Sporty, black and strong – that was the Ford Capri S 3.0

It's hard to believe, but the German Ford factory was once a pretty well-positioned full-range manufacturer. From small cars to luxury cars to sports cars, everything was available to buy from the contract partner. The sports cars bore the name Capri - for 18 years, from 1968 to 86.

For the casual observer there were three generations of the Capri, for anyone more familiar with the brand's history, even 5, which Ford differentiated by model year. In 1976 there were changes again, the Capri 76 was a transition to the next series, and actually a generation of its own.

The sporty top model was the Capri S 3.0. A corresponding appearance with a long bonnet, three liter displacement, six-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive. This was the stuff that makes you dream of a classic sports car.

Ford Capri S 3.0 - black is sporty
Ford Capri S 3.0 – black is sporty

The Ford Capri S 3.0 is new to the range

The year 1976. In this model year the second generation underwent another revision. Ford is cleaning up the equipment lines and rearranging them into L, GL, S and Ghia. L stands for basic, GL embodies some luxury, S again stands for sport. And Ghia is a synonym for the very large range of equipment that doesn't have to shy away from comparison with BMW or Mercedes. Production is outsourced to Saarlouis and the S 3.0 is brand new in the range.

Visually, the Capri S is quite impressive. Striking features are the large front spoiler, black sills and side decorative elements. The chassis is tuned more tightly, light alloy rims and H4 lights round off the sporty appearance. The 3,0 liter V6 engine waits under the long hood, producing 138 hp thanks to two double carburettors.

That's a lot, but maybe it's not enough. It takes 8,9 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h; in 1976, others could do that better. What the performance doesn't deliver, the interior does. Well-shaped sports seats pamper the passengers if they sit in the front seats. There is enough space at the back for children, who were probably happy with the limited space on short journeys.

The sporty driver - it was the time of perforated driving gloves - was delighted by the extensive watch collection, which could compete with many high-priced sports cars, and the sports steering wheel.

Is black serious? This is how Ford advertised the Capri in 1976.
Is black serious? This is how Ford advertised the Capri in 1976.

The S 3.0 is not a great success

In 1976, Ford Cologne advertised the new S 3.0 in a black advertisement. What a difference from the advertising that was in the media 3 years earlier. Back then, the manufacturer showed the sun with the Capri 73 (Link), colorful and full of joie de vivre, now the desire for seriousness can be felt in every line.

The Capri had changed, and it would continue to do so. The S 3.0 was not the big success that the marketing strategists were hoping for. Middle-class customers often chose the 2 or 2,3 liter model, with 90 or 108 hp respectively. Both engines were also equipped with prestigious six-cylinder engines, but were much cheaper.

Anyone who preferred the large 3 liter usually made a completely different choice at the Ford dealer. Instead of the S 3.0, he opted for the Ghia, which was pampered with a lot of luxury and an automatic transmission and was probably much better suited to the comfort character of the large engine.

However, the big six-cylinder engines were still not the end of the Ford 76. It still took some time, but from 1981 the Cologne-based company finally delivered the top engine that the Capri had long deserved. The 2,8i delivered 160 hp to the rear axle, so the Capri driver could actually put a Porsche 911 in trouble.

Apart from the limited turbo models, it was the highlight of Cologne's sports car evolution. This ended with the discontinuation of the series in 1986. The brand was never able to build on the great success of the Capri dynasty.

12 thoughts on "Sporty, black and strong – that was the Ford Capri S 3.0"

  • I had a Capri, I think it was 1976
    II 2,3 Ghia dark blue with light gray
    Interior, whenever I see a Capri at vintage car meetings, tears come to my eyes.
    It's just a shame, it's not coming

  • I was the first to drive a car b
    The Capri 2 with 68 hp I loved it but always had problems with the rear axle otherwise the TÜV would have divorced us. In 1986 my girlfriend and I bought a 3 with 138 hp at that time a hammer 4-speed 1st gear up to 70kmh and at the end 215kmh according to the speedometer I gave it a Zackspeed Chassis was given and a strut brace at the front rear gas pressure damper and a 75% lock so it was a little slower but with the chassis it was great which I thought was a shame I had to use the crappy spur gears to control the 6 cylinders and used 2 engines if it was the fancy coupé I would have it again Buy it and feel good it was a great car ❤️

  • I still own a 2.6 MK B today, after a bad day, take the Capri out of the garage, take it for a spin and your day couldn't be nicer

  • Unfortunately I wrecked the 1.6l with 68hp. Then bought the 3.0l with 138 hp. To this day it's my best Ford. I've been driving a Ford since 1976 but there's never been a car like this again

  • My father bought a Capri 11GTXL in 69/1700, metallic paint, vinyl roof, 75 hp, V4. It was a super nice car... only after 2 years it was already rusted through! Then later one of the 2nd series, special model in black with gold (John Player Special)! Wow! It had a (too weak) 1600 engine with 88 hp and a TERRIBLE chassis! This was then improved by the factory as a gesture of goodwill (spoiler, harder etc. etc.)! Then the color became unfashionable and the Ford dealer was reluctant to trade it in!

  • I bought a 1979S in 2.3. It offered me more than a BMW 3 Series back then and was around 10.000 DM cheaper. Also very practical with the large tailgate. And it went off really quickly. I'm still crying after that.
    From Bonn to Kiel on a starry night in just under 4 hours including refueling in Stillhorn.
    It had one flaw, and so did most other Capris, as I heard: in the wet and at speeds over 100, it pulled significantly to the left when braking. He tried a lot, but he still stuck with it. But if you knew it, you could adjust to it and nothing ever happened.
    Conclusion: great car, great value for money. Unfortunately won't be coming back.

  • Tom, you always unpack the right cars....LoL.
    My first car was a green Capri II, year 75 with the 1.3l 4-cylinder and 54hp...that was in 1988.
    As a BMX rider, I thought the split-folding backrest was particularly cool and the endlessly long bonnet was impressive, unfortunately the car was anything but sporty with the small engine :)

  • My grandparents' neighbor had a silver metallic Capri; and with cat stairs. But who was that?! In any case, Ford offered a lot back then, as Tom already wrote. Starting with the Fiesta, the Escort, Taunus, Granada and the athlete, the Capri. Taunus and Granada were loadmasters in their class. Until the mid-70s, the design was quite American and...a bit flashy. After that it was very matter-of-fact and sober. Although a lowered Granada with wide tires... well.

    I'm watching a few episodes of “The Professionals” tonight; the adjutants drove a Capri and an Escort, the boss drove a Granada 2.8i Ghia. 🙂

  • Fantastic, my grandpa had a Ford Capri 2600GT XLR from 1972, 125 HP, as a child I was fascinated by the 190 km/h top speed.

    • This brings back memories once again. Great writing!
      As a child I once gave my father perforated driving gloves. He had never had it before (and never again since). But it probably wasn't a lack of money...

      His feigned enthusiasm, which was seen as feigned, really hurt me at the time.

      • Oops, the comment slipped. Shouldn't be an AW, but a separate comment. “Great writing!” referred to the article. Of course it also fits under a good comment 😉

        • I had a 1972 green 1,6l. With 72 hp, it was driven for 6 years and was very satisfied with the rear fenders.


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