Ford’s annual Vehicle Enthusiasts’ Day at its Warley headquarters has long been a red-letter day for blue oval fans, but this year’s event was a special occasion for two major reasons. Not only was it the last such occasion to take place before the Essex site is closed in September, it also saw enthusiasts come together to mark 50 years of the Capri.

Warley has been central to Ford’s operations since 1964, but will shut its doors later this year as the manufacturing giant moves its headquarters to the nearby Dunton plant. But this was a day to celebrate rather than mourn, with the golden anniversary of Ford’s iconic fastback at the centre of it all. Over 100 fantastic examples were gathered on the lawn in front of the historic building, with everything from the earliest Mk1s to turbocharged Tickford Mk3s and the final 280 Brooklands editions. Some owners had even travelled from mainland Europe to join the party.

In front of the doors, a display of legendary Fords included a superb GT40 replica, a Zakspeed Capri from Ford of Germany’s heritage fleet and an RS200 from the UK heritage fleet. Elsewhere, other models included Escorts from Mk1 to Mk5, all the three generations of the Fiesta XR2/XR2i, a couple of Racing Pumas, Sierras, Granadas, Orions and a selection of other makes.

Despite an intermittent mix of showers and sunshine, the barbecue proved to be massive hit, while inside former Ford designer Steve Saxty shared tales from his book The Cars You Always Promised Yourself and his new work celebrating 50 years of the Capri. Ford ambassador Mike Brewer was also present, with the Wheeler Dealers star handing out the awards.  The ‘Spirit of Capri’ went to Craig Scott for his ratty-looking Mk2, while the best non-Ford was awarded to a beautifully restored 1963 Mini.

As for the car Mike most wanted to drive home in, that accolade went to Derek Hawkins’ Mk1 1300GT, which was manufactured as early as December 1968 and was used as a Ford press car in Cyprus and Malta. On the Capri’s big day, it seemed only fitting that the final say should go to one of the cars that started it on its journey.