Calling the Ford Capri a “German” car is probably stretching it a bit - however, most Germans still think of it as that - never mind the fact that it really was mostly an international effort. The car made its international public debut in January 1969 at the Brussels Motor Show. Ford had great success in North America with the Ford Mustang, and Capri was Ford’s answer to recreate that success in Europe. Originally Ford planned to name the car Colt, but as Mitsubishi had taken that name, the new car was named Ford Capri.
Just who exactly designed the car remained a mystery until 2010. The credit belongs to Phil Clark, an Iowa native who graduated from the Pasadena Art Center College Of Design in 1958, and went to work for Ford in 1962. Clark is known as the designer of the Mustang’s galloping-horse logo, among other designs, but was only positively linked to the Capri after his daughter, Holly Clark, began piecing together his surviving art folios. Holly was 2 years old in 1968 when her father died of kidney failure at the age of 32.
In Germany, Ford Capri was offered with five engine choices at the launch; Capri 1300, Capri 1500, Capri 1700 GT, Capri 2000 and Capri 2300 GT. And we know we have the top of the line 2300 version here because of the “power bulge” on the engine hood. Only the six-cylinder 2300GT version had that at the time this casting was made. In the UK, you have a 3000GT too, but it took a few years for that one to reach Germany. Underneath the sporty body was the tried and tested suspension of the Taunus / Cortina models - with a live axle at the back.
The Capri was produced in Germany, the UK, Belgium, Australia and South Africa. Here in Australia, as well as North America and South Africa, the Capris were sold with the British 2.0l V4 “Kent” engine - which never produced enough power. In order to fix that, Basil Green Motors in South Africa produced the “Perana” Capri - which replaced the “Kent” with a Ford V8. Problem solved. V8 conversions were also quite popular here and in New Zealand, but the “Perana” was the only one officially sanctioned by Ford.
All North American versions featured the “power dome” hood and four round 5 3⁄4" US-spec headlights. They carried no “Ford” badging, as the Capri was sold by only Lincoln-Mercury dealers (with the Mercury division handling sales) and promoted to US drivers as “the sexy European”.
And of course, there were the racing versions - RS2600 (Germany) and RS3100 (UK). But we will leave those for another day.
Over 1.2 Million Mark I Capris were made between 1969 and 1973 globally - with 1973 being the best ever year for the Capri. It was a huge success for Ford worldwide, which just goes to show how one could successfully transfer the Mustang’s recipe across borders.
The model you see here is a 1/43 scale model by German maker Märklin that dates back to the time of the original car (and it shows). That is the same Märklin that is world famous for its HO scale model trains. They had a small but interesting line-up of 1/43 diecast cars in the late 60s and early 70s. This one here is a re-issue from the 1990s. I picked it up in the Märklin Museum and Shop in the German town of Göppingen, where I was visiting a friend at the time. Both the city and the Märklin Museum are well worth a visit!