It’s easy to forget what an impact the Capri made in the US, never mind the huge one in Europe. It filled a perfect hole, an affordable European sporty coupe that both the general public and genuine enthusiasts embraced. The Capri quickly jumped to the #2 selling import in 1969, ousting the Opel Kadett. It offered lively performance (with the 2.0 L four), crisp handling and a quality feel. But Ford was ready to up the ante in 1972, with a 2.6 L Cologne 60 degree V6. The result was more of the same.
It’s interesting to note that R&T had very limited experience with V6 engines, given how utterly ubiquitous they would become. But other than the rough-running 90 degree Buick used for a couple of years in the Special in the early ’60s, and a few exotics, there were no popular V6s, so the Capri’s was essentially America’s introduction to the genre. A development of the Cologne V4, it was remarkably compact, and R&T called it “a jewel”, with “a delightful exhaust note.”
It wasn’t all that much faster than the 2.0 L four, but its refinement and other pleasures made it well worth it. “Our enthusiasm for this engine is almost unbounded”.
The fact that the Capri, which was really just an amalgamation of existing European Ford parts/chassis/engine/etc. in a new body configuration, in the same way the American Mustang was a Falcon under the skin, and yet fostered so much approval and enthusiasm, shows how relatively low the American bar was in terms of small cars at the time. The Capri was simply a significantly better coupe than a Vega, Pinto, or Maverick. And it was a better 1965 Mustang, at that. There’s zero doubt in my mind that the big success of the Capri resulted in the similarly-compact Mustang II, although it came out much more bloated and decidedly lacking in exactly the charms that made the Capri such a delight.