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What’s Your Eleanor: Waiting For the Third Time

Tim Odell February 18, 2010 Friends of Hooniverse, Submission Thursday 20 Comments

European Ford Capri

In this installment of our on-when-we-feel-like-it-and-you-guys-send-us-something-good Submission Thursday, friend of Hooniverse and all-around cool Czech guy Bobash gives us an Eastern European take on his Eleanor, one that he’s let get away too many times.

If you ask me about my dream car for three succesive weeks, you’ll probably get at least five different answers. Today, I may lust for my friends‘ 1996 Impala SS, which I admire and want since he first mentioned selling it few years ago. But I never have the cash. Two days ago, it was a Chrysler 300 Hurst that got away from me year and a half ago. And tomorrow? Probably another in the long line of old Mopars, interspersed maybe with lust for the new Mustang, X308 XJR Jag or something totally different. I even considered buying a Ford Mondeo ST220 a while ago.

But my Eleanor has to be the car I loved since my early highschool years, the unicorn I nearly caught twice but always let get away. It’s the car that, I’m sure, will eventually come for the third time. It’s nothing outlandishly exotic. Just a mere Ford Capri.

European Ford Capri

When I was around 14 years old, my focus started to turn from airplanes back to cars (I was a total car nut at age of five, but then the planes prevailed). I was naturally inclined to British car from the beginning, but slowly I began to notice the existence of something called a “muscle car”. And I started to love it. I don’t know why or how, as there were just about none in my country (Czech Republic) at the time for me to see. I just loved them.

European Ford Capri

Naturally, I knew (or I thought) it was impossible for me to get a Mustang, a Camaro or a Charger at the time. The dollar was high, getting plates for old imported cars nearly impossible and the prices seemed to be so high I could never even think about it. So I found myself a substitute: old European Fords. They were cheap enough for a young kid to at least think about getting one; they had engines that I could think of feeding and they were nearly as sexy. The best of them, as remembered from famous “The Proffesionals“ TV series, was the Ford Capri.

When I started to roam the internet, I found a website of a “Fordever club“, a party of people loving these old beasts. There I found the car which followed me through many following years, which I still consider one of the coolest looking Capris I’ve ever seen. At that time, it was a dark green MkIII Capri with chromed bumpers, grille and rear lights from a MkII, and it was powered by 114hp 2.3 V6. Since that time (maybe ten years now), it got a 200hp Essex three-liter six, X-pack bodykit, wider wheels and many more upgrades. Some people say the bodykit ruined it, but I think it looks absolutely gorgeous.

Since then, I started thinking up my own visions of custom Capris. I went through loving all three generations, with probably all the possible engines that had six or more cylinders. One of the first ideas, which I’m now a little embarassed about, was building an actual Eleanor clone, with lights in the middle of the bumper and all. But I soon got to know better and such ideas were tossed away, together with flamed paintjobs, sidepipes or hood scoops. A few more, much more tasteful dreams came, like RS2600 or RS3100 replicas, or various Turbo versions.

European Ford Capri

Then, during my first years of college and about a year or two after selling my first old Ford, a ratty and rusty Cortina, I found a Capri for 15,000 CZK. That was maybe half the going rate at the time, about 500 US dollars. I took all my money, borrowed some more and went for it. It had a terrible two tone red/yellow paint job, brown interior, four-cylinder 2.0 engine and it was shit. It didn’t brake, it was rusty as hell, but it was the Capri I could afford. I bought it, drove it some 150 miles home, then drove it some more. Finally, I took it to a body guy to have the underside fixed. What I knew was, the point where rear leaf springs were attached to the body was nearly rusted off. What I didn’t know was that the first sound piece of metal from which you could start any repairs was about foot behind the front wheel. That meant more than the purchase price just in bodywork, and that meant I couldn’t afford it. So, with some sadness, I sold it for a little more than I bought it, and I purchased a 1969 Simca 1301 which was also ratty, but kept together and was sort of driveable (if you didn’t mind pumping the clutch 10 times before you could shift a gear).

European Ford Capri

I went to see another Capri some time later, after I found a good job besides college and could afford a nicer one. It turned out to be just a perfumed pig and instead I ended up adding two more letters: getting a Caprice, which was probably best car I ever owned – but that’s another story. After some more time, the itch for something small and nimble returned. A friend of mine had a gold MkIII Capri, just like the one Bodie from Proffesionals drove, and he had another one in the garage. The second car was a project, partially disasembled and with anemic 2.0 V6. I could have it cheap with the promise that we’ll finish it together, and it had a wonderful combination of dark gray paint and black vinyl top.

European Ford Capri

But as it happens if you consider someone a friend good enough to pay him in advance, the progress on the car got slower and slower, with my friend was giving me more and more excuses. In the end, I backed away. I’ve never seen that Capri again, and I’ve never even seen another in the same color combination. The whole saga left me with headache from having to get my money back. Still, I’d made the decision that some time, I’ll buy a third Capri, and I will finish it.

European Ford Capri

It’s been nearly four years now and the time hasn’t come. Yet. I already know the next one will be powered by a small block Ford, either a replica of the Capri Perana, or more likely of the MkIII based German muscle car, the Mako Capri. One day, I’ll catch my Eleanor. And this time, I won’t release it.

European Ford Capri

Image Sources: capriman.galerie.cz; capri.fordever.cz

  • Hans Heyer and I fully support your Capri-mania!
    <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3292/3152038234_e41898acd2_o.jpg"&gt;

    • BobAsh

      A guy from CZ (in fact from the same city and same club as the one who owns that green wide-bodies monster) is building a race Capri MkI, just like this one… totally awesome thing…

  • Mad_Science Sr.

    When I was in college, 1974 – 1978, most of us were driving 4 cylinder econoboxes or Volks bugs. I had a '65 bug for 2 years of college, followed by a '74 Datsun 1200. But the Capri was something to lust for. It had a 2.6 liter (as I recall) six cylinder engine, and sharp lines. To make it a true Eleanor, it would have to have a set of black aluminum louvers on the rear window. One of my mechanical engineering buddies had a Capri and made his on louvers as a project.

    • You recall correctly. In the US, the biggest engine option was a 2.6 liter V6 (in Europe, they got the 3.0 Essex V6). Of course, if you're putting louvers on the rear window of your Capri, then you have to consider the ultra rare Capri Perana (with a 302 V8).
      http://hooniverse.com/blog/2009/12/11/south-afric

      • We got the 2.6 and EU got 3.0??? Wow! Probably the only time that happened!

        • BobAsh

          You probably got only the German built cars – 3.0 Essex was British engine and Capri was one of the last Fords to differ between UK and DE production. Funny thing is, we didn't get 2.6 regularly, just in the form of "hot" RS2600 version. But later we did get a 2.8i, with 160hp the fastest stock Capri.

          Although it's still nothing compared to my beloved Perana and Mako 🙂

  • I agree completely with your sentiments, Bobash. A first generation Capri, once all too plentiful, has been on my Eleanor list for years. I actually fear finding one at the moment, because I just promised my wife I'd unload something before buying something else.

    My question to you… is it better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all?

    • BobAsh

      I would say it's better to have at least tried it. Both my Capris were unfinished, not very driveable projects, so they don't really count. But when it comes to my second Eleanor, Mopar muscle cars (exact preference changes from day to day, but mostly B-bodies), I can say that after briefly owning a very project-like '68 Coronet with 318 and fairly driveable '67 Coronet 500, also a 318, my lust for two door B-body diminished somehow. I still love them and I still want one, but I'm starting to think that they're not THAT cool to pay $10k for one, and that there are many cheaper cars that are much cooler. Like early 70s four-door B-bodies, or early 60s wagons, or C-bodies…

      But maybe it's just that I realised how much it would cost me, and I grew up a little 🙂

  • Excellent article! This has all the makings of a guys version of a chick-flick; love and loss sprinkled liberally with lust and passion. I sincerely hope that your Eleanor finds you soon.

  • My inner Chav loves the MkIII Capri, and it's been put on the list of cars Maymar wants to import, just because.

  • A Capri is certainly a lustworthy car. Maybe it's just because we didn't see very many of them in our part of the globe, and in my particular spot on the globe any Capri that was new is now a pile of rust or a new refrigerator. Keep the faith, my friend. Hope is what keeps us going.

  • I am running an article on the Capri this weekend, as it happens…

    The Capri actually sold in pretty large numbers in the U.S., but it never had the kind of emotional impact it did elsewhere, particularly in the UK. The final Mk III 2.8i, in particular, is sort of the British equivalent of the Fox-body Mustang.

    • Does that mean the guys from The Streets drive them?

      • It was heavily featured on The Professionals, England's answer to Starsky & Hutch.

  • I've always liked Capris. They're just nice, clean, classy little cars, and I'd love to have one. But, here's a question. Way back in the early 80's, when I was stationed in Italy, on the lemon lot (where GI's would sell their cars when they left the country) was something that looked like a '69 Torino that had been shrunk in the wash. It was of course a German Ford, I remember it being slightly larger than a Capri. I popped the hood and the engine looked like a hot-rodded Pinto engine. Even though the thing intrigued me, I bought a beater '65 Chevy Malibu for $600.00, the only one I ever saw in Northern Italy. What the hell was that Ford thing? I still don't know, I'm no authority on German Fords. Once again, I swear to God it looked like a mini Torino. Cool car.

    • BobAsh

      I guess it was this one:
      http://www.dragtimes.com/images/17840-1971-Ford-T
      1970-1976 Ford Taunus in it's fastback variant. It was made with either four-cylinders (1.3, 1.6 and 2.0 liters, same as Capri), or six-cylinders (2.0 and 2.3).
      I always loved this one, but never came across a nice fastback in good shape (or I did, once, when I had no cash). But I had this generation of Taunus as a wagon.

      • That's it! The one I saw was blue, but see what I mean? Looks like a little Torino.

        When I was over there, I met a German guy at the beach (Lido di Jesolo) who had a real nice Opel, I think a Diplomat, the big one. It looked like a '68 Cadillac, but once again, smaller (obviously. Everything was). It sported a 327. Once again, a German car which reminded me of a much larger American car. Very cool, in my book.

        • BobAsh

          Well, the KAD (Kapitän, Admiral, Diplomat) Opels are my new love and it's quite possible you'll read about them here in a short time 😉 Although I prefer the older ones, the ones that look more like an old Buick or Impala.

        • Cadillac seriously considered turning the Diplomat B into the first Cadillac Seville. The reason it didn't happen is that Opel used much tighter build tolerances than Fisher Body did, and when Fisher saw the specs, they said, "We can't build that on any of our existing lines." (That's why the Seville ended up being based on the X-body Nova instead.)

          The Diplomat 5,4 was a hard sell in Europe. It was monstrously expensive to run (taxable horsepower rules tended to make big-displacement engines prohibitively expensive) and cost a lot to feed. It pushed the Diplomat into the same cost-of-ownership territory as an S-Class Mercedes, at which point buyers balked at the Opel badge.

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