Curbside Classic: 1969-70 Ford Capri – Golden Attraction

Do curbside classics attract each other? Is there any truth to the CC effect? Or is it all just odd coincidences? Whichever the case may be -magical destiny or plain reality- rare vintage cars did seem to appear around my ’68 Beetle in the few occasions it’s been out since the Covid lockdowns.

The first of these lucky meets? An early Ford Capri one late morning in early 2021. When was the last time I had seen one in the open? Was it real or was I suffering from lockdown fever hallucinations?

The lockdowns hadn’t been easy on most, to say the least. A time stuck between dull idleness, hysteria, anxiety and yet more idleness. How to deal with those dead hours? My wife got into Tae-Bo You Tube videos, while toying with Asian recipes. I caught up with Belmondo movies and touched up some long abandoned texts that became part of my COAL series. Meanwhile, my Beetle suffered months without use at my dad’s old house, out of reach due to mobility restrictions. What about the Capri?

As I pulled out my cell phone to take some shots, the Capri’s owner materialized. Could I take some photos? “Sure” was the answer. An accessible and affable young adult, he promptly proceeded to display the car, lowering windows, opening doors and hood. It was time for a bit of Capri-porn, one of Ford’s greatest hits, as previously covered at CC.

The owner was visibly upbeat, understandably so; lockdown fever had done wonders for the Capri, as he took those idle days to get the car in running condition. He seemed pretty well adjusted too, as if the lockdowns hadn’t occurred. ¿Vintage car restoration lockdown-therapy? Don’t really know how much of a good idea that is, but next time a pandemic erupts, I’ll make sure to have a junked car around just to test the concept.

Didn’t get much details on what the Capri’s resurrection entailed. From our brief talk I gathered the owner and a neighbor of his were somewhat mechanically adept; but could tell from the car’s looks there were no plans, nor funding, for a ground-up restoration. The curse of big dreams and middle-class daily realities (Hey, I’ve been there!), in a nation where Capri spare parts are non-existent.

The result is a mixed blessing. On the positive, a lot of original material is still in place, and the ‘creative’ local flourishes are -mostly- under control. And while questionable decisions have been made, none are of permanent nature. On the negative, if you dream of ever seeing this sample looking ‘as new,’ I doubt there’s such a chance under current ownership.

Surprisingly, there’s quite a bit of original trim still in place, the kind of stuff that often gets tossed away or lost in this nation. Also, regardless of the owner’s good intentions, there’s some rust bubbling under that recently applied oh-so-seventies gold lacquer. New paint and no body work? A lug missing on each rim? As mentioned, it’s a ‘trickling-restoration,’ counting each penny, and stretching each utmost.

Not that I’m complaining. I prefer to see this Capri running, in just any condition, than forlorned in a locked garage.

When asked about engine specs, the Capri’s owner either attempted to impress me, or suffered a Freudian slip: “It’s a 6 cyl.” Sure, the unusual ‘4 spark plug – 6 cyl.’ setup Ford must have been toying with only in Central America. On a more serious note, the XLR’s 1600 GT mill carried a’ ferocious’ 82HP from factory, plenty of horses to cause havoc in San Salvador’s traffic back in the day. Around an ocean of Corollas, Sunnys and utilitarian trucks, the Capri certainly was an attention grabbing and sporty choice.

The near-noon sunlight didn’t help matters with the interior shots. A bit of a shambles, but under careful inspection, aside from some missing and ruined upholstery (and the multiple surgical masks), there’s still a lot of original equipment in place.

These were marketed as Fords in the region, and sold by the Keilhauers, the local dealers. As far as I gathered, the Keilhauers seem to be of British origin, and ever linked to transportation as the patriarch had a decisive role in the inception of the Salvadorian railway.

So, do curbside classics attract each other? Maybe, maybe not. After the Capri sighting, my Beetle stayed mostly indoors these past odd pandemic years. I finally took it for a much needed tune up this past December, only to come across an early Opel Kadett in traffic. Then, while driving it back to its garage, I ran across an early ’70s Toyota Carina, once again in traffic (no luck catching up that time). I’m back to my daily driver, a ’96 Golf, which is pretty much vintage now… So, when will it start attracting vintage metal to its side?

More on the Capri:

Carshow Classic: 1969 Ford Capri – The European Mustang Ford Always Promised Itself.