Cohort Classic: 1984-1986 Mercury Capri RS 5.0 “Bubble Back”

Mercury Capri RS r

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a bubble back Capri; that probably explains why they stopped making them after 1986 due to mediocre sales. It was a questionable strategy to badge-engineer the new 1979 Fox-body Mustang into a Capri, but I guess they figured, “If Pontiac could do it with the Firebird, then why not us?” Of course, the original Capri came from Germany and was a surprisingly big hit in its day. But this is Mercury, after all, and badge-engineering Fords wasn’t exactly a viable long-term strategy, eh? Foden Alpha shot this example as it was about to be hauled away on a trailer toward an uncertain future: Restoration? Drag car? Crusher?

Mercury Capri RS f

The bubble back, which didn’t arrive until 1983, was an attempt to make the Capri look just a wee bit less Mustang-like; certainly, one had to be a bit more on the ball to tell them apart in front. Mechanically they were very much the same, excepting a few variations and such special editions as the “Black Magic” and “White Lightning” Capris from 1981-1983.

Mercury caapri mclaren

The Capri’s most ambitious creative effort came during its last three years with the ASC McLaren conversions of 1984-1986. In addition to the many visual changes, the 5.0 HP sported a more ambitious Ford Motorsports camshaft and an output upped to well above the stock 200 hp.

Mercury Capri McLaren conv 1984

An even more ambitious undertaking of the ASC McLaren project was the convertible, which was transformed into a two-seater that sported a windshield raked back by ten degrees. Doing all that took a lot of work, and one has to wonder if it was worth it; in any case, these are rare collectibles today.

The Capri story petered out after the 1986 model year. Since the Mustang was updated and refreshed considerably for 1987, apparently the additional cost of doing all those things to the Capri wasn’t justified. My encyclopedia doesn’t give production numbers for these Capris, but we can assume they were modest at best. But the Capri name wasn’t finished yet…

Mercury Capri RS side