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Ford Capri Mk3: Buying guide and review (1978-1986)

Ford Capri Mk3: Buying guide and review (1978-1986) Classic and Performance Car
Ford Capri Mk3 buying guide (1978-1986) Ford Capri Mk3 buying guide (1978-1986) Ford Capri Mk3 buying guide (1978-1986)
When Ford launched the Capri in 1969, it was advertised with the slogan ‘the car you always promised yourself’. Everyone knows that; what’s less well known the strapline for the third incarnation of the breed, launched in 1978. Can’t remember? It was ‘the difference between driving and just motoring’. 
 
While that first slogan is known by pretty much any classic car enthusiast, it showed how prescient these marketing types can be. Because while there were plenty of people who set their heart on a Capri when it was current, there are many who promised themselves one but would only realise the dream – or revisit it – after several decades. 
 
It’s this that has driven up Capri values in recent years, with a whole army of middle-aged men desperate to return to their youth. They still lust after a V6 Capri and now have the wherewithal to buy one. But as with many cars of this era, demand outstrips supply, which has led to a hefty increase in values. As a result, many Capris are no longer being bought for the thrills they offer – they’re being bought purely for investment purposes. 
 
Which one to buy? 
 
There were four types of engine, the least desirable of which is the virtually extinct 1.3-litre Kent unit. The Pinto came in 1.6 and 2.0-litre forms while the 3.0-litre Essex V6 is torquey but not especially refined. The Cologne V6 was the final incarnation, which in 1981 superseded the Essex powerplant in fuel-injected 2.8-litre form. 
 
Most Capri fans are interested only in the V6 editions, both 2.8i and 3.0. But while the V6 cars are the most fun to drive, don’t overlook a decent four-cylinder car if it’s a minter. You’re unlikely to find a car with the 1300 engine but 1.6 and 2.0-litre cars are more readily available. 
 
While the 1.6 feels a bit lacklustre, the 2.0-litre engine is noticeably more perky – especially if it’s been tuned. And with tuning parts easy to come by, a tuned 2.0-litre Capri might just allow you to get into something nice without having to break the bank. But a four-cylinder Capri will never be worth as much as a V6 edition. 
 
However many cylinders your purchase has, originality is generally key. The cars with the highest values are those closest to factory specification. So while there are some superb cars out there with major upgrades, they’re invariably worth less than cars that have been kept standard. 
 
Performance and specs 
 
Ford Capri 2.8i
Engine 2792cc, six-cylinder 
Gearbox Four or five-speed manual
Power 160bhp @ 5700rpm
Torque 162lb ft @ 4300rpm
Top speed 130mph
0-60mph 7.8sec
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2563mm
Length 4440mm
Width 1699mm
Height 1346mm
Kerb weight 1230kg
 
Common problems 
 
• Accident damage is a strong possibility, so inspect the chassis rails for damage. Rust is almost a given, especially in the front wings. Check for filler along their trailing edges and around the headlights. Also look at the inner wings, inside edges of the bonnet and around the grille. Every V6-engined Capri left the factory with an extra triangular strengthening plate at the top of the strut mounting. If it isn’t there, be suspicious. 
 
• The A-posts can rust, causing the doors to drop. The doors corrode along their underside, while poorly repaired sills are common, and so are rotten rear spring hangers. Check for rot on the inner bottom edge of the tailgate and the rear wings rot just behind the rear wheelarches. The rear arches themselves rot; so do boot floors and the metal around the rear light clusters. 
 
• Infrequent oil changes leads to premature wear on the Pinto engine, so listen for a noisy top end. The Pinto engine is generally reliable, but it wears like any other so check for oil being burned, along with water leaks from the water pump, as these tend to be weak. 
 
• The V6 engines are unstressed, but there’s a hexagonal shaft that drives the oil pump on the Essex unit. The shaft can snap when starting from cold, wrecking the engine. The fibre timing gear can also break up but steel replacements are available. Corrosion in the water jacket is another common Essex ailment, so check the condition of the coolant. 
 
• The Cologne unit can also suffer from the water jackets filling up with silt, while due to the positioning under the wheelarch, fuel pumps often corrode and the casing becomes porous. 
 
• Second gear is the weak spot on many Capris. The bushes also wear, leading to a sloppy gearchange, and the bearings only last around 70,000 miles before becoming noisy. 
 
• Transmission vibrations suggest the propshaft centre bearing has worn and if left, the diff bearing and gearbox rear bearing will be wrecked. 
 
• The inner track control arm anchorage bushes break up, leading to shudders through the steering over bumps. Replacing just the bushes is awkward, which is why many owners replace the whole arm. 
 
• The interior trim is fragile, apart from the leather in the 280 Brooklands and half-leather in the 2.8 Injection Special. Also, poor support under the centre speaker vent leads to cracking of the dash top. Good ones are scarce, so expensive. 
 
• The fusebox suffers from poor connections leading to all sorts of electrical glitches. Connection problems also affect the rear wash/wipe as the tailgate contacts corrode. Fine emery paper usually fixes things. 
 
Model history 
 
April 1978: The Capri MkIII debuts, with 1.3, 1.6 and 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines, or a 2994cc V6. Top of the range is the 3.0 X-pack. 
April 1980: The 1600L-based GT4 special edition is introduced 
July 1981: The Calypso and Cameo arrive in the showrooms, along with the 2.8i which ousted the 3.0 models. 
July 1982: The Capri Cabaret appears. 
October 1982: The Tickford Capri is shown at the NEC Motor Show, with a 205bhp turbocharged 2.8-litre engine. There are disc brakes all round, a limited-slip diff and revised rear axle location to help put the power down – but it wouldn’t go on sale for another year. 
January 1983: A five-speed gearbox is made standard on the 2.8i and soon after on 2.0-litre cars also. 
December 1986: The last Capri is built, a Brooklands 280 with leather trim, metallic green paintwork and 15-inch spoked alloy wheels. 
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites 
 
• Capri Club International – www.capriclub.co.uk 
• Capri Club Scotland – www.capriclubscotland.co.uk 
 
Summary and prices
 
Ford Capri values have been rising fast, and the most sought after models such as the 280i Brooklands are now a seriously expensive proposition. Budget around £30,000 for one of these in good nick, with one concours example selling for £54,000 at a recent auction. 
 
Prices for the smaller engined cars are still actually more sensible, and you can find something in great condition from the £5000 mark. Modified cars are common, and can provide good value if you can ensure that the work has been carried out well. You must be wary of buying a dog, as there are a lot of badly repaired cars around.
 
Cheaper cars needing some light restoration work can also be good value from the £1500-£2500 mark.
 
Words: Richard Dredge
Ford Capri Mk3 buying guide (1978-1986) Ford Capri Mk3 buying guide (1978-1986) Ford Capri Mk3 buying guide (1978-1986)
Last updated: 11th Aug 2016
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Ford Capri cars for sale

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Ford Capri
3100 57500 GBP
  • Lot 317

    Ford Capri

    £15,000 - £18,000 est. £15,000 - £18,000 est.
    Auction Date: 13 May 2017
    RESERVE PRICE
    • Engine size: 1993
    Auction Date: 13 May 2017
    Silverstone Auctions
    +44 (0) 1926 691 141 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • 1974 Ford Capri RS3100

    £57,500 £57,500

    Engine Size: 3.1L Transmission: Manual Year: 1974 One of 250 cars specially built by Ford AVO to homologate a car capable of taking on the BMW 3.0CSL in the European Touring Car Championship. The resulting Cologne Capri/Batmobile battles of the 1970s ETCC were legendary, with both manufacturers determined to win at any cost! For the RS3100, the Essex 3.0 engine was over-bored by Cosworth to 3091cc; suspension was modified from standard with stiffer front springs and competition rear springs; coupled with slightly flared arches, shallow front splitter and superbly evocative rear wing made these look sensational, and indeed the fastest production Ford of that time. This car is one of 100 known to survive and was subject to a full bare metal restoration in the mid 1990’s with detailed photographic record of every stage. The car subsequently won concours events across Europe and was featured in several magazines. The engine was rebuilt at the same time, and the car sits on the incredibly rare but correct RS3100 Alloy Flat 4 spoke wheels and still carries its period Spa Special AVO plate and badging. This is an original UK car and carries its original registration plate of ROW 131M. It

    For sale
  • Ford Capri 1979

    £3,100 £3,100

    EXCELLENT SPECIAL ORDER BLACK 1979 V FORD CAPRI 3.0 S 4 SPEED MANUAL WITH THE ESSEX 3000 CC V6 ENGINEMILEAGE IS JUST OVER 71000 WHAT APPEARS TO BE ON A PAPER TRAIL,GENUINE.ITS JUST OVER 35 YEARS OLD

    • Engine size: 2994
    For sale
  • Ford Capri Coupe 1972

    POA POA

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- Ford Capri 2600 GT XLR 1972, restored, for fans 1972 Ford Capri 2600 GT XLR. Originally delivered in Holland and owned by a fan. Optical and technical restored and in fabulous condition. Paint is light blue with black top and a black/grey interior. Paint, chrome and interior are in a fabulous and well maintained condition. The car has the original 2550CC V6 125 HP engine and manual gearbox. Car also has a RVS exhaust, extra high beam headlights, original leather steering wheel etc. So a very rare, very beautiful Ford Capri 2600 GT XLR. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1972
    For sale
  • Ford Capri

    £17,955 £17,955

    *SIMILAR QUALITY CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. A truly stunning Ford Capri 3.0S professionally restored to show standard. EQUIPMENT Overriders, S bodyside tape stripe, black passenger door mirror, black rear spoiler, black louvred grille, halogen headlamps, integral front spoiler, tailgate wash/wipe, integral rear fog lamp, sports gearshift knob, quartz clock, trip meter, tachometer, ammeter, oil pressure gauge, handbrake warning light, heated rear window, aeroflow face level vents, two-speed heater, instrument rheostat, courtesy light. Factory Options: Remote control drivers door mirror, steel tilting/sliding roof, tinted glass. EXTERIOR This legendary and genuine Capri 3.0S finished Ford Oyster Gold boasts an impeccable appearance with a perfect mirror paint finish. The subject of an extensive full restoration by renowned and highly respected East Sussex based Restore-A-Ford in 2011, the resulting achievement is simply amazing with the original 3.0S being soda blasted as a starting point. A fully detailed underside will delight the avid enthusiast on the show circuit with colour coded anti-chip coating and powder coated components laid bare in full splendour. Rare factory options such as the steel tilting/sliding roof and tinted glass remain fitted along with all exterior trim items and decals being pristine and factory correct. This very rare, sporting, top-of-range for performance Capri simply breathtaking. INTERIOR This iconic models interior is distinguished by seats fully trimmed in the Chocolate/White Carla fabric (code A1) with Chocolate Savannah fabric surrounds. The upholstery is spotlessly clean and free from wear as is the matching deep pile carpeting, brand new at the time of restoration. The three spoke leather sports steering wheel looks factory fresh, and all controls and gauges fully function including the two-speed heater fan and analogue quartz clock. The soft feel dashboard is free from cracks, however two tiny splits to the outer surface around the offside A pillar can be seen and the rear package tray is not fitted. The perforated headlining is clean, tight and free from discolouration. This fantastic 1970’s interior remains exactly true to Ford’s intentions, truly brilliant. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION With a choice of three engines this model is fitted with the range-topping Essex 3000 V6 with twin choke carburettor. A power output of 138bhp at 5000rpm enables a top speed of 124mph and a 0-60 dash in 8.0 seconds. A manual choke conversion has been carried out. Raising the bonnet reveals a fully detailed and polished engine compartment with chassis stampings and imposing Essex lump dressed in Ford Motorcraft service items. An intoxicating burble through the stainless steel exhaust system is very addictive! The 4-speed manual gearbox with synchromesh to all forward gears operates correctly. The correct sports gearshift knob is the finishing touch. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES Brand new 7 x 13in JBW RS4 alloys are shod in new 205/60 R13 branded tyres. The pristine detailed boot area houses the factory supplied standard Ghia style alloy spare and an almost unobtainable original jack with Ford Emblem and part number stamped. An uprated braking system with 2.8 injection components enables swift and steady stopping capabilities. HISTORY FILE Registered new on 1st August 1979 and representing the ultimate desirable model by collectors, the Capri 3.0S is the most difficult car you promised yourself due to the rarity of the model. The fully documented professional restoration carried out by respected Restore-A-Ford speaks for itself and offers a complete insight as to all works carried out with no less than 244 labour hours quoted, but exceeded due to the owners quest for the perfect Capri. Numerous invoices, previous MOT certificates and documentation is included. Last sold by KGF Classic Cars and likely to appeal to a Ford aficionado who is keen to enjoy the show scene and wants to dazzle the crowds with this prime example. MOT January 2018, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/NoFDEsiTAOQ To see a full set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHskh54thK 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

    • Year: 1979
    • Mileage: 88186 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
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