Mike R 1972 Mercury Capri 2dr Coupe

1972 Capri: From faded to Sexy once again

I have always wanted a Capri since I saw a commercial for the "Sexy European" when I was 12, I told my parents that I would have one someday. I bought my first Capri in 1976 when I was in high school; a Brown 1972 2600 V6 with 59,000 miles on it from Townsend Lincoln Mercury in San Diego. I had that Capri until 1982 when I sold it. It was 1996 when I saw a 1974 Capri 2800 for sale and I bought it. I was under the Sexy Europeans spell again, just like when I was 12. I have owned seven Capri's over the years and have done several restorations but when I received an email about the car from a lady named Bridget to ask if I was interested in purchasing her late fathers Capri, at first I was going to pass since I already had three Capri's but because it was a 1972 Brown unmolested original one owner, with 93,000 original documented miles on it, I couldn't pass it up. On January 11, 2011 I drove over to Hesperia California and saw the car in person, from a distance it looked OK but on closer inspection it was apparent that it suffered years of wear and tear; the interior was in poor condition, driver seat was torn, dash was cracked with bad repairs, turn signal switch was broken, the front and rear bumpers were bent from improper towing, there were dents in the body and damage to the front right fender from an accident but for a car of its age, it was all there, it started and drove and it was all original down to the dealer installed AM/FM radio! I purchased the car for $2,000.00 then loaded it on my trailer for its new home in Phoenix. Once I got the car home I went through all the documents that came with the car. This 1972 Capri 2000 was purchased for $2,671.80 on September 16, 1972 from Narducci Lincoln Mercury (Now closed) in West Covina, California by William Cagan of Chino, California. It had always been a California car and only driven locally. Mr. Cagan kept every repair receipt and license registration back to the day he drove it off the lot. I decided that this Capri was going to undergo a total restoration to make it look as close to how it would have at Narducci Lincoln Mercury in 1972.

I started the restoration in March 2011 and stripped the car down over the next few months to a rolling shell, taking inventory of what I needed to replace or fix and cataloged parts. I pulled the engine in October 2011 and took it in for bodywork and paint in December 2011, with the original paint code we were able to match the color as close as possible. When the car was stripped to metal it revealed rust in the left rear wheel arch as well as previous repairs that needed to be fixed. I sourced repair panels for the UK and the left arch was replaced as well as fixing the dent in the right front fender and other issues. The engine, even though it had 93,000 original miles on it, was in sad shape, it smoked from worn valve guides due to unleaded fuel, the brake booster had a vacuum leak, as well as a hole caused by corrosion in the intake manifold. After I pulled the engine I sent it off for a rebuild by Engine House in Phoenix. The transmission had a bad synchro from 3rd to 2nd, so I sent both the transmission and brake booster off to Team Blitz in Columbus, Ohio for a rebuild.

When I got the car back from paint and body in February 2012, I pulled the suspension and rear end. Cleaned and re sprayed undercoating. I had ordered Fichtel and Sachs struts, rocker panel trim, gas sender unit, poly urethane bushings, new fender badges, brake booster hose, hood rubber bumpers and other parts from Motomobil in Germany. Team Blitz in Ohio provided NOS Ford exhaust system, braided brake lines, new stock front coil springs, rubber and chrome trim for the windshield and rear window and interior trim that needed to be replaced. I purchased new door cards from Aldridge trimmings in the UK and sourced other parts from various suppliers in the UK, Germany, Poland and Australia. All of the bright work was stripped and polished by Russell's custom polish in Mesa, Arizona. The gas tank and radiator was cleaned professionally. The bumpers were straightened and re chromed by Metro plating in Mesa. I sourced NOS tail lights from the UK and NOS turn signal (an extremely rare find) from Germany, both purchases were expensive but necessary for the restoration.

I had new metal brake lines made by Arizona Tubes and Hoses and the rear axle refreshed by Arizona Driveshaft. The wheels were bead blasted and repainted to original, the rear leaf springs were in good condition and refreshed by Dunbar Spring in Phoenix. When I took the original struts out of the front suspension assembly they literally fell apart! I replaced the struts with Fichal and Sachs struts I got from Motomobil and installed the Team Blitz springs onto the assembly and put them back in. The sway bar, new steering rack and components were also installed. The refreshed axle, rear leafs, control arms and shocks were installed, I used new poly urethane bushings throughout, replacing old rubber bushings. Once I had the suspension complete, the rebuilt booster, new master cylinder, new brake lines, brakes, emergency brake cable and fuel line were installed. The engine and transmission went in next, followed by the NOS exhaust then the engine was outfitted and the compartment was detailed using original wire loom that was re-taped, proper stays and decals. The interior was reupholstered by Urbina Custom Upholstery in Mesa, I chose a vinyl called cinnamon as it was the closest match to the original parchment color. The carpet is original and only needed cleaning. The rear cardboard package shelf was also in amazing shape, not a crack in it after 40+ years, so all it needed was a re spray. The dash was sent out to Dashboard Restoration USA in Washington State, it took over 6 months to get it back but it came out good. The faux wood grain on the instrument cluster bezel needed to be fixed and I was able to source correct wood grain vinyl from Australia. All the glass is original as is the headliner which is in excellent condition.

Once the car was all together, I started it up for the first time on April 23, 2014. I had a few issues with the carburetor that had been rebuilt, so after tweaking and not getting the engine to run as smooth as I wanted, I decided to replace it with another Motorcraft 5200 which fixed the problems. I spent the summer tweaking things here and there, then I had the car "dialed in" at Chucks Custom Performance in Phoenix. It took over three years and $19,885.00 to bring my Capri "back to life" but it was well worth it to me. Its sexy. The timeless design and look still turns heads!

Early 1970-1972 MK1 Capri's are VERY rare and hard to find in good condition. This Capri was an original, one owner car with documented history. It just needed to be brought back to its former glory. The most difficult part of the restoration was waiting on parts, it would sometimes delay my work by months! The "prefacelift"1970-72 is really rare and some parts are hard to find but if you are diligent it can be done, just be prepared to pay for it. The 73-74 might be a better route to go, the parts are easier to get from suppliers like Team Blitz in the US or Motomobil in Germany.

I currently own one other Capri; a 1973 that is undergoing restoration and modification. There is a car club for that 1970-77 Capri's: Capri Club North America (www.capriclub.com).

4 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Bert North Carolina July 9, 2015 at 11:25
    Purchased a '72 capri in 1974 when gas shortages were making a 60 mile round trip to work difficult. My 390 cyclone was "only" getting 20mpg. Some times, when cars are built...magic happens. That was the story of this car--an actual freak of nature. I was in to drag racing, and this little beast never let me down. I beat 289 mustangs, a chrysler 300 with a 440, and an arrogant roommate with a 240Z. It was also a brown car, and the hair on my neck stood up when I saw this article/pic. Lots of great memories...lots of war stories. Keep 'em running!
  • 2
    Robert Chandler AZ October 26, 2015 at 08:07
    Capripartsusa.com has been selling Capris and new and used parts for years. Go to the web site and see V8 conversions and tons of racing parts. Good job on the restoration. Thanks Robert
  • 3
    Ernest Guzman San Antonio, TX December 25, 2015 at 00:00
    This is the car (in this color) that got me through college, start to finish ... Man, I wish I still had it!
  • 4
    RB Southern. Calif. July 12, 2016 at 23:00
    had a 74 Capri, rootbeer/brown. Got me through college and then some. 200,000+ miles U.S., Wished they still made them like that, especially liked the Capri II hatchback.

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