Friday, April 24, 2015

Requiem for a Mercury Capri

It's April again in Minnesota; time for the aging car guys to jump start their aging ,arthritic bodies and get their aging, classic cars out of storage. It's an old guys "right of spring" and I am eligible; old guy, owner of  '91 Mercury Capri.

Every spring I call Dennis at the County Fairgrounds to arrange to take my little beauty out of mothballs. My fear face is apparent to Dennis when I show up given my total lack of mechanical ability. My fright heightens and my sphincter tightens!! "Will it start"? "Will this be the spring I cry and grovel on the gravel garage floor begging for help getting my precious started?"

Even if I get it going, then what? Due to Mercury's lack of buyers for this series,  new parts are hard to come by. Will this be the year that the "whatzamgigger" under the hood next to that "dooda" conks out and I have it towed 100 miles to my mechanic Blacky Carbon? Blacky is a smug Frenchman who goes under the business name of Monsieur Carboone's House of Citroen Repair. Rather than using his real last name in the business he pronounces it as Car-boooone, which he is convinced has certain sex appeal with the European crowd.

Will this be the visit Blacky has to put my aging chick magnet back together with 20 lb. test line, duct tape, and a Hail Mary? Will this be the year than Blacky shuns me, preferring to work with the jet setters from the Continent on broke down 70's Citroens and Peugeots ?

I worry what would happen to my Capri if I weren't there to protect it. My angst spiked recently seeing what had been done to a fallen brethren Capri near Anna Maria Island, Florida. At a distance, I thought I had come upon a rare seaworthy '60's Amphicar.  As I got closer, my excitement changed to bitterness realizing it was an abandoned modified Capri with large shark tail fins, indicating it may have been once been used as a dragster.

In showing the picture of the beached Capri to officials at the "Big Daddy" Garlits Drag Racing Museum in Ocala on the way back to the Twin Cities, I was told by some guffawing smart ass docent in a flame retardant suit, "nope, even with better fins the frame of a Capri would never had made it down the quarter mile. You might want to check with Marineland in Clearwater to see if they know what species of fish it might be."




AMPHICAR CIRCA 1960'S 

Paranoid about my car? Yes, maybe. I love my little car. It's not only a classic, but a survivor.

On a beautiful summer day, I can cruise the shoreline  roads around Lake Minnetonka in the draft of the  big dogs - Ferraris, 'Vettes, Porsches. I know my place in line and accept the fact that the view and the foul air (methane or motor oil) of the lead sled dog never changes?????






WORDS TO 
LIVE BY:


"You can't always get what you want, you can't always get what you want, but if you try so hard you find sometimes you get what you need"!




ROLLING STONES 
1969

SERIOUS  STUFF:


 1)MERCURY CAPRI (89-94) WAS MANUFACTURED IN 2 SERIES. EARLY ON THEY WERE COMPARED TO THE MAZDA MIATA. TWO SERIES WERE MANUFACTURED : RX2 WHICH WAS RATED AS TO HAVE 132 HP; THE MORE COMMON BASIC HAD 100 HP. ACCORDING TO SPORTS CAR CLUB OF AMERICA SOURCES, NEITHER CAPRI WERE PLACED IN A RACING CLASS AT THAT TIME, BUT ARE CURRENTLY IN F PRODUCTION AND/OR TOURING A.

2)HENRY FORD MUSEUM IN DEARBORN, MICHIGAN HAS ONLY 2 MERCURY'S ON DISPLAY; SURPRISINGLY THE CAPRI HAS BEEN OVERLOOKED.

3)SEA HAGG IS LOCATED IN CORTEZ ON 684 JUST BEFORE THE BRIDGE TO ANA MARIA ISLAND. YOU CAN'T MISS SEEING IT AS THE TRAFFIC CRAWLS ONTO AMI.


4)THANKS TO P.A.V FOR REMINDING ME OF MY "ROOTS" NEAR UNION GROVE. 

 






SCROLL DOWN TO BOTTOM OF BLOG PAGE TO VIEW ORIGINAL POST FROM APRIL, 2010: "MERCURY CAPRI TO BE REINTRODUCED TO ROAD RACING AT LE MANS IN 2011"




































Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mercury Capri to be Reintroduced to Road Racing at Le Mans in 2011


In a move that has shocked motorheads worldwide, the Mercury Division of the Ford Motor Company has announced that it will bring the Capri Series back to competitive road racing at Le Mans in 2011. Mercury had used the Capri nameplate on three different versions between 1970 - 1991, with the last car rolling off the line in '94. Unfortunately, the 3rd generation built from 1989 to 1994 was such a disaster with a total of 66,000 problem plagued vehicles sold that the Capri label was "phased out" to what most automotive experts hoped would be it's last hurrah. As one car review summarized it in '90, "when driving this car, I miss any feeling of confidence".

"It'll be different this time," according to Mercury's nineteen year old genius Henry Ford (the 8th) v111, Director of Special Projects, Marketing, Sales, Engineering, Manufacturing, Experimental Vehicles, Liaison to the Car Czar and Lots of Other Things since industry cutbacks. At a press conference held on April 26th in a shuttered Ford plant outside of Flint, Michigan the newest old prototype was unveiled. To the bewilderment of all, Henry v111 selected a rare still running 1991 3rd Generation vehicle found abandoned in a garage in Northern Wisconsin as the prototype.


'91 CAPRI PROTOTYPE


FOUND IN NO. WISCONSIN


"I know my selection has some worried about where this will lead us, but I'm Henry the v111 I am, I am! , chuckled the awkward v111. After reviewing my uncle Edsel Ford's biography entitled How to Make Lemonade Out of Lemons I concluded this Capri would be the best vehicle to build our automotive future from. Besides that, we don't have to invest alot in parts given all the junked Capris out there. We can save big bucks on advertising by putting old never used Capri literature from dealer's showrooms as we bring the cars to market. An astute fiscally responsible Manager I am I am, if I don't say so myself", pontificated the v111.

Le Mans was selected for the formal baptism because experts agree that it's the most grueling 24 hour endurance road race in the World. Pitted against some of the best cars ---- Porsche, Ferrari, Mercedes, etc. Mercury Engineers believe the Capri will have a better than even chance to make it the full 24 hours. "Look at it this way", the pimple faced v111th stated, "the car is pathetic on corners and so slow it barks when you accelerate that we can only do one lap while the others do four. Our chance to endure for the full 24 hours is increased because of it's poor cornering and impotent speed on straightaways. Potential Capri buyers will really get a long look at it's understated lines going up long hills.

One reviewer wishing not to be identified who had written about the vehicle when first introduced has negative feelings about Mercury's new adventure, likening it to a "Ponzi scheme on wheels". "The only thing I can agree with Henry v111 on is that the vehicle has go no giddy-up-go with that Mazda 323 engine. This car was, is, and always will be a disaster. There is no style value and I stand by my initial review of 1990 that the car is so homely that it could stop a Timex watch. The only thing that might provide any reassurance to me would be if it was pulled behind Tow Mader at Le Mans".

Still, the '91 Prototype has already been put to the test at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin living up to the v111's expectations. The car, pictured almost rolling over on a gradual turn, did exactly as anticipated by being lapped by all vehicles including an original Gremlin running on 3 cylinders and a 1975 Chevrolet Vega. "Our strategy is one of laying back during the initial races just to see how superior the Capri is to the competition", stressed v111.



QUOTE FROM THE LOSER AT ELKHART:

                                                     
"THE VIEW OF THE LEAD SLED DOG NEVER CHANGED"

When asked about how the car performed at Road America, the test driver for Mercury was very positive. "Notice in the picture that there were no other cars chasing me at the finish line. As a matter a fact I hadn't seen any cars anywhere for quite awhile until I got the checkered flag. We are all really proud that the car held together at all".




From the Automotive Desk of Green Scallions:


Ok, so maybe I stretched the truth a little on this one, but some of the story is true. I guess I can have a few laughs at the expense of this Mazda Miata Wannabee. I've owned it twice for a total of 13 years.

True parts of this story:

*I bought the car new 11/29/91 -- sold to friend in '97. Repurchased from friend in '04. Actual miles 4/24/10 60,358.

*Car stored in Bayfield, Wisconsin in winter.

*3rd Generation Capris were manufactured at a Ford plant in Australia using Mazda 323 100 HP engine.

*My Capri is considered a roadster with removable optional hardtop. Car was first of many designs to follow the Mazda Miata which started the Roadster   
                                                                         Renaissance in1988.



*Comments by reviewers were from actual articles in the early '90's.

*Car was actually driven at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin in 2008 during Open Drive Time between sports car races. Mixed amongst Corvettes, Porsche's, Nissan's, BMW's, etc. it developed an inferiority complex by being passed by just about everything on the track. Good news is that I finished, but the car still suffers from paranoia.

*License plate reads "2 Deja Vu". Means no more than I've owned this car twice. Just old CSN&Y talking to me. My kids deny that they know me because there is a big strip joint in Twin Cities named "Deja Vu" and they believe their friends will think I go there because of the wording on plate. Just the generation gap redone.

***Life is good!! On a sunny 70 degree day with the top down the wind blows through my hair the same way it does with smirking guy driving next to me in his Maserati.



Special thanks to Chuck and Carrie who kept this car in tip-top condition for me for 6 years.
Due to their generosity I bought the car back from them for 40% of what I had sold it to them for, and got new tires and new convertible top, too!!!!