If you’re a music lover, you’ll most likely be familiar with the sensation of going back to an album you liked, but haven’t listened to in a long time, and rediscovering why you liked those songs or the musicians that created them. Part of the mission here is to do the same for once-popular (and sometimes not-so-popular) cars that have faded into obscurity, a good example of which is the Ford/Mercury Capri. The Capri was originally sold as the sexy European, but by the time the second generation car had arrived, the 2.3-liter car had gained 476 pounds over the original 1970 1.6 Kent-engined car, had lost several of the design flourishes of the original, and together with a new hatch, had matured into the “pleasantly plump and practical European”. Which might have been a great tagline for commercials, but a weakening dollar and the arrival of the Fox-body Mustang in 1978 meant North American Capris did not last long. Check out this 1976 Mercury Capri II for sale for $3000 in Rialto, CA.
This car features a nice bright 1970s orange color, aptly named Bright Orange by the factory. For the time, Ford actually did a pretty decent job of integrating federal bumpers – while they were certainly large, matching them to the body color helped minimize their visual impact. This car is missing its front bumper and side trim, and is said to need final assembly, though it’s not clear why since the paint does not appear to be new. The front valance does appear to have slight damage in some pictures, so you’ll want to make sure the bumper mounts are straight. The hood is also misaligned, and seems to have a small dent on the leading edge. Perhaps “assembly” refers to hooking everything up on the rebuilt engine, which (oddly) is not pictured. Libre wheels are nice, but seem a little small in this application, even for the 1970s.
Perhaps a good cut and polish would bring the gloss back to the car, as the paint doesn’t look horribly worn. It’s nice that it’s not in one of the metallic shades available then, as those are nearly always oxidized by now. Tint should be one of the first things to go, though it’s understandable to need it in southern California. The seller does have extra parts, and aside from North American trim, you should be able to source anything else from Europe.
One of the other strong points on this car is the interior – while the back seats need cleaning, and there’s some cracking in the dash, everything else looks remarkably good. The car still wears its blue California plates, suggesting it’s been there since the early 1980s at least. The shift knob is missing, and there’s some light staining on the carpet, but considering how poorly these pale interiors wore, this one is pretty well-preserved. If this car looks too orange/easy/expensive/far away, or you want a source for that missing bumper, check out this 1976 Mercury Capri II for sale for $500 in Lincoln, NE.
With the caveat that there’s not much shown of the car’s sides, it doesn’t look that horrible for a snowbelt car from the 1970s – perhaps it’s a summer car that was stored outside in later years (and in fact, it was said to be stored since 1994). The seller does acknowledge rust, but yellow paint will do a good job of exposing flaws. It’s also said to have water and rodent damage. The interior actually looks like it suffered a lot of sun, so perhaps it was brought from another state – either way, you won’t be using many of those parts for another car. At the price, perhaps your best choice is to gut the interior and run it in your local budget racing series.