The history of the Ford Consul Capri

   

The first use of the name Capri outside the USA was by Ford of Britain for a two door coupé version of the Ford Classic saloon. To really understand why this model was produced and in such limited numbers, one has to look at the history of the Ford Motor Company (UK) at that time. During the 1950s all bodies for Ford of Britain's passenger vehicles were built by outside body builders. Dearborn made it known in November 1960 that it wanted to purchase the rest of the share capital in Ford of Britain and this brought about some policy changes that had great influence on the styling of the coming models. Not the least the fact that they put their own people into Dagenham.
The Ford Classic was a result of 4 years of intensive development. Approval for the project was given in autumn 1956. The styling of the car was the last project undertaken by Colin Neale before he left Dagenham for Dearborn. The initial design requirements was for the Ford Classic to be a full range model to take Ford into the new decade. Ford even produced a full size estate (or Station Wagon) mock-up but it never reached production.
The Capri Project was code named "Sunbird" and took design elements from the Ford Thunderbird and the Ford Galaxie Sunliner. It was instigated by Sir Horace Denne, Ford's Sales Director. He wanted a "Co-respondent's" car to add a little glamour to the product line. It was designed by Charles Thompson who worked under Neale and had sweeping lines, a large boot space and a pillarless coupé roof.
On its September announcement the Consul Capri was for export only but went on sale to the domestic British market in January 1962. The bodies were sub-assembled by Pressed Steel Fisher, with only final assembly taking place at Dagenham. It was intended as part of the Ford Classic range of cars and the body was well engineered but was complex and expensive to produce. With new production methods, time demands from Dearborn and a need to match opposition manufacturers in price, the Ford Classic and Consul Capri were almost doomed from the start. The Ford Classic ran from 61 - 63, and was replaced by the more successful Cortina-derived Ford Corsair.
The Consul Capri was made to Ford Classic De-Luxe spec only, it offered many then unusual features, such as four headlights, variable speed wipers, 9.5 in (241 mm) front disc brakes, dimming dashboard lights, and a cigar lighter. The four speed transmission was available with either a column or floor change.
Initially fitted with a 1340 cc 3 main bearing engine (model 109E), the early cars were considered underpowered and suffered from premature crankshaft failure. Engine capacity was increased in August 1962 to 1498 cc (model 116E) and this engine was a vast improvement. The first 200 Capris were left-hand-drive cars for export including Europe and North America. In Germany at the 1961 Frankfurt Auto Show, Ford sold 88 Capris.
In February 1963 a GT version (also 116E) was announced. The new GT engine, developed by Cosworth, featured a raised compression ratio to 9:1, a modified head with larger exhaust valves, an aluminium inlet manifold, a four branch exhaust manifold and, most noticeably, a twin-choke Weber carburettor - this being the first use of this make on a British production car. The same engine was announced for use in the Ford Cortina in April 1963.
Overall the car was very expensive to produce and in the latter part of its production was running alongside the very popular Ford Cortina. Sales were disappointing and the Consul Capri was removed from sale after just two and a half years with 19,421 sold, of which 2002 were GT models. Just 1007 cars were sold in 1964, the last year of production, 412 of them being GTs. The Consul Capri was discontinued in July 1964. The Consul Capri (335) is one of the rarest cars from Ford of Great Britain.

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