It’s now properly over 30 years for the reason that iconic Ford Capri went out of manufacturing – however over that interval, the badge has remained a preferred one with fans. Certainly, the thought of a reborn model of the individuals’s sports activities automobile has been alluded to greater than as soon as by Ford executives, prompting numerous scoops on the topic by the motoring media, Auto Categorical included.

However how shut has a reborn Capri ever really been to creating manufacturing? How a lot has Ford performed round with its elements bin, platform line-up and advertising and marketing technique to see if a ‘new Capri’ is perhaps possible?

The solutions to those questions might properly lie in a brand new ebook from motor business insider Steve Saxty. A veteran of Ford’s personal product design crew who has additionally had stints at Mazda, Jaguar and Porsche, Saxty has spent a lot of the previous 5 years chatting with former Ford staff about tasks that by no means noticed the sunshine of day – and following this up by extracting a whole lot of beforehand unseen images from the depths of the corporate’s picture archives.

The ensuing ebook, Secret Fords, stretches throughout two volumes, and divulges how Ford experimented continuously with tasks that by no means noticed the sunshine of day – every part from a luxurious saloon to a Ferrari-chasing supercar and a four-wheel-drive Focus Cosworth. 

The books additionally embrace no fewer than eight beforehand unseen Capri tasks – a tally that got here as a shock to Saxty himself, not least as a result of he’s beforehand written a ebook about that mannequin. “I believed I actually had coated off the Capri,” Saxty informed us. “However then as individuals began opening up for Secret Fords, they saved pondering of vehicles they’d seen within the studio, typically 40 years in the past. And that despatched me again into the archives, looking for these vehicles – and I used to be amazed at what turned up.”

On this unique image choice from the ebook, we’re showcasing only a handful of the Capri ideas – one which previewed the third technology of the automobile, and three extra that display how Ford’s design hierarchy was taking part in round with what the mannequin may grow to be.

MA/PF-11 Modular Capri

This design research was really created in 1976, when Ford tried to boost the pretty bland Mk2 Capri into one thing that will have extra attraction with the unique automobile’s buyer base. It was, in actual fact, proven to the general public on the 1976 Geneva Motor Present – however drew little consideration as a result of the press was centered on the forthcoming new Fiesta and Cortina.

MA/PF-11 was a little bit of a design mash-up that took parts from the present Mk2 Capri and grafted on cues from the Escort RS2000 – most notably that automobile’s vane entrance grille, made all of the cleaner on the Capri idea by the location of the Ford badge on the forefront of the bonnet above.

Different show-car parts included 17-inch wheels (regular immediately, however large compared with the Capri’s standard 13-inch gadgets again in 1976), a rear spoiler and a moulding excessive of the A-pillar, designed to present the automobile a smoother total look. 

The MA/PF-11 idea you see right here didn’t make it by to manufacturing unchanged, however Ford’s Swiss designer Heinz Berhalter tweaked the entrance grille and simplified the rear spoiler to present it a extra elegant look, with out the present automobile’s lengthy nostril. 

It labored, too; the ensuing Mk3 Capri, which was launched in 1978, lasted throughout till the ultimate examples of the automobile have been delivered in 1987.

Ghia’s ‘Sierra Capri’

One among 4 never-before-seen Ghia research featured in Saxty’s ebook, this mannequin was created in September 1980, only a few months after the Sierra had been signed off, however nonetheless virtually two years earlier than the controversial Cortina substitute would really attain manufacturing. 

The Ford-owned consultancy was given a quick to shake up the established design course of by arising with left-field options to the mainstream fashions – and it definitely did that with this idea. The proposed Mk4 Capri took its windscreen and headlights from the Sierra, plus the doorways from the three-door model of that automobile. 

The important thing aspect within the automobile’s profile was the blacked-out panel on the B-pillar, as a result of it allowed Ghia’s crew to shorten the rear window slightly in a bid to present the automobile extra of a coupé look as an alternative of remaining an excessive amount of of a three-door household automobile. A bit of surfacing, low down on the flanks, helped to scale back the visible mass of the facet panels, too.

With the Sierra’s rear-drive chassis beneath it, and the potential for V6 energy and even four-wheel drive, this mannequin may have been an interesting proposition for a Mk4 Capri; the shared underpinnings may have helped Ford to maintain down prices, too. However the market had already began to maneuver in direction of smaller, extra fuel-efficient coupés just like the VW Scirocco, and sizzling hatches such because the VW Golf GTI – so Ghia’s efforts by no means made it past this early stage.

Capri Kammback

Behold the Capri Kammback, which took the Mk3 Escort XR3 as its inspiration as an alternative of the Sierra. This radical-looking idea was Ghia’s fourth and closing try at making a Capri, created with the next (self-provided) transient: “This proposal has a novel and distinct persona – combining the sporty picture of the Capri with the useful traits of a station wagon [estate car]. The Capri Kammback options seating for 4, with entry by the tailgate or by the centre-hinged wrapover quarter window, permitting simple kerbside loading.”

The ensuing automobile is not like something seen in Ford’s again catalogue, with even the longer important doorways dwarfed by the slab of bodywork working from B-pillar to tail, supporting a posh glass construction that will have been doubtlessly ruinous to make. The telltale design cue on this mannequin – aside from these XR3 alloys – is the rising beltline, which is supposed to spotlight the swap to front-wheel drive. 

The novel Kammback seems to be a good distance from a conventional Capri substitute – nevertheless it was thought-about significantly sufficient for it to be flown to the USA for aerodynamic testing. Certainly, the 2 Ghia fashions featured listed below are among the many most secret design research to characteristic in Saxty’s ebook, as a result of the codes on the few pictures unearthed of them would point out that they have been shipped direct from the agency’s workshops in Turin to Dearborn within the US. In order that they bypassed all of Ford’s European design know-how – turning into, to some extent, secret vehicles inside Ford itself.

By the way, the photographs reveal that this was proposed as ‘Capri III’ – a mirrored image of how Ford by no means referred to the Mk3 Capri by that designation. The corporate all the time believed that the mannequin that ran from 1978 to 1987 was the facelifted Mk2.

Mission S272/Visos

As issues stand, this automobile is the place the Capri story ends – as a result of Mission S272 marked the final critical try to carry the nameplate again to life. The automobile’s existence was inextricably linked to Martin Leach, who grew to become Ford of Europe’s president in 2002. The British exec had seen ‘retro-modern’ vehicles just like the reborn MINI and Beetle, BMW’s Z8 and Ford’s personal Thunderbird, and he determined that the time was proper for the Capri title to return.

Ford’s designers, led by J Mays and Chris Fowl, accepted an idea created by Chris Svensson (father of the unique Puma and first Ka). Known as Visos, it assumed that clients wouldn’t desire a pastiche of an previous Capri, however slightly a extra subtle, forward-looking sports activities coupé.

As such, the idea was clearly based mostly on a comparatively small platform – on this case, the Focus’s – though due to the three-door bodystyle, it was simpler to attract similarities
with the Volvo C30, which additionally used the identical structure. Nevertheless, Ford claimed a extra formidable powertrain than these vehicles’, proposing a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine producing 350bhp, and four-wheel drive.

The design had a neat entrance finish that subtly referenced the Capri’s multi-headlight association, and in addition included an upturned hockey-stick facet swage, dummy air vents simply forward of the rear wheels, and unusually muscular rear shoulders for such a small mannequin.

The Visos was in actual fact displayed on the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Present, the place Ford insiders did their greatest to trace to media that the automobile may very well be the “new Capri”. The agency even trotted the idea (freshly repainted in metallic inexperienced)
out for take a look at drives by the motoring press, together with Auto Categorical, which concluded that the automobile had stable potential
to be a halo mannequin for the remainder of the Ford vary.

Plans for a manufacturing model took a success, although, when analysis confirmed that whereas potential consumers preferred the Audi-esque sophistication, they wiped £10,000 off their anticipated worth once they realised it was a Ford. 

Ultimately, Leach left Ford simply because the Visos idea was being launched. In consequence, Mission S272 misplaced momentum at an important stage, and any hope of the Capri title returning died with it. In the interim, not less than.

Learn the way some radical idea vehicles have been in a position to enter manufacturing…