Isla’s Capri

Yellow Capri Car


When is a car more than a car? When it’s a much loved reminder of independence and happy courting days…

It was the car you always promised yourself. Bodie and Doyle roared around in a pair of them in The Professionals. Terry McCann drove one in Minder. The Ford Capri was an icon of the 1970s and 80s.

Forty years later, Isla reckoned it still looked just as stylish. She was sitting at a pavement table beneath a sunshade on the French Riviera, surrounded by tanned and beautiful people.

The seafront was lined with Lamborghinis and Ferraris, but against a backdrop of white beach and aquamarine sea, her gleaming orange Capri looked sharper than any of them.

Admiring the photo of it she’d just uploaded to Instagram, she smiled at the memory of finding her first Capri on a used car lot in Dumfries when she was twenty.

In two-tone white and dusky pink, it stood out like a jewel among the Cortinas and Cavaliers. With its long, sweeping bonnet, hunched rear and snarling grille, it looked like a predator, ready to pounce.

At ten years old, it had some rust around the edges, but she could live with that. Especially for just £500, which was well within her budget.

No girl in Dumfries had a motor like Isla’s. She reckoned it caught Sandy’s eye before she did, but she wasn’t complaining!

In the year they were courting, they drove it all over Scotland. For their honeymoon they took the Capri to London, cruising past Nelson’s Column and over Tower Bridge. She even named her son, Ford, after the car.

There was no Instagram in those days and no camera phones. You had to send snaps away to be developed and it was nigh on impossible to take a selfie.

As a result Isla had only one photo of herself with her first Capri: a faded snap of her leaning against it in blue jeans and brown bomber jacket, her enormous Eighties hair puffed up like candyfloss.

Sometimes she wondered what had happened to the girl in that photo, but she knew what had happened to the Capri.

Ten-year-old cars bought for £500 do not last forever. With every MOT test, it needed more welding to combat the rust. Eventually, the engine gave out and the scrapyard was the only option.

Isla cried as she watched it being towed away. She and Sandy had another more modern and practical car to ferry their two kids about by then. But as she watched the tow truck drag her coupé around the corner and out of sight, she still felt as if a part of her life was disappearing with it.

For a fortieth birthday treat, with Ford and her daughter grown up, she’d considered getting another Capri as a weekend toy, to relive her youth.

But when she’d looked into it, she’d found they were no longer old bangers that could be bought for pennies. They’d become classic cars that fetched £30,000 in mint condition. There was no way she could justify such extravagance.

When she took early retirement, however, she chanced upon one online.

“What does that remind you of?” she asked Sandy.

“It’s the exact model, isn’t it?” he marvelled, leaning over her shoulder.

Isla smiled.

We could take it across Europe on our retirement holiday

“You’re totally mad!” he laughed, and kissed her head.

But if she couldn’t do the odd mad thing now, when would she?

A month later, Isla took a photo of the Capri on her driveway. Indoors, she set up an Instagram page, Travels With My Capri, on which to record her transcontinental adventure.

She took a picture of the car beneath the White Cliffs of Dover, and another on the cross-channel ferry.

In Paris, she posted a photo of the Capri in front of the Eiffel Tower at night. The Tower was lit up like a glittering gold ornament and its millions of lights twinkled in the car’s paintwork.

The next morning, she snapped it in front of the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees – the most beautiful avenue in the world.

Awesome photo, Mum! Ford typed in the comments.

He wasn’t the only one. Isla was surprised to have picked up quite a following for her clever camera angles and novel subject matter. Now here she was, on the Riviera, with Italy still to come.

“It’s a shame to leave,” Sandy sighed as he returned to their sunkissed table. “But we’d better make a move. Next stop: the Isle of Capri.”

“Where could be more apt?”

Isla stood and kissed him with a love that had never dimmed. Then she picked up the toy Capri and popped it in her bag with her phone. Hand in hand, they walked to their waiting coach.

More uplifting short stories:

Read The Sunflower Sisters, Behind Closed Doors, and The Midnight Bakery, plus many more in our archives.

Georgia Grieve