive facelift rather than a fresh model, the eighties Capri was given a new lease of life in 1981 with the racy 2.8i. This was Thatcher’s Capri, even more overtly aspirational and evocative, with its contemporary signage and design details, of the decade when greed was good. Bodie helped keep the aging lotharia in front of the testosterone wracked portion of the UK public meanwhile, and various special editions helped work the Capri’s profile into the latter reaches of the decade. Though it never quite occupied the perennial place it should have done in UK car culture, there’s never been a racy, everyman GT to grace our roads. We think time just might be right to address this gaping omission.