Frankfurt IAA 2011. It’s the big show of the year, and home to the European industry’s most important debuts, show cars, and industry tie-ups. Exciting isn’t it?
Yes and no.
It’s great that Land Rover and Jaguar will be showing concept versions of their next new car icons (C-X60 for the XE – new E-type – and DC100 for the Defender 2015), proving that ‘Tatuar Land Tata’ really is serious about turning the nice bits of the artist formerly known as British Leyland into a 21st driving force to blow BMW and Mercedes-Benz out of the water… but there’s a whole lot more going on aside from that.
One thing you’ll hear a lot about, too, is that the Ford Evos concept represents nothing less than the rebirth of the Ford Capri. And why shouldn’t it? During the past decade, some of the greatest 20th century icons have been reborn (with varying degrees of success) have been reborn: just think of the MINI (it started out fantastically, but is now being perverted) and the Fiat 500 (truly astounding now it has that joyous TwinAir engine). So why shouldn’t the same fate befall the Ford Capri?
If any car deserves a sympathetic rebirth in the 2010s, it’s the Capri.
But something troubles me about the Evos. It, er, doesn’t look like a Capri, and shares none of that car’s DNA. It could be argued that this is no bad thing as retro design has now been confined to the dustbin of history (for now), and although the MINI and the lovely little Fiat (goodness, I wish that was a British car, so I could cover it on AROnline) owe a great deal to cars that were born during the 1950s, they’re both modernist in design. Especially the Fiat. And that’s the point – both the MINI and Fiat 500 look modern, and are instantly linked with the cars that donated them their name.
Whereas Evos has no Capri in it as far as I can see.
So, when the magazines and websites start talking about the new Capri, you know that they’re writing in hope for a return for Ford’s great sports car for the people. In truth, it wouldn’t take a lot to give the Evos a Capri flavour: reprofile that rear window, give it a quad-inspired headlamp design and you’re away. It can be done. And for proof of this, you need look no further than Ford’s brilliant (from a styling standpoint) Mustang.
And the thing is, I reckon a ‘classic’ Capri inspired new-gen Capri would fly out of the showroom. Probably, its success would be as tangible as the Probe and Cougar’s failure (two cars that failed to capitalise on their heritage). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Capri fan myself, and would have a Manta (or whisper it, Marina Coupe) over one any day of the week – and Ford was brilliant at being able to market 1.3- and 1.6-litre versions of this repackaged Cortina Mk3 as a sporting car with very little performance. But then, Ford was fantastic at giving the customer what he wanted.
With a new Capri, styled as it should be, I’m pretty sure the company would really regain its mojo.
Call it anything else, and don’t bother influencing it by the past, and it may as well not bother at all…
[Further reading: Ford Capri development history]