Home » An Unstoppable Force And An Immovable Object: 1952 Lincoln Capri vs 1972 Ford Mustang

An Unstoppable Force And An Immovable Object: 1952 Lincoln Capri vs 1972 Ford Mustang

Sbsd 2 27 2024
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Good morning! For day two of pre-smog week, I’ve got two more Ford products for you. One of them won’t go, and the other won’t stop. But hey, average them out, and you’re doing all right, I guess.

Yesterday’s wagon battle went about as I expected it to go: the big brown Ford won in a landslide. It brought back warm fuzzy memories for a lot of you, and I can relate; it reminds me of my college days, when my friend Big Ed had a powder-blue Torino wagon about this same age. It was our go-to party bus for a year or two, including quite a few trips down from Duluth to Shakopee to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. Whoever was the most awake at 5 AM would drive down (usually Big Ed) and whoever was most sober at the end of the day would drive back (usually me; I’ve never been a big drinker).

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More than one of you pointed out that the Galaxie is actually a ’72, not a ’73 as listed in the ad, and now looking at photos of the two years, I see the difference. Sellers aren’t always right, and usually I catch their mistakes, but I missed this one. Thank you for pointing it out. Oh, and for the record: I still think gassers are cool. I don’t actually want that Hillman in my driveway, but I would love to have a model of it on my shelf. Might have to work on that.

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Now, to new business: The best thing you can do when you get a new project car is to get it up and running as soon as possible. The longer you wait to fire the engine, the more likely you are to start tearing stuff apart first, and the more boxes it will be in when you give up and sell it.

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The second most important thing to do, however, is to make sure it stops when you hit the brake pedal. One of today’s cars is awaiting that first step; the other is hung up on the second. Let’s check them out.

1952 Lincoln Capri – $3,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 317 cubic inch overhead valve V8, four-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Prunedale, CA

Odometer reading: unknown

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Operational status: Runs well, goes into gear fine, has no brakes

Ford got a lot of mileage out of the Capri name. It was used on a European Ford coupe, a Fox-body Mustang variant, and an Australian-built roadster. But before all that, the Capri (named for the Italian island, not the pants) started out as Lincoln’s mainstay nameplate, after the Cosmopolitan but before the Premiere.

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This first-year Capri is powered by a 317 cubic inch overhead valve “Y-block” V8, finally replacing the legendary flathead. It’s backed by a four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic, sourced from General Motors; Ford didn’t yet have its own automatic transmission up to the task. This Y-block has been rebuilt, and is said to run very well, and the transmission goes into Drive and Reverse just like it should. However, it’s impossible to assess the drivetrain’s condition any further than that, because this car’s brakes are completely out. Don’t worry, though; RockAuto actually has the brake parts for this car.

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Somebody has been tinkering with the other parts of this car as well. The seats have been reupholstered, and the rest of the interior looks all right except for a falling headliner. Outside, it’s missing a couple bits of trim, but the seller says they do have all the hubcaps and the rear fender skirts. I have to say, as much as the “rat rod” thing is a bit overplayed these days, this car wears its patina well.

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Two rather important things are missing from this car, however: the keys, and the title. The seller hot-wired it to be able to move it around, but a new ignition switch with proper keys is in order. The title isn’t really a big deal on a car this old, it doesn’t sound like; a new title shouldn’t be hard to come by.

1972 Ford Mustang – $4,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 302 cubic inch overhead valve V8, three-speed automatic, RWD

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Location: Springfield, OR

Odometer reading: unknown

Operational status: Ran when parked, cranks but won’t fire

It’s almost a cliche at this point: the captain of the high-school football team getting fat and slow by the time the ten-year reunion comes around. For the Ford Mustang, it didn’t even take ten years; seven was enough. Longer, wider, and massively heavier than the original Mustang, the 1971-73 models were definitely fat, and with the exception of the Mach 1, comparatively slow. The downsized Mustang II for 1974 was the right move, whatever detractors might think. This car is chonky.

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Powering this overweight pony is a 302 V8 with a four-barrel carb and an automatic transmission. It’s a good classic Mustang combination, and even if it doesn’t throw you back in your seat, at least it makes the right noises. Or, rather, it would, if it would start. The seller was told this car ran when it was parked, but that was eight years ago, if the registration is correct. It will turn over fine on the starter, but has no spark. Luckily, ignition parts are cheap and easy on a car this old; replace everything, and see if it fires off.

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The mechanical parts are easy; the tough part of this car is going to be the body. It has a lot of peeling paint, a lot of surface rust, and the seller says it has some holes in the floor pans. It’s filthy, which makes it hard to tell exactly what condition the sheetmetal is really in; a good wash is the place to start, I think. That wonky front fender has me concerned; I hope it doesn’t indicate more significant rust damage in the front.

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Inside, things are a bit better. The vinyl upholstery isn’t in great shape, but it’s intact. Hopefully it has been parked in that carport all this time, to keep it out of the weather. Old window seals leak, and as you may have heard, we get a little bit of rain in this part of the world. You can tell by the smell when you open the door if a car has been parked outside.

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I know some of you aren’t crazy about project cars, but just humor me for today. Tomorrow’s cars are already picked, and you’ll be happy to know they both run and drive. For now, though, your choice is between a big old Lincoln and a fat Mustang.

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Not The Ford 289
Not The Ford 289
1 month ago

3 words~ish: 460ci in Mustang

Last edited 1 month ago by Not The Ford 289
05LGT
05LGT
1 month ago

My least favorite Mustang is still a close call against a lot of cars, but this Lincoln has character. Just start fixing with upgrades. Give it better brakes than it deserves first, get that headliner off of me, it’s already going to shows… Then let the madness take over until it shreds tires and dollars…

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

Lincoln for me since it seems to have less rust and once you fix it up, you’ll have a vehicle more interesting than a slushbox/302 1972 Mustang.

Clear_prop
Clear_prop
1 month ago

That Mustang parked in a Oregon greenhouse is likely totally rusted out underneath, especially since the ad mentions rusted out floor pans. All that’s holding it together is paint.

Myk El
Myk El
1 month ago

I’d take the Lincoln, do some performance upgrades and put a picture of both Roddy Piper and Honest Abe in the back window.

EastbayLoc
EastbayLoc
1 month ago

Probably the Capri if for nothing more to take a look at the other cars in that yard.

I remember those Mustangs when I was a kid. They seemed big and I remember when a friend’s mom would drive us home, you could really smell gas fumes in the cab.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 month ago

Mom once told me something about “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”.

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
1 month ago

If the frame is good, the Mustang. I would want to see the underside.

05LGT
05LGT
1 month ago

Frame??

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
1 month ago
Reply to  05LGT

Yeah, that was not the right way to phrase it. I know it is a unibody, but the support infrastructure can still be compromised by rust. Floor pans are one thing, but if the whole underside is Swiss cheese, it is not worth the effort.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
1 month ago

When I was a kid, a friend’s mother had a Mustang just like this – but with the inline 6/automatic. What a slug. The 250ci inline 6 was just lost in the engine bay. You could just about walk around it in there.

It was probably the highest ratio of car size/interior volume ever. Even as a kid, it was painful climbing into the back seat and you couldn’t see out once in there.

Eventually, it was traded in on a first year Foxstang with a 2.8 and the automatic, which seemed like a real sports car compared to the old Mustang.

I’d take the Capri although I’d prefer a mid ’70s Capri II – I still miss mine. It would be a great car to restomod.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

“Son, you’re gonna drive me to drinking
If you don’t quit driving that Hot……Rod…… Lincoln” 😉

Tbird
Tbird
1 month ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

I didn’t say it but was thinking it.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago
Reply to  Tbird

It’s got eight cylinders; uses them all
It’s got overdrive, just won’t stall

Cyko9
Cyko9
1 month ago

Chonky or not, I’m a fan of this era Mustang, slightly more than the ’70 even. Had this been a manual, I might have voted for it on the condition of investigating the rust. The interior does look pretty good, and a transmission swap probably isn’t too hard, but add up the cost and a better candidate can probably be had for about as much. The Lincoln actually has more draw than I would’ve expected and would knock ’em out at a car show. Get it some brakes, find a hood badge, staple up the headliner and you’re set.

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