Saturday, November 5, 2016

A fox dressing up like a Cougar

First of all this represents the first time I was run off of someones property for snapping some pics of languishing cars! I've been asked to not take pics and move along please while standing on city streets (and I do for that matter as there are plenty of cars out there) but this guy came running across the street yelling and screaming. For a moment I thought he was going to take a swing at me! He cooled off eventually as I insisted that I meant no harm and wasn't touching anything. He asked that I not post where the cars were (or put them online but I didn't agree to that). This "private property" is literally the 20 foot stretch of ground between the curb and what looked to be a defunct used car office with no signs or chains warning the curious. Without further ado:
This scaly misbegotten wreck is a 1979-1982 Mercury Capri in Dark Blue Poly. This is the mostly forgotten upscale cousin to the Fox Body Mustangs of the '80s. As with most of their shared products from the '70s onward the Mercury is just a touch classier and more well appointed than the Ford.
I think the front looks great with its horizontal bar grill and upright headlight pods. The Mustang of this era had a slanted front and an eggcrate grill.
The paint on the hood is revealing the beginnings of the universe as the clear coat peels away. In 2016 paint has pretty much been perfected. Sure your car can rust out from beneath but this sort of horrific surrender is the hallmark of cars built from about '79-'99. The reason behind this is that EPA regulations made certain old style paint chemicals illegal so the automakers had to comply with more eco-friendly products. Unfortunately the learning curve with these new paints was steep. The problem was so bad that for a brief time Ford agreed to repaint any F-150 trucks of the era. Overwhelmed by demand they cancelled it quick and just covered their ears.
We can see some mid-'80s Ford Mustang wheels on this ride. The fender flares are Capri-specific which I think is a shame as they look fantastic. Subtle details make this a very different car than the Mustang.
Here is the easiest way to see that this Capri is from '79-'82: the hatchback has a flat rear window that looks pretty standard. From 1983 on they had a large bubble window that was very distinctive. In concert with the rear bubble window the taillights from '83 on were recessed a bit into the rear panel.
Dig the horizontal bars on the rear lights giving continuity to the overall design with the grill in the front.
Interior looks pretty basic from here; auto trans with that puny Ford T-handle shifter, sporty steering wheel that first heralded from the Mustang II, no optional console, and no A/C (there would be an upright rectangular vent between the heater controls and the gauges). As you can just glimpse here the rear seat folds flat offering up decent storage space.
Like the Mustang these could be ordered with any number of drivetrain combinations from a small 4 cylinder in regular and turbo form, inline and V 6 cylinders, and large 5.0 V8s in varying levels of output.
I have a friend who had one of these in high school that was black '83 with heavily tinted windows, the V8, and a 5-speed. The car was fun to drive for sure. I seem to remember all the gauges lighting up orange at night.
Well there you have it; a gentlemans Mustang with tons of available parts that's uncommon enough to make people stop and ask questions. If you want a reliable classic that's totally usable in everyday traffic but more unique that the standard 5.0 Vanilla Ice was so proud of this is a good bet. If you want TRULY rare try to hunt down a Mercury LN7 - their 2 seat version of the Ford EXP with a bubble back window like the '83-'86 Capri. I have never seen one in person!

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