The 1981 Mercury Capri was part of the second generation first introduced in 1979 and produced through 1986. It was now officially part of the Mercury model line as Lincon-Mercury ended captive imports of the Ford Capri, instead, creating a Mercury counterpart of the 1979 Ford Mustang. It used the Fox platform which it shared with the Mustang and was marketed as a 'pony car', the company's first since the 1970 Mercury Cougar.
The second-generation Capri was offered solely in the three-door hatchback configuration and shared many styling features with its Mustang sibling. For 1981, the Mercury Capri was available in the base or GS model, RS option, Turbo RS, and Black Magic. The Black Magic special edition was new for 1981 and would remain in the lineup through 1983. These cars were finished in black with gold striping, gold metric TRX wheels and a gold cat's head on each side of the front valance. The interior featured special black seats with sand-colored inserts. Recaro seating became optional in 1982 and Sport Performance seating a year later. The 1981 and 1982 Black Magic cars could be ordered with polar white paint and similar exterior appointments as the black cars. The 1983 Black Magic cars were the only ones to receive the compound rear window.
The base engine was an inline-four-cylinder unit displacing 140 CID and offering 88 horsepower at 4,600 RPM. It was backed by a standard four-speed manual shift transmission. A turbocharged version was optional and came only with manual shift, and V-8s only with automatic. The V-8 and turbo both added dual bright tailpipe extension. An inline 200 cubic-inch six was also available and came with the four-speed manual overdrive transmission. Power brakes were now standard, and so were the 14-inch tires and wheels, and turbine wheel covers. Sport wheel covers were a no-cost option. New options included power windows and a Traction-Lok rear axle. The optional T-Roof came with two removable tinted glass panels AM radio was now standard.
The GS, that replaced the former Ghia, came with black dual remote control mirrors, door map pocket, four-spoke steering wheel with woodtone insert, a light group, and GS badge.
The RS trim level came with a non-functional hood scoop, black headlamp frames and windshield molding, dual black remote mirrors, black grille, upper bodyside dual accent stripe, black rear spoiler, and black window frame moldings. The interior included a leather-wrapped steering wheel and simulated engine-turned instrument panel. A mechanical upgrade included the handling suspension.
Turbo RS models came with 'Turbo RS' tape on the front fender, a Turbo plaque on the hood scoop, a sport-tuned exhaust, three-spoke 14.3 inch forged aluminum wheels, 8,000 RPM tachometer, and Rally suspension.
The base price of the Capri began at $6,685, a rather significant increase over the prior year's price of $5,250. Approximately 80,000 examples were sold in 1980 compared to roughly 52,800 a year later.By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2020