The Ford Falcon is an automobile that was produced by Ford from 1960 to 1970 across three generations. It was a sales success for Ford initially, outselling rival compacts from Chrysler and General Motors introduced at the same time.
The Falcon was offered in two-door and four-door sedan, two-door and four-door station wagon, two-door hardtop, convertible, sedan delivery and Ranchero pickup body configurations. For several years, the Falcon name was also used on passenger versions of the Ford Econoline van.
Variations of the Ford Falcon were manufactured in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile and Mexico.
Edsel Ford first used the term "Falcon" for a more luxurious Ford he designed in 1935. He decided the new car did not fit with Ford's other offerings, so this design eventually became the Mercury.
Historically, the "Big Three" auto manufacturers (GM, Ford and Chrysler), focused purely on the larger and more profitable vehicles in the US and Canadian markets. Towards the end of the 1950s, all three manufacturers realized that this strategy would no longer work. Large automobiles were becoming increasingly expensive, making smaller cars such as Volkswagens and Toyotas increasingly attractive. Furthermore, many American families were now in the market for a second car, and market research showed women especially thought the full-size car had grown too large and cumbersome. At the same time, that research showed many buyers would prefer to buy US or Canadian if the domestic manufacturers offered a smaller car with lower cost of ownership. Thus, all three introduced compacts: the Valiant from Chrysler (becoming the Plymouth Valiant in 1961, and joined by a downsized Dodge Dart in 1962), GM's Chevrolet Nova, and the Ford Falcon. Studebaker also introduced the Lark, and Rambler downsized its near-compact American in 1960.
The project which became the Falcon was started and sponsored by Ford General Manager Robert S. McNamara, who commissioned a team to create what by American standards of the time would be a small car but elsewhere in the world considered a mid-size. McNamara, who was promoted to Group Vice President of Cars and Trucks by the time Falcon was launched, was intimately involved in development, insisting on keeping the costs and weight of the car as low as possible. Engineer Harley Copp employed a unibody atop a standard suspension and sourced parts from Ford's existing bin to keep the price low yet provide room for six passengers in reasonable comfort.