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1986 Capri

Overall rating:  Product Rating: 4.0

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Mercury's version of the Mustang 5.0.

by shoplmart:      Jan 27, 2002 - Updated Dec 30, 2004

Product Rating: 4.0 Recommended: Yes 

Pros: Strong acceleration, Decent interior, Fair gas mileage, Good price.
Cons: Exterior, only offered as a hatchback.
The Bottom Line: If you can get past the looks,this is one fast/fun automobile that is recommended for any muscle car enthusiast.Also Capri's are becoming quite rare, so grab them while you can.

Reborn in 1979, the Mustang was not the only car in Ford's muscle car line-up. Almost invisible, the Capri 5.0 liter offered all the performance attributes of its popular brother, but in a somewhat more refined yet unappealing package. The Capri was only offered in a hatchback, and by the time it landed itself in an early grave in 1986, it had become one of the quickest GT cars in its class.

Driving Impressions:

If you are familiar with the feel of a 1986 Mustang GT, than you know exactly what the Capri feels like on the road. Acceleration is very strong, burnouts are possible at only partial throttle. The steering may feel a little dead, but with the Capri 5.0 liter its all about throttle control. The T-5 shifter is very precise for a mass market Detroiter, and the 5.0 OHV engine has an almost endless supply of torque and power; 200 HP for 1986. The torque is very satisfying (285 lb-ft @ 3,000 RPM.)

While Cruising at highway speeds there is a little groan from the engine, but these cars were not made to be whisper quiet. The exhaust emits a husky note that American muscle car enthusiasts will enjoy throughout the gear range. The Capri 5.0 comes with a Borg warner T5 5-speed manual transmission that offers plenty of power in all gears. This power matched with the Capri's weight makes light work of steep hills, and off-the-line acceleration.

Handling is a little above average for this year. Big Gatorback tires give excellent traction and grip, but like most muscle cars of the 1960s, the 1986 Capri is still easy to induce controlled oversteer, this is guaranteed to please.

Braking is fair, with discs up front, and drums in the rear. A 4-wheel disc set-up would be much more desirable.

About this engine: Capri's could be optioned with a 302 cubic inch V8 in 1979, but it was not until 1982 tell this engine really got some power. A veteran from 1967, the small block, cast iron Windsor underwent a decent power boost to 157 HP, with a special camshaft, and low restriction exhaust. The following year 1983 the Capri was rated at 175 HP, thanks to the addition of four barrel carburator. In 1985, a higher lift camshaft and roller lifters, resulted in 210 HP (this was the last year for the holly carburators). In 1986, received flat-top pistons and high swirl combustion heads, plus sequential multiport fuel injection, somewhat ironically giving less horse power than its 1985 predecessor at 200 HP.

The 1986 Mercury Capri rides on the same platform as the Mustang. Better known as the 'FOX' platform. Capri's have gas filled shocks, front and rear Anti roll bars.

Interior Accommodation:

Fitted with cloth seats, my test car's interior was quite comfortable. Now going on 17 years of age, this 1986 Capri had wore quite well. With over 120,000 miles on the vehicle, the original cloth seats were still intact, completely. The dash is everything you would expect from a 1980s car's dash. Dressed in stark black plastic, and filled with a multitude of '80s styled gauges, all useful, which includes a tachometer. Ergonomics are very good, including the relatively short throw 5-speed manual gear shifter which is very easy to use. This Capri 5.0 had power everything, including cruise control, and a semi thick steering wheel. Like in the Mustang, the rear passengers will be cramped, but the front has plenty of room. The drivers position allows for adequate rear and front outward vision .

Exterior Innovation:

There is only 1 body style for the Capri. Although the Mustang was available as a two door notchback, the Capri was only produced as a hatchback. This factor, plus the bulging fenders, and bulbous back window contributed to a decline in sales in the 1980s, and this dated look all conspired to an early demise for Mercury's pony car in 1986. The Capri came back for a few years in the 1990s, however was nothing like its predecessor.

The price in 1986 ran close to $11,000. Today you won't pay even close to that. I have seen 5.0 Capri's in the paper for as low as 1,000 dollars with the claim that "it runs great." My test car was also for sale, for $2,000, with just over 120,000 miles. I actually would have bought it, and with all respect for this car, the 1986 Capri has a style that is just too hard for me to swallow, so I passed.

The 5.0 liter Mustang engine's have always been pretty reliable, I don't think the 5.0 in the Capri is any exception. I, however have not owned this vehicle so I will not give a personal comment on reliability.


If you are looking for the ultimate bang for your buck then the Capri is definitely worth a look. The Capri offers amazing performance attributes for a 1980s car, and is easy enough to drive for beginners. The interior/exterior may be a bit dated today, however this car is still recommended 100% to anyone wanting to get into a cheap muscle car/ first car.

Other Cars To Consider:

1. Ford Mustang
2. Chevrolet Camaro
3. Dodge Daytona
4. Buick GN
5. Nissan 300ZX
6. Toyota Supra
7. Toyota Celica
8. Honda Prelude
9. Chevrolet Corvette
10. BMW 3 Series

-Happy Car Shopping

Amount Paid (US$): 3,000
Model Year: 1986
Model and Options: Carpi 5.0, 5 speed manual Transmission
Product Rating: 4.0
Recommended: Yes 
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