Ford Capri 1969-1986
From hero to zero and back again – the Capri spent years as the butt of many ajoke, but Ford’s humble fastback has enjoyed a significant resurgence.
Few cars can demonstrate the lure of nostalgia quite like theFord Capri. Although the not quickest or most dynamic of coupes, the lovable fastback has joined several of its contemporary Blue Oval stablemates in being hot property among enthusiasts – with prices to match.
The Capri has had its time in the doldrums, but those fond memories often hark back to a time when they were just about everywhere. As Europe’s answer to the muscle-bound Mustang pony car, the Capri was instrumental in bringing sports car style to the masses by following a similar blueprint; borrow the underpinnings of an existing saloon model and reclothe them in a svelte, sporty new package with room for four and a keen price tag.
Using the slogan “The car you always promised yourself”, it gave potential customers the best possible chance of fulfilling that promise by offering a range of engines from 1.3 to 3-litres and an unprecedented amount of trim options to suit different pockets. It was an approach that worked brilliantly, as little more than a year after going on sale, a quarter of a million Capris had been built.
By 1973 there were 33 variations on the Capri within the standard range and when the heavily revised Mk2 version was launched in 1974, the addition of a hatchback made it even more suitable as a practical daily proposition. The Capri II also introduced new models such as the plush Ghia and sporty S. While the redesign seemed promising, sales had tailed off rapidly by 1977 but Ford nailed it with the Mk3 Capri which arrived in 1978 with engines ranging from 1.3 to 3 litres, though in 1981 the base model 1.3 was dropped and the Essex V6 was replaced by the cleaner, fuel-injected Cologne 2.8 V6. The Mk3 would prolong the Capri’s life for more than eight years, but by the time Ford pulled the plug in 1986, sales had been slowly declining. Indeed, from 1984 cars were only being made for the UK market, and the final 280 ‘Brooklands’ editions were left languishing on dealer forecourts well into 1987. An impressive 1.9m Capris had been made but it was increasingly seen as a relic of a bygone age. No one needed a Tickford Capri when they could buy a Sierra Cosworth, and much of the market had been eroded by the fast-emerging hot hatch.
ZERO TO HERO
Following its demise, the Capri became a cheap banger and increasingly something of a joke. This downfall was perfectly illustrated by its TV roles; the working-class hero reputation enhanced by the likes of Bodie and Doyle in The Professionals and Dennis Waterman as Terry McCann in Minder gave way to a lurid green Mk3 Ghia appearing as Del Boy’s new car in a 1991 episode of Only Fools and Horses. Suiting his faux yuppie delusions perfectly, it was famously christened the ‘Pratmobile’.
By 2010, the joke was evidently still funny. Discounting the Tickford, rare Mk1 RS3100 and 280, even the bigengined Capris were £3000-£4000 at best. But nostalgia can do funny things, and with more and more people remembering the Capri fondly rather than something to poke fun at, its fortunes have firmly reversed.
Beginning with the Mk3, £6000- £7000 was the norm at auction for a good, useable 2.8 car in 2016-2017, with nicer examples pushing towards £13,000-£14,000 (though a 2300-mile example did sell at Anglia Car Auctions for a whopping £37,275). However, it wasn’t until 2020 that the more powerful variants began cracking the £20,000 barrier with regularity, culminating in another big sale at ACA in January of this year. Despite having more than 10 times the mileage of the car sold in 2017, the 28,000-mile 1985 example illustrated the rise in values by selling for a remarkable £42,660. The entry level for 2.8 needing work has risen too, at around £7000 compared to £3000-£4000 five years ago.
By contrast, we’ve seen a bit of dip since 2016-2017 for the 280 run-out model. A 15,000-mile example sold at Silverstone Auctions in 2017 for an astonishing £55,125, but more recently prices have averaged £25,000. The Mk3 3.0 peak also came in 2016 at £53,750, but that was a pre-production car – prices for nice examples have been relatively consistent at around £20,000-£25,000 for the last five or so years, topped off by nice 3.0S that sold at Historics last April for £36,400. As with the 2.8, the entry level for the last two years has been set at around £8000 for one needing work as opposed to under £4000 beforehand.
So, are they all out of reach? Not completely. The smaller-engined variants have similarly risen in value but offer a significant saving. A figure of £17,000 has been the auction celling for a 2-litre car during the past five years, and just shy of £12,000 for a 1.6. Only the best examples command five figures though, making a smaller-engine car a more affordable route to ownership. The sole 1.3 we’ve seen in the last five years was a 1981 Cameo edition, which was snapped up for a mere £3286.
The Mk3 appears to be the best fit with affluent 40 or 50-somethings wanting to relive their younger years, but the Mk1 is next up in the desirability stakes. For a big-capacity Mk1, £20,000 has been a consistent figure for five years – a significant rise compared to 2010 – with the best examples touching £30,000. Again, smaller-engined cars are cheaper, though we did see a rare V4 2000 GT XLR sell for £27,195 at CCA in 2019. The highest we’ve seen for a 1600 car is £21,000 at Historics in 2017.
Find an early 1969 car and it will command a strong price regardless of engine size. A 1969 1600 sold for a mere £5000 at Historics in 2013, but almost £16,000 was needed for a similar car at Mathewsons earlier this year, and £7560 for a 1600 GT project at ACA in April. That leaves us with the Mk2. Only the 2.0S used in Minder has ever matched the top Mk3s, selling for £52,000 in 2016. Fewer cars made and fewer cars saved means we’ve not seen too many for sale in recent years. Prices are still significantly higher than a decade ago, but even 3-litre Ghia, S and rare JPS models have topped out at around £14,000, while £10,000 has generally been the ceiling for the 1.6 and 2-litre cars. The Mk2 might not quite be the variant you’ve always promised yourself, but it still offers the Capri experience at a more affordable price.
Offered with no reserve, this 1985 2.8 Injection sold for a whopping £42,660 at ACA in January.
This 1969 Capri 1600 sold for £15,695 at Mathewsons in March. The rarer Mk2 remains the most affordable generation.