2003 Ford Visos Conpect
Ford tried somany times to replace the Capri. There are no less than four abandoned Capris in Volume One of Secret Fords, but this – the fifth and final one – came closest to production.
Its story starts in 2002 when Product Development chief Martin Leach was promoted to become Ford of Europe’s new President and COO. The young Essex-born engineer hadworked for the company his entire working life, growing up with Capris in his blood.He took over during the era of rehashed, retro-modern European cars like the MINI, Beetle and BMW Z8 – so naturally Leach ordered up a new millennium Capri. Over in Detroit, Ford had already jumped on the retro-modern bandwagon with its 2001 Thunderbird, which – to everyone’s horror – became an instant sales flop.
The American car’s failure taught Ford a lesson.When buyers grewolder and moved on, they didn’t yearn for a pastiche of a carthey used to own while younger buyers didn’t want something their dad owned. Ford’s European design team weren’t going tomake the same mistake and create a slavishly retrolooking new Capri. The Ford of Europe design team, under former Audi designer Chris Bird, decided that their 2000s Capri had to bemore forward-looking and yes, a bit more Audi-like and upmarket.
Puma designer, Briton Chris Svenson nailed it. His design mixed ultra-clean Germanic surfaces with many subtle Capri cues. Best of allwas the iconic hockey stick side feature that, in a knowingly neat bit of detailing, was turned upside down so that it curled up around the two side vents. There were high hopes for the concept car, called Visos, but visitors to the 2003 Frankfurt show thought it lookedmore Audi than Capri. Within a few months Leach was gone, and the project ran out of steam. After 30 years of trying, and five secret, never-seen attempts, Ford gave up; the Capriwas finally dead.