Curbside Classic: 1991 Mercury Capri – Birds Of A Feather

Say what you will about Mercury, but they at least tried to make some interesting cars here and there. One of the more interesting cars from The Sign of The Cat was the Capri. Ford noticed that there were a number of buyers that were interested in European cars, and they found a way to get in on the action with a Ford of Europe product.

Introduced to the North American market in April of 1970. It was marketed through Lincoln-Mercury dealers as a sort of mini-Mustang. Initially available only with the British-built Kent 1600 cc inline four, it later received an OHC 2.0L four in 1971.

As the Mustang was getting rather large by the early ’70s, the sprightly Capri earned rave reviews and soon became the second-best selling import car in America, behind the VW Beetle.

By the late 70’s, it was becoming a bit long in the tooth, so the original Capri was discontinued after 1978, although the ’78s were actually unsold ’77s. Lincoln-Mercury didn’t want to give up on the Capri, so in 1979 it became a cousin of the Mustang.

While the second generation did okay, for some reason it was discontinued after 1986. But after a few years passed, Mercury decided to give it another try. Mazda, of all companies, had a smash hit on their hands with the Miata, and Ford wanted a piece of the action. But where to start?

Seeing how they didn’t have a lot of time to develop an all-new car, they turned to Ford of Australia, which just happened to have a little number called the Ford Capri, which, ironically enough, was based loosely on the Mazda 323, which was also what the 1991 Escort was based on!

The biggest difference between the Capri and the Miata was that the Capri had front-wheel-drive, and a tiny back seat.  After a few modifications to get it certified for sale in the U.S., Ford brought it over and sold it as the, you guessed it, Mercury Capri!

The U.S. Capri was offered in two flavors, the base model and the slightly sportier XR-2. Both cars featured a 1.6 liter four cylinder, with the XR-2’s engine coming with a turbocharger. Another big selling point of these cars was the optional removable hard top, as seen above on our featured Capris. Unfortunately, these cars never really caught on with the public, and were quietly discontinued after 1994.

I found these two cars sitting behind a long-abandoned RV dealer near Standish, MI the other day. I have no idea how long they have been there or how they got there. I was going to take pics of the interiors, but they were too far gone to be deemed picture-worthy.

My guess is that whomever acquired these must have really taken a liking to them, as the green one is a base model, and the red one is an XR-2. It’s too bad that they were left here to rot away.

How or why these two cars ended up here is anyone’s guess. They seem kind of lonely, but at least they have each other.