After almost 40 years, a new Ford Capri has been revealed, but a little differently than expected. The name is now emblazoned on an electric SUV, which only quotes the former sports car in certain details. But the name Capri brings back memories of a golden age when Ford was one of the biggest car manufacturers in Europe.

The first Capri generation (1969-1973)

Long bonnet, chic bodywork, plus engines for every budget. In the shape of the first Capri, Ford achieved similar success in Europe in 1969, five years after the Mustang in the USA. With its beguiling shapes, the Ford Capri aroused desires and dreams, which could certainly be fulfilled after waking up. One million units of the first model generation rolled off the production line in just five years. In the end, there were to be almost twice as many.

Gallery: Ford Capri (1969-1989)

The taut shapes of the first Capri, its clear surfaces and contours were the work of American designer Philip T. Clark, creator of the equally iconic Ford Mustang. Incidentally, the Capri was originally to have been called the Colt. But as it turned out, a Far Eastern manufacturer already had this name in its model portfolio. We know which brand this is...

In January 1969, the new coupé made its international public debut at the Brussels Motor Show. In February 1969, the Capri finally entered the arena in which the success of a model is ultimately decided: the dealers' showrooms. It was a convincing home game for the Capri.

Ford Capri (1969-1986)
Ford Media Archive
Ford Capri (1969-1986)
Ford Media Archive

Capri 1300, Capri 1500, Capri 1700 GT, Capri 2000, Capri 2300 GT: a total of five model variants were available at market launch - from 1.3 to 1.7 litre displacement with V4 engines, with six-cylinder engines above. The associated power spectrum ranged from a rather defensive 50 to 108 PS, a thoroughly respectable figure at the time. This allowed the Capri 1300 to accelerate dreamily to 62 mph in 22.7 seconds or, as the 2300 GT, sportily in 10.8 seconds, with a maximum cruising speed of between 83 and 111 mph.

In autumn 1969, a more powerful version of the 2300 GT became the head of the model family. With sharper camshafts, twin-pipe exhaust and modifications to the ignition and carburettor, it served up a whopping 125 PS - a pretty hot stove that completed the prestigious sprint to 62 mph like a sports car in 9.8 seconds and had a maximum cruising speed of 118 mph.

By the time of the model change at the end of 1973, various modifications and facelift measures had kept the series fresh, including the engine programme. The V4 units were replaced by modern 1.3 and 1.6-litre in-line four-cylinder engines from the Ford Taunus range with 55 and 72 PS and 88 PS respectively under the long front bonnet. At the same time, the 140 PS 3.0-litre V6, which had already proven itself in the Granada and Consul GT, was now also available for the German Capri models.

Ford Capri 2600 RS
Ford

Ford Capri 2600 RS

For many enthusiasts, fans and motorsport fans, however, the icon within the Capri family was and remains the 2600 RS introduced in 1970, the brand's sportiest model to date. In Germany, sports drivers received a car with six cylinders, Kugelfischer fuel injection, lowered sports suspension and a lively 150 PS output.

With its matt black bonnet and striking twin headlights in motorsport configuration, it soon appeared on a par with the Porsche phalanx, which was spoilt for success. The homologation edition of 1,000 units - heavily upgraded with lightweight components such as magnesium rims, Plexiglas windows and plastic doors - laid the foundation for an extraordinary racing career.

The second Capri generation (1974-1977)

The fact that the Capri II also became a favourite with the public despite the hotly debated oil crisis in 1974 was probably also due to its even more pronounced rational arguments. With large rectangular headlights with integrated indicators, smooth surfaces and a straight-lined bumper, the successor model had a more objective and clearer appearance.

Ford Capri (1969-1986)
Ford Media Archive

Ford Capri II

Slender side windows pulled far back also stretched the body and made it appear more graceful, while attractive details such as the small raised section on the bonnet or a black radiator grille added sporty accents. At the same time, the coolness of the first Ford Capri generation, its design language and proportions remained untouched by the evolutionary push: long bonnet, low roof and belt lines, crisp, short rear end - Uwe Bahnsen, Ford's chief designer at the time, had done a great job.

The engine programme of the second Capri generation largely corresponded to that of the first. The 1.3-litre entry-level model was initially powered by the 55 PS OHV engine familiar from the Ford Escort, followed shortly afterwards by a normal petrol version with 54 PS. The next higher levels in the performance hierarchy were occupied by the 1.6-litre all-rounders with 68, 72 and 88 PS, while the 2600 GT was dropped. Sportier-minded customers now found two six-cylinder models: a 108 PS 2.3-litre version and the three-litre Essex engine with 138 PS.

Ford Capri (1969-1986)
Ford Media Archive

In May 1976, Ford fundamentally reorganised its model range. In addition to modifications to the equipment structure and interior details, a 2.0-litre V6 engine with 90 PS replaced the 88 PS 1600 version. A direct hit: its convincing combination of smooth running, temperament, moderate fuel consumption and reliability harmonised perfectly with the character of the popular sports car and the expectations of its buyers.

As a replacement for the previous GT variant, the Capri S was launched in May 1976. With its three-litre V6, it provoked six-cylinder coupés that were twice as expensive - it accelerated from 0 to 62 mph in 8.9 seconds and reached 123 mph.

The third Capri generation (1978-1986)

The third and final model generation of the Ford Capri was presented to the public in March 1978. It proudly sported a redesigned front end with twin halogen headlights and a front apron with integrated spoiler - measures to improve aerodynamic efficiency.

Ford Capri (1969-1986)
Ford Media Archive

Ford Capri III

The chassis had also made significant gains. The chassis was given a spring strut front axle, which was guided by wishbones and additionally stiffened by a stabiliser bar. The rear wheels were guided by a toe and camber-resistant rear axle with gas pressure shock absorbers. In conjunction with a transverse stabiliser, this resulted in a significant increase in driving safety, road holding and cornering stability. Servo-assisted disc brakes were also added to the front axle of all models.

The streamlined drive range now comprised two 1.6-litre in-line four-cylinder engines and three V6 engines with displacements of 2.0, 2.3 and 3.0 litres and an output range of 68 to 138 PS. For the 1979 model year, the Capri S version of the large six-cylinder engine, became Germany's most affordable offering in the then still elite club of 124 mph motorway speedsters. The Capri III also became famous in the TV series "The Professionals".

Ford Capri (1969-1986)
Ford Media Archive

A real sensation joined the ranks of sports cars in 1981. The Ford Capri 2.8 Injection was a creation of the "Special Vehicle Engineering" team - a forerunner of the Ford Performance Division. It replaced the three-litre version and succeeded the legendary 2600 RS. Its new V6 injection engine with a displacement of 2.8 litres and 160 PS enabled a demanding driving experience: a top speed of 130 mph and acceleration from standstill to 62 mph in just over eight seconds.

This meant that the Injection could also be seen in the car quartet - especially as the modified S suspension staged the power on offer in a sporty manner. Design and equipment details such as an expressive spoiler set, striking trim strips and a correspondingly accentuated interior emphasised the preferred movement profile of this Capri.

Ford Capri (1969-1986)
Ford Media Archive

Ford Capri Turbo

But that was not all. The Ford Capri Turbo, limited to 200 units, also followed in 1981. Under its bonnet beat the 2.8-litre heart of the Injection, boosted to 188 PS by a KKK turbocharger; a limited slip differential was available as an option. The Turbo also distinguished itself from its tamer brothers with muscular 235-millimetre tyres under aerodynamically shaped widened wings front and rear. It took barely eight seconds from a standing start to 62 mph, and the Capri Turbo reached speeds of up to 134 mph on the motorway.

The Capri's career in continental Europe came to an end in 1984, although it was still built in the UK until 1986. Ford produced a total of around 1.9 million Capri models, thus writing an extremely successful chapter in European automotive history.

Ford Capri (1969-1986)
Ford Media Archive

The Ford Capri in motorsport

The Capri's extraordinary motorsport career began in 1970 with the 2600 RS production model. In 1971, Ford entered two cars in the European Touring Car Championship and one in the German Circuit Championship. The results spoke for themselves: Dieter Glemser won the title on the international stage, while Jochen Mass took the overall victory in the German competition with the maximum result of eight victories in eight races.

The Ford Capri continued to dominate almost everywhere in 1972, adding the German Automobile Racing Championship with Hans-Joachim Stuck, the European Touring Car Championship with Jochen Mass, first and second place in its class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans classic and a triple victory in the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium to its list of successes. Even two-time rally world champion Walter Röhrl began his successful career in a Ford Capri.

Ford Capri (1969-1986)
Ford Media Archive

After a transitional period, 1978 saw the dawn of the era of the 400 PS Ford Capri Turbo in the German Racing Championship, which turned out to be a real pike in the carp pond in 1979 with four victories in the division up to two litres displacement and in 1980, as a 580 PS "Super Capri" in the large division over two litres displacement, even took aim at the dominant Porsche 935. With five victories, Klaus Ludwig became the most successful driver in the series, even though he missed out on the championship title due to disputes over the rules.

Ford Capri (1969-1986)
Ford Media Archive

1981 was also a Ford Capri motorsport year, but unfortunately also the last as the successor C100 was already warming up in Group C for sports prototypes. With ten victories in 13 races, Klaus Ludwig and his turbo Capri made a real march to the championship in the small division, while at the same time the Super Capri with Manfred Winkelhock took six victories in the large division. An exit with an exclamation mark!