CAPRI BUYERS GUIDE
The Capri's construction is incredibly simple, almost to the point of being crude in some areas. But that doesn't stop it being prone to rot, it just makes it easier to fix. Or at least it would if panels were easy to come by, but in many cases they're not. But rust isn't the only enemy of the Capri. Accident damage is a strong possibility, with the newest Capri now 15 years old and probably a string of owners listed on the V5. The 3.0-
The most likely area for rust to be lurking is in the front wings, so check for filler in the area around the headlamps and along the edge that meets the front doors. The wings are welded on and original ones are very hard to track down -
The doors themselves also corrode, the worst areas being the bottom edge and the underside -
Most of the outer panels are pretty hardy but they're not completely immune to rust. Tailgates corrode along the inner bottom edge and the rear wings sometimes rot just behind the rear wheel arches. The rear arches themselves are a notorious rot area and are generally far worse underneath than on the surface. Boot floors can also rust and so can the metal around the rear light clusters. Because the 2.8i was fitted with bonded-
There were four different types of engine fitted to the Mk III Capri. Least desirable and virtually extinct is the Kent unit, used for the 1.3-
Pinto engines also have an oil spray-
Another weak point on the Essex V6 is the fibre timing gear, which can break up after high mileages or following overheating. If the car you're looking at has had steel replacements you're lucky, but as they cost around £200 many owners don't fit them. It's also worth doing a compression test, as blown head gaskets and warped cylinder heads aren't unheard of. Look for 120psi per cylinder on a good engine.
Corrosion in the water jacket is a common Essex ailment, which is why you need to check the condition of the coolant. Each year the system should be flushed through and the coolant replaced (but many owners don't bother). The Cologne unit suffers from the same problems as the Essex, especially silted up water jackets. The injection system is normally reliable, but early problems on these fuel injected cars generally stemmed from the engine's wiring loom. Due to its position under the wheel arch, the fuel pump often corrodes and the casing becomes porous -
Four or five-
Whichever gearbox is fitted there's a good chance that second gear will be worn, so listen to see whether it's significantly noisier than any of the other ratios. The bushes wear, leading to a sloppy gear change, and the bearings also wear after 70,000 miles or so, leading to a noisy transmission. If there's significant bearing noise you've got no more than 5000 miles before the gearbox gives up altogether. As if all this isn't enough Capris have a tendency to jump out of gear on the over-
The diff itself is pretty resilient, but ask whether its oil has been replaced regularly. Every 20,000 miles or two years is ideal. A special lubricant (available from Capri Club International) was specified for the 2.8i Special and 280 Brooklands, which were fitted with an LSD -
If the model you're looking at should have been fitted with a limited-
STEERING & SUSPENSION
The steering is pretty reliable so it's just a case of checking for play and making sure the gaiters aren't damaged. The only exception to this is the rubber joint in the flexible steering coupling. If allowed to get soaked in oil it will split, leading to play in the steering. The 2.8i. and 3.0-
The front suspension is equally reliable, so it's just a question of making the standard checks for worn dampers by doing a bounce test at each corner. The only other possible fault is that the bushes in the inner track control arm anchorage have broken up, leading to a shudder through the steering as the car goes over bumps. Replacing just the bushes is quite tricky so many owners replace the whole track control arms (TCA) complete at around £35 a pair. But nobody is selling the arms already fitted with polyurethane bushes, which are worth fitting. It the car has been lowered it's worth buying adjustable TCAs to cope with the changes, but at around £200 a pair most owners stick with the standard ones.
The rear suspension doesn't give many problems, but if the car is sagging on one side it's because one of the leaf spring has worn and the leaves may even be cracked.
WHEELS & BRAKES
Apart from the 101 Tickfords built, all Capris had a disc/drum braking system. The-
Non of the different types of trim fitted to the Capri was particularly durable, with the predictable exception of the leather fitted to the 280 Brooklands and the half-
The fuse box suffers poor connections: if electrical gremlins strike check this first. Connection problems also affect the rear wash/wipe because the tailgate contacts corrode. Fine emery paper is normally all that's needed to get it working again.
Heater motors often seize if left unused for a period, so keep it active. It the motor seizes try starting the motor on high speed as the extra current has more chance of getting the fan in motion -
Cars with fuel injection often suffer from misfiring because of faulty sensors and poor connections in the wiring loom. If you're looking at an automatic car that won't even try to turn over its engine it could be because the inhibitor switch fitted to the nearside of the gearbox has failed.
Years ago the Capri was the type of car that you'd have to be very wary of buying because they were invariably thrashed to within an inch of their lives. But the market has changed and most of the cars left are now in the hands of owners who cherish them. But with the Capri being such an easy car to steal, make sure that the example you're looking at really does belong to the person waiting to take your money. It may be crude and unrefined in places, but in 2.8i mode especially the Capri offers a hell of a lot of car for the money.
Front valance and Headlamps need
checking for damage
Rear arches are even more prone to rot than the fronts
Front wheel arches rot so make sure inner protective guards are in place
Heavy doors, hinge pin wear & A post rot conspire to cause the doors to drop
Rear edge of the tailgate corrodes and
may get hidden by the rear spoiler
Tailgate hinge mountings can rust badly and are difficult to repair....
....as is the fuel filler cap and its surrounding area
Spare wheel well retains water unless bungs are removed
Have a quick look for rot on the strut top and joint between inner and outer wings
Remove radiator cap to check the state of the coolant, which is crucial on the V6 cars
Track control arm bushes are probably worn. Polyurethane bushes are available
Check for water under the footwell carpets. If present floorpans are probably rotten
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Last updated 26/10/21
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