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In 1979, a new Capri was introduced along side it's sister car, the Ford Mustang The Capri name was first a sub-model on a Lincoln in the 50's and later on the European Ford Console in the early 60's. In 1968, the Capri came into its own as a 1969 model in England and parts of Europe. It was originally hailed the European Mustang due to it's extreme populality. The Capri did the same for Ford in Europe, as the Mustang did in the US. In 1970, Ford was in need of enhancing the Mercury line with a small, sporty car. At the time the Bobcat, Cougar, and Comet were all that Mercury could offer. The decision was made to bring over the Capri to fill this niche, just like the Merkur XR4Ti nee Ford Seirra was in the '80s. Interestingly enough, no Mercury badges were ever added to these cars during the time that they were imported to the US ('71-'78).

That Old Black Magic

While sales of the early Capri were still going strong, the declining dollar made the car too expensive to import. After the Mustang redesign was finalized, it was slightly altered to to give the car a more sporty, but elegant look. It was only offered in a hatchback bodystyle, unlike the Mustang which had a coupe and later a convertible While similarly equipped, the Capri didn't sell as well as hoped. In '81, Mercury sought to stimulate some sales by making a standout model to attract customers into the show rooms. By taking a page out of the Capri's past, the Black Magic Capri was born.

The Black Magic Capri was an eye-catcher. The car was black with gold pinstriping along the sides, grill, taillights, and hood. The interior was all black with some gold trim and gold inserts on the seats. The standard TRX wheels (shod with 190HR55/390 Michelins)were gold and cat's headlogos similar in design to the Cougar emblem were placed on the front fenders (Mercury used "at the sign of the cat" and a live cougar in its advertising in the '70s & 80's for whatever reason). The black and gold theme of the car was remenistant to the earlier Black Cat option on the earlier Capri. The Black Magic option was available from 1981 to mid-1983.

Capitolizing on a good idea, Mercury also came out with two other varients of this theme. A white version of the car was made for '81-'82 and a 'Crimson Cat' using a dark red color in '83. Both had the gold pinstiping and matching interiors. The white car is sometimes called 'White Lightning' due to an magazine ad that showed a white Capri. The dealers requested Ford to build this car AFTER the ad came out due to customer requests. These special cars could be equipped with a standard 2.3l four all the way to the potent 5.0l engine. Both automatic and manual transmissons along with other options such as Traction-Lok rear end, A/C, tilt wheel, cruise control, and sunroof. T-tops were also availible which Ford farmed out to Cars & Concepts. The Capri's are amoung the most sought after due to their limited production.

Any Color You Want...

Ford had previously sold turbocharged 2.3l engines in the Mustang and Capri, touting them as the way of the future. In fact, they were the top performance engine available in 1980. But due to drivability problems and the public's lack of understanding of turbocharged engines, they were abruptly pulled from the market in 1981. The Capri saw a minor update for 1983. A new grill and an updated rear bumper and hatch made the Capri even more distinctive. An enhanced 5.0l was the top cat perfomance wise, but Ford threw the performance crowd a little catnip. Midway through the model year, the 2.3 turbo returned, but this time with electronic fuel injection. With the better fuel delivery, boost was increased to 10psi. A T5 5-speed was the only transmission option. Since the engine was introduced late only 381 cars came equipped with the little turbo.

In 1984, Mercury made a special RS Turbo package to showcase the 2.3l Turbo powered car. Unoffically known as the 'Charcoal Turbo', all 1321 turbo powered Capris were only available in Dark Charcoal Metallic with a silver rocker panel and stripe around the exterior, front air dam, TRX wheel & suspension package, V8 sway bars, 3.45:1 limited slip rear axel, hood scoop, and orange and red lettering and striping. Sunroof and T-Tops were optional. While the engine didn't match the power of the V8 models, the turbo cars handled better due to less weight over the front wheels. Unfortunately, the Capri didn't receive the more potent intercooled 2.3l turbo and other upgrades that the Mustang SVO received.. While the SVO lived until the end of 1986, 1984 was the end of the road for the RS Turbo.

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May 2, 1996

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