Find of the Week: 1974 Mercury Capri

It's an import with a domestic badge. A sports car from a different continent. One that's a legend back home but not so well known on this side of the pond. That makes it unique and a little cooler, because this isn't one that's likely to be recognized by everybody. It's a 1974 Mercury Capri. And this one's got some cool period modifications that set it apart from the rest. Which is why it's our autoTRADER.ca Find of the Week.

Before the Capri became a warmed-over Mercury version of the Fox-body Mustang, it was a standalone model from Ford in Europe. Like the original Mustang was to the Ford Falcon, so was the Capri to the Ford Cortina. Take your family sedan chassis, and add a fastback two-door body. Give it a new name, and a sports model is born.

It launched in Europe in 1968, built in four different plants. Badged as a Ford there, the car was available with a huge range of engines to help fit different budgets. No fewer than 12 were available, ranging from a 1.3L four-cylinder to a 3.1L V6. There were even some V4 engines on offer – because Ford had been using that very strange engine design at the time for reasons that still aren't all that clear.

Wanting some more sporting international models to fit into its lineup, Ford brought the Capri to North America in early 1970. The cars were sold as Mercurys, at Lincoln-Mercury dealers; presumably so they didn't compete with the Mustang, though Mercury dealers were still selling the Cougar at the time.

Though sold as a Mercury, the Capri got no Mercury badging. The cars got a few changes so that they could be sold in our market, like four round headlights replacing the square units used in Europe. There were changes to the marker and signal lights as well. More significantly, the automaker gave the car some new engines, matching those used by the Ford Pinto, and so more familiar to mechanics over here.

In 1972, a 2.6L V6 joined the lineup. It was the European Cologne V6 (named, like the Windsor and Cleveland V8s, for the city where they were made). This was the first V6 marketed by Ford in North America.

Our Find of the Week is a 1974 model. That means it gets the larger 2.8L Cologne V6. Power was rated at 115 hp in the US and Canada, thanks to a different exhaust design.

Other changes by 1974 included a new body-colour plastic bumper to meet impact rules, and a new grille and different taillights to match. There was also a new dash and steering wheel fitted.

But this car doesn't have those bumpers. They've been removed, front and rear. And while they might not offer that 8 km/h protection of the original plastic pieces, the car sure does look better this way. Especially with those extra driving lights fitted in the nose. The seller says the original bumpers come with, should you want them back on.

The original engine has gotten some changes, too. Gone is the factory intake, replaced with an intake from legendary engine builder Offenhauser. That, combined with the four-barrel carb that replaces the old two-barrel, should let this engine breathe a little better than it did from the factory. It's also fitted with a stainless steel Magnaflow dual exhaust so you can hear that engine.

Of course, it comes with the original intake as well. Plus a set of small chrome bumpers. There's even an 8-Track, should you want to really make it 1974 all over again. The seller says that much of the trim has been replaced and that it comes with a new dash skin because of a small crack in the vintage plastic.

The car even comes with the service manuals and the original bill of sale, plus more documentation. It's for sale in North York, ON.

A Mercury Capri might not be the first thought when you think of 1970s classics, but it's definitely one that'll stand out. Smaller than a Mustang, way cooler than the Mustang II that debuted the same year. This 1974 Mark 1 Mercury Capri could be just the right temperature for you.

 

Capri, sun, roads? 7/31/2019 9:11:00 AM