The first Ford Capri, a European version of the ‘pony’ car, was introduced into Europe in 1969 in the hope of replicating the huge success which the Ford Mustang had enjoyed in the USA.
Capri derived its mechanics from the Ford Cortina and was built in the United Kingdom at both the Dagenham and Halewood plants initially for the British market whilst cars for Europe were built in both Belgium and Germany. In its development stage the car went by the code name Colt but Ford was not able to use this name as it was already a trademark owned by Mitsubishi.
So that the car would have universal appeal Ford offered it with a variety of engines. The continental model used the Ford Taunus V4 engine which was available in 1.3, 1.5 and 1.7 litre versions whilst in Britain the car was powered by the Kent straight-4 offered in 1.3 and 1.6 litre versions. For the top of the line models both areas offered 2.0 litre engines. In Europe this was a V6 and a V4 in Britain.
In 1970, new sports versions of the top of the line engines were introduced. The German produced car came with a 2300GT engine, using a double-barrel carburettor producing an output of 92 kW whilst the British made cars had an Essex V6 motor capable of 103 kW.
When the Capri first went on the market the initial reception was broadly favourable with only a few suggesting that it was rather too much like an American car and lacked the road-holding and performance of other European models.
In early 1970 Ford began exporting the British model powered by the underpowered V4 1.6-litre Kent motor to overseas markets including Australia. The RS2600 was introduced in September 1971. This model had a new 2.6-litre version of the Cologne V6 using an all alloy cylinder head as well as Kugelfischer fuel injection which raised power to 110 kW.
The RS2600 also received modified suspension, a close ratio gearbox, lightened body panels, ventilated disc brakes and aluminium wheels. The Capri proved to be a very successful car as 400,000 were sold by the end of 1970. In 1972 the Mk.1 underwent a facelift with a new suspension to improve comfort, rectangular headlights, enlarged tail-lights and new seats.