How an EPA cheating fine kept Ford from selling its 1974-built Capri IIs until the 1976 model year – Mark J McCourt @Hemmings

First-generation Capri, built in Germany for the American market and sold here in Lincoln-Mercury dealerships, had proven massively popular, and was still selling well in the spring of 1974, when its restyled, hatchback-equipped Capri II came online

It was during a recent conversation about Capri II values for a Hemmings Stock Exchange feature that Ford Capri racer, Capri Club North America founder, and proprietor of Capri parts specialist firm Team Blitz, Norm Murdock, told me the fascinating story as to why we sometimes see Capri IIs in the U.S. with build dates of 1974 and 1975, for a model whose first official year on our market was 1976.

As Norm explained, Ford of Germany actually built both generations of Capris at the same time in 1974, in the same plant. For virtually all markets outside of North America, 1973 had been the final model year of the first-generation car, with the exception of the racing homologation-special RS3100 that was sold in late 1973-early 1974; that was the only Mark I Capri available for purchase during the 1974 model year in the U.K./Europe. The vast majority of the 1974 Capris built were Capri IIs, and aside from that RS, all first-gen 1974 cars built that year were exclusively for our market.

During those years in North America, tightening Environmental Protection Agency and Department Of Transportation certification processes created emissions mandates that nearly all automakers were forced to meet by adapting exhaust gas recirculation and catalytic converter systems.”Ford, in 1973, had just been fined what was at the time, the most severe penalty by the EPA for shortcutting its emissions certifications, and had suffered a big civil settlement,

” Norm explains. “When the Capri II debuted in Europe, it was not ready for prime time in North America.”Our ‘official’ first model year for the Capri II in North America was 1976. But in my collection of Capris, I have a November of 1974-built car. They were building them for North America in 1974, but they were embargoed voluntarily by Ford, stored in gigantic holding lots until they were allowed to sell them: I assume they were kept in Detroit, and out in lots by the East Coast/West Coast shipyards.” [Note, the lead image does not show one of these lots, but is a European representative image of a Ford holding lot.]

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Categories: 1970's, 1974, 1976, Ford, Hemmings, mercury

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