I loved my Ford Capri, but an electric remake? No thanks
So, the Ford Capri is to be reborn. The car most of us remember from seeing it on a TV show like Life On Mars or on an ironic greetings card will, motoring industry insiders say, come back as a fully electric model in 2024. Ford itself is not revealing much more than hints. It is expected to be £40,000 and it might be more of an SUV. To which I say, ARE YOU MAD?
My first car was a Ford Capri. We called it “the silver bullet” and for a while it was the transport for my girl gang – we’d arrive at a party and long-legged twentysomethings would unfold from the back seats and out of the low-slung doors into whichever west London club night we fancied. No one ever scratched it, nicked it or otherwise mistreated it – such was the respect for the “working man’s Porsche”.
Back in 1992 I’d just passed my driving test. I’d lived in Portobello for years but hadn’t felt the need for my own car. Eventually it seemed the grown-up thing to do, although my interest in buying a city runaround was minimal – these were the days before parking spaces were like gold dust and there weren’t punitive fees for just driving around your own city.
An ex-boyfriend with whom I still worked had a rather stylish mum, Patricia, who was selling her silver Ford Capri. Raised on Starsky & Hutch and with more interest in making an entrance than making a saving, I bought it. What I didn’t think through, until my first foray out from a side road on to the motorised melee that is Ladbroke Grove, was that the Capri’s gargantuan bonnet meant you had to practically cross the junction before you could see whether it was, in fact, safe to cross the junction. How I ever navigated the capital without major incident over the years is extraordinary.
The aesthetics of the Ford Capri didn’t just appeal to club kids like me. Its long lines and revolutionary colourways meant it was already a collectible. Yes, that bonnet, but also the chrome trim, those signature four headlights and ribbed bench back seats that were more groovy than comfy.
Between its launch in 1969 and end of production in 1986, almost 1.9 million of them were sold. I love that the first smaller engine models were called Capri Kent and the larger ones (two- and three-litre) were called Capri Essex… nominative determinism right there. They came in newly poppy colours like blaze, cosmos blue, cardinal red, oyster, platinum, gold – I remember seeing a bright orange with go-faster stripes; a banana yellow with a ducktail spoiler.
I was no petrol-head but driving a Capri definitely meant kudos; it wasn’t a posh w---er’s Aston, a beginner’s Renault Clio or one of the incoming “hot hatches” that had none of the style or sleek lines. You had to work that four-speed manual gearbox with confidence, not just because of that long nose, but even the smaller engines like my 1981 1.6 litre one were pretty poky.
I bought mine for a few hundred quid. A bigger engine model from 1981 sold recently for around £40,000, so I should have kept it (on bricks, in a garage – who could afford the petrol for a motor like that these days?).
So will an electric Ford Capri appeal? Not to me and that’s not because I’m anti-EV. I was an early adopter and mark 15 years with my (also now discontinued) tiny, tinny plug-in Reva G-Wiz next month.
Electric cars are, in my view, brilliant city cars for short distances, designed to be small enough to get two on one parking bay. Long, lean motors (and they are motors, to be said with a dropped “t”) deserve to revved, zoomed and driven with hands definitely moving beyond the ten-to-two arrangement.
A Ford spokesman said: “We don’t speculate on future product but Ford is on a mission to make electric iconic.” Good luck with that, pal.
Your Ford Capri memories: ‘Fun to drive, lusty engine and simple to maintain’