This high-revving Mercury Cosworth Capri is a true one-of-one

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You could argue that the box-flared Mercury Capri wasn’t the best-looking Fox-body coupe, but you’d be wrong. While the run-of-the-mill Mustang has become a familiar sight at cars shows, drag strips, and road courses since its introduction more than 40 years ago, spotting a four-eyed Capri and its signature fenders makes for a special occasion.

Just a single example of the Mercury Cosworth Capri was built in 1980 to test the viability of a small performance engine that could meet emissions regulations. It uses a 1.6-liter Cosworth BDD four-cylinder fed by twin Weber carbs to produce 186 high-revving horsepower. The dry-sump mill is similar to the racing heart of a Formula Atlantic open-wheel car, detuned slightly for improved street manners.

Still, its performance was impressive by 1980 standards, although I’ll admit that there’s quite a bit of real estate under the hood around that tiny engine. I’m just so used to seeing that engine bay filled with a 5.0-liter V-8, as pleases the engine gods. For the record, the 5.0-liter, introduced in 1982 with 157 horsepower, didn’t beat the Cosworth’s output until 1985 and the later ASC McLaren Capri models that did make it to production didn’t bring any kind of added engine performance.

1980 Mercury Cosworth Capri engine
1980 Mercury Cosworth Capri interior

1980 Mercury Cosworth Capri profile

Inside, aggressively bolstered Recaro seats, heated of course, and racy Stewart Warner gauges set this apart from your average Capri, but it’s the one-off custom steel bodywork by the late Ron Fournier that really grabs my attention. The Capri’s flared fenders were widened and a brake cooling duct was recessed into the rear flares and extends into the doors. The extra width makes room for three-piece BBS wheels and 255/60R15 Firestone Firehawk SS tires.

On January 11, this most desirable of all Fox Capris is going up for auction at Mecum’s Kissimmee event. Even with fewer than 500 miles on the car, I was surprised to learn that those are the original tires from 1980. If you plan on dumping the clutch on the ZF five-speed manual, you may want to consider some fresh rubber. Reserve the vintage Firehawks and BBS wheels for beauty shots.

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