The Capri is remembered for the classic advertising slogan ‘The car you always promised yourself’. The first real Ford Capri was introduced in January 1969
at the Brussels Motor Show, with sales starting the following month. The intention was to reproduce the success of the North American Ford Mustang in Europe, to produce a European pony car. It was mechanically based on the Cortina
and built in Europe at the Dagenham and Halewood plants in the UK, the Genk plant in Belgium, and the Saarlouis and Cologne plants in Germany.
The car was named Colt during development stage, but Ford were unable to use the name, as it was trademarked by Mitsubishi
. Although a fastback coupe, Ford wanted the Capri MKI to be affordable for a large spectrum of potential buyers. In order to do that, it was available in a variety of engines. The British and German factories produced different line-ups. The continental model used the Ford Taunus V4 engine in 1.3, 1.5 and 1.7 litre displacement, while the British versions were powered by the Ford Kent straight-4 in 1.3 and 1.6 litre form. The Cologne V6 2.0 L served as initial range-topper. Until the end of the year, new sports versions were added: the 2300 GT in Germany, using a double-barrel carburettor and 125hp (92 kW), and the 3000 GT in the UK, with the Essex V6, capable of 138 hp (103 kW).
In April 1970
, Ford began selling the Capri outside Europe, in the North-American, South African and Australian markets. These versions were powered solely by the underpowered Kent 1.6 engine, but a Pinto straight 4 cylinder 2.0 litre replaced it in 1971
. The American version featured new headlights and bumpers, and carried no brand badge. A new 2637cc version of the Cologne V6 appeared in September 1971
, powering the Capri RS2600. This model used Kügelfischer fuel injection
to raise power to 150 hp (110 kW), and was the basis for the Group 2 RS2600 used in the European Touring Car Championship.
The RS2600 also received modified suspensions, a close ratio gearbox, lightened bodywork
panels, ventilated disc brakes
and aluminium wheels. The 2.6 L engine was detuned in September for the deluxe version 2600 GT, with 2550cc and a double-barrel Solex carburettor. The Ford Capri was first introduced into Australia in May, 1969
and was initially available only as a 1600 Deluxe or a 1600 GT. In February, 1970
, the 1600 GT was replaced by the more powerful V6 3000GT, although a 1600 XL model was introduced to fill the void left by the 1600 GT's demise. The four cylinder Capri's sold extremely well, (over 12,000 units were sold in less than four years), with more than a third of these being sold within the first year.