50 years on: Ford's 10 greatest ever Capris

The iconic Ford Capri turns 50 this year, and so we look back at some of the most legendary incarnations of this popular coupé.

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The 10 Greatest Ford Capris

While supercars are all great and good, the real heroes are the aspirational cars that the likes of you or I can more easily afford. The sort of car that catches people’s eye in the car park, delivers on twisting country roads, but also attainable if you saved your pennies. America had the Ford Mustang but Europe got its own coupé for the people in the form of the Capri.

Over its 18-year production life the Ford Capri took many forms, but on its 50th anniversary we take a look at the top 10 Capris ever made.

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Ford Capri MK1 2000 GT

Aiming to recreate the success of the Mustang over in America, Ford designed the Capri for Europe. Named after the Italian island of Capri, it looked just as exotic on the average European driveway. That long bonnet and handsome coupé rear had plenty of appeal, as did the range of engines that allowed for cheaper entry-level models.

While engines such as the 1.3 and 1.6-liter units (1.3, 1.5 and 1.7-litre in Germany) served as the entry point into affordable Capri ownership, the car that everyone really wanted was the top of the range 2000GT. Using the Ford Essex V4 engine, this sportier car offered extra grunt, extra equipment, and the kudos that came with owning the top-dog Capri.

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Ford Capri MK1 RS2600

Ford soon realised that there was plenty of scope for more potent Capri models, and so in 1970 the high-performance RS2600 arrived. Inspired by motorsport, this car featured a close-ratio gearbox, ventilated disc brakes, alloy wheels, and lightweight bodywork. Under the bonnet was the mighty Cologne V6 engine complete with fuel injection.

Just 4000 of these left-hand-drive models were ever built.

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Ford Capri RS2600 Touring Cars

The Capri instantly became popular in motorsport, particularly in touring cars. These cars with modified V6 engine could be found competing in the European Touring Car Championship in the early 1970s.

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Ford Capri RS Cologne

Tuned by Cosworth, the Capri’s 3.1-liter engine was bored out to 3.5-liters that allowed for an output in excess of 400 hp. A comprehensive aerodynamic bodykit was fitted along with a pair of fire-breathing side-exit exhausts.

The RS Cologne dominated the European Touring Car Championship in 1974, beating BMW’s ‘Batmobile’.

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Ford Capri Mk2

The 1973 oil crisis meant that the Capri needed shift away from performance oriented motoring. Ford’s focus was on making the coupé more practical with a larger passenger space and hatchback opening. It’s arguably the model that kept the Capri going through a difficult period in the automotive world.

The Mk2 Capri was also the last model to be built in the UK with manufacturing moving exclusively to Germany thereafter.

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Mercury Capri

Ford decided to make the most of the Capri and offer it in America under its Mercury brand. The first generation car launched in 1970 and was a simple rebadging of the European Capri. However, the second generation car in 1979 was actually based on a Fox platform Mustang. The final Mercury Capri in 1991 was derived from the Mercury Tracer and aimed to challenge the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

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Ford Capri Mk3 2.8 Laser

The Mk3 Capri arrived in 1978 with a rakish new profile that returned the car to a more sporting playingfield. However, the dawn of the hot hatchback threatened the Ford Capri’s existence with these cheap and cheerful small cars delivering similar thrills.

Ford combated these invaders with new trim levels such as the iconic ‘Laser’ which offered more equipment and enhanced visuals. A redesigned instrument cluster, leather steering wheel, sporty alloy wheels, and colour-coded grille separated this from lesser models.

Product placement was another way for the blue oval to rekindle our love affair with the Capri. Appearing in several TV series of the era, who could resits a Capri such as the Laser that starred in The Professionals?

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Ford Zakspeed Capri

Arguably the most iconic Capri racing car of all time, this Group 5 and 6 monster could produce 520 - 600 hp (dependant upon tune) from a turbocharged Cosworth engine. Built by Zakspeed, this Kevlar and aluminium creation retained very little of the Mk3 Capri on which it is based.

Built to compete in the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft championship, it won the 1981 championship in the hands of Klaus Ludwig.

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Ford 280 Capri Brooklands

Named after its particular shade of green, these Capri Brooklands marked the end of an era. In addition to their unique paint, each car received featured a limited slip differential, full leather Recaro interior and 15 inch alloy wheels.

Capri sales had been declining since the 1980s thanks to competition from more practical and cheaper performance cars. Just 1038 of these sought after coupés were built.

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Tickford Ford Capri

David Brown of Aston Martin fame acquired the coach builder Tickford back in 1955 but the name remained dormant for decades. In 1981 Aston Martin created a subsidiary known as Aston Martin Tickford to take on special projects, one of which was a potent Capri.

Far more than a Ford wearing a bodykit, Tickford thoroughly reengineered the Capri spending over 200 man hours converting each of the 85 that were produced. Featuring sumptuous materials inside, and a 208 hp turbocharged V6 engine under the bonnet, it was an interesting combination of luxury and performance - something of a budget Aston Martin V8.

The very last Ford Capri to be registered was actually a Tickford.

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