Two Mazda-based sports convertibles were born in 1989, the Miata, and the Australian-built Capri. One of them was the answer to all of life's problems, while today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Mercury proves, there's a big difference between nurture and nature.
Just like everywhere else, Brazil is full of people trying to make a name for themselves. People like this girl whose claim to fame is her epic belching, and like Genaro Malzoni who gave us a car named Puma. Yesterday's 1982 Puma GTI may have been rough, but its price reflected its condition and it was named a respectable 80% Nice Price winner.
Hey, who's ready for a Mazda-engined two-seat convertible with a turbo four and a five-speed stick? Did I mention that it was built in Australia, and was sold in America as a Mercury? Did I also mention that it was front-wheel drive?
The last car to carry the Mercury Capri name held so much promise before its introduction. The impetus for the car came from the early-'80s Ghia-designed Barchetta show car, which was Fiesta based and cute as a bug.
Styling duties for the production car were assigned to Giorgetto Giugiaro's Italdesign, usually known for doing solid work. In this case however, the result ended up being something that the Italian styling house would probably like to disown today.
Perhaps the biggest issue with the SA30 Capri was that it was based on the Mazda 323 econobox, with its econobox-tall firewall and front-wheel drive. This gave the car econobox proportions and econobox handling. It also was sold in the U.S. as a Mercury starting in 1991, and was marketed here against its sexy cousin, the MX5 Miata. That was sort of like pitting Velma against Daphne, or perhaps more accurately, Mary Ann against... Mrs. Howell.
This 1991 Mercury Capri is one of those cars and can be seen today as the Miata's poor relation. On the plus side, this one is an XR2 which means that it has the 132-bhp DOHC four instead of the 100-horse naturally aspirated edition. It also gets a natty spoiler on the back and probably a few other nick-knacks that the base car lacked.
In fact, the ad notes that this cherry-red Capri is heavily optioned and to its benefit one of the options that WASN'T chosen was the available 4-speed auto. Instead, this car having the fun in the sun five speed stick.
It also has only 90,000 miles and is claimed to run like a new car. Of course the ad also claims the body to be in excellent condition. Perhaps that extremely noticeable scuff on the front bumper is - like yesterday's weird Puma fender pic - a trick of the lighting.
Regardless of its history, or that compared to a Miata it doesn't come off very well, the Capri XR2 is still a pretty comfortable little convertible - far more so than the sportier Mazda. And this one only asks $1,900.
What's your take on this Mercury for that kind of money? Is this a Capri that might be worth taking the plunge at $1,900? Or, is that too much for this little orphan Aussie?
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