Use car buying guide: Ford Capri Mk3

The Pros: The crime busting TV duo each drove a Capri Mk3, at the time one of the most stolen cars in the UK

The Mk3 entered into a long-lasting British romance with the Capri as a new car. We explain what to watch out for and how much they pay for one today

Move one letter, you form what sounds like a word that, to many people, is best described by the Capri, a sports coupe that carried over from 1969 to 1986. That was then, but, today, a good Capri is a desirable old thing.

This is the third and final generation - released in 1978 and known, which is not surprising, since the Mk3 - that we are interested in here. Production ended in 1986, but it wasn't until 1989 that the last example of a 280 Brooklands to go through registration, which tells you everything you need to know about Ford's quick scuff handling.

If only we knew then what we know now. In 1989, Brooklands cost around £12,000, but today it's better to go for as much as £40,000. In the real world, a good Mk3 starts at £8000, but you can get a nice 1.3 or 1.6 for $3500. Where it doesn't, I'm assuming it's because you're looking at filler.

The Mk3 was a slightly more recent Mk2, which actually turned out to be very successful. It used the same Cortina-derived undercarriage and engines. These ranged from 1.3 to 3.0 liters. V6, the latter is also available as Torquay S and breathing through three webers. Style-wise, the most successful tweak was the way the hood was slightly widened behind the new four headlights to give it a more aggressive look. The car got more aerodynamic, too, and the most powerful versions had a discreet rear spoiler.

In 1982, the 3.0 engine was replaced by a fuel-injected 2.8 cleaner. Early versions of this unit had a four-speed gearbox. The 2.8 came with a five-speed 'box and self-locking diff in 1984. The 1.3 and 1.6 versions gave people a step into Capri land, but it was in 2.0 that was a big seller. By 1984, the UK was the only country hosting Capri. In 1986, Ford ran the final dice roll with the Capri 280 Brooklands, based on the 2.8i Special and finished in dark green. This was the last version from the production line.

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Depending on the engine, you could have your Capri in L, GL, GIA, Laser or Steam, but today such niceties have been pushed aside by the state of the vehicle. Even the mileage is not a problem, because at this distance, you will want to keep your head up and in general condition everything that moves. Depending on what you are looking for, the position of the part is either good or sharp. At least in the absence of good steel, someone is making plastic hoods now. Beware of cars with bad interiors with hard source finishes.

We joke about the name, but Capri is a cute rascal. Just check for rust and putty, and don't pay for overweight.

How to get one in your garage
Expert opinion

Martin Posony, founder of the Capri Mechanism: “I started my business in 1994 breaking through Capri, but today, with rising prices, I spend more time on restoration and maintenance. There are a lot of awful, patched-up Capris out there, but people just fall for the looks every time. There are fakes, too, such as 3,0 liter cars with 1.6 body laser projectiles. The spare situation becomes critical, with many details now scarce or non-existent. Corrosion is a big enemy. Mechanical is easy to fix. My favorite is the early 2.8 i fourspeed – not Brooklands because it was thrown together.”

Buyer beware...

■ Body: body rust trap. Outer and inner fenders, wheel arches, sills, door bottoms, chassis rails, turret suspension, hinge mounts and even the fuel tank can all rot and fall off spectacularly.

■ Engine: - we could go about the way V-6s blow their gaskets and can even warp as 2,0 liter Pinto engines suffer worn out camshafts, big ends knocking, tailpipe smoke, Ford carbs on base models can be troublesome from the cold, the 2.8 and K-Jetronic system is filled with rust if unused… but, really, just wait and check everything. This is the state of high-voltage wires, watching the mayonnaise sludge around the oil filler neck, for overheating problems in a clogged radiator and tightness from the same.
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■ Gearbox: keep your eyes peeled for crunchy synchromesh and the driveshaft rumbles, vibrates and whines. Strong gearbox wear will jump out of the gears for overrun.

■ Steering, suspension: some Mk3s are now over 40 years old, so are exempt from MOT testing - a reason to check the safety of critical components such as springs, dampers, upper strut and arm bushes, as well as the steering rack.

■ Brakes: Tired brake hoses, rusty and warped discs and calipers have captured everything possible, especially if the car is rarely used.

■ Interior: get away from something too tired and worn because finding replacement upholstery can be tricky.

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