The Ford Falcon was an automobile produced by Ford Motor Company from 1960 to 1970. It was a huge sales success for Ford initially, handily outselling rival compacts from Chrysler and General Motors introduced at the same time. During its lifespan, the Falcon was offered in a wide range of body styles: two-door and four-door sedans, two and four door station wagons, two door hardtops, convertibles, a sedan delivery and the Ranchero pickup. 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.
Ford Falcon (North America)
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 thanks to wage inflation, making smallerEuropean cars such as Volkswagens increasingly attractive. Furthermore, many American families were now in the market for a second car, and market research showed that women especially thought that the full-size car had grown too large and cumbersome. At the same time, that research showed that many buyers would prefer to buy US or Canadian if the domestic manufacturers offered a smaller, cheaper car. Thus, all three introduced compact cars: the Valiant from Chrysler (becoming the Plymouth Valiant in 1961), the rear-enginedChevrolet Corvair, and the Ford Falcon. Competition also came from smaller Studebaker, with the Lark, and AMC with its Rambler.
The project to produce a compact sedan at Ford, which later became Falcon, was started and sponsored by Robert S. McNamara who was then the General Manager of Ford Division. He commissioned a team to create what by American standards of the time a small car, but elsewhere in the world would be considered a mid-size car. McNamara, who was promoted to Group Vice President of Cars and Trucks by the time Falcon was launched, was intimately involved in every stage of the development, insisting on keeping the costs and weight of the car as low as possible. With room for six passengers in reasonable comfort, to keep the price down, engineer Harley Copp designed a unibody, keeping suspension standard and sourced from Ford's existing parts bin. This allowed both an improvement in build quality, yet the reliable Ford Falcon was an affordable car for its time. The Australian example being the most successful and enduring.
First Generation 1960–1963
By American standards of the 1960s, the Falcon was a small car, but elsewhere it would be considered a mid-size car. It was powered by a small, lightweight 90 hp (67 kW), 144 CID (2.4 L) straight-6 with a single-barrel carburetor. Construction was unibody, and suspension was fairly standard; coil springs in front, leaf springs in the rear. Drum brakes were used at the front and rear wheels. Front suspension was independent with coil springs. A three-speed manual column shift was standard with the two-speed Ford-O-Matic automaticoptionally available . There was room for six passengers in reasonable comfort in the simple interior. Body styles available from the launch year were two and four-door sedans, two or four-door station wagons, and the Ranchero car-based pickup, transferred onto the Falcon platform for 1960 from the Fairlane. A Mercury derivative, the Mercury Comet, originally intended for the defunct Edsel marque, was launched in the US midway through the 1960 model year.
The market shift which spurred the development of the Falcon and its competitors also precipitated the demise of several well-established marques in the late-1950s and early-1960s. Besides the infamous tale of the Edsel, the Nash, Hudson, DeSoto and Packardnameplates all disappeared from the marketplace.
In 1960, Ford's Canadian subsidiary introduced the Falcon-based Frontenac. It was designed to give Mercury-Meteor dealers a smaller model to sell, since the Comet was originally intended as an Edsel, which was sold by Ford-Monarch dealers. Produced for the 1960 model year only, the Frontenac was essentially a rebadged 1960 Falcon with its own unique grille, tail lights and external trim, including red maple leaf insignia. Despite strong sales (5% of Ford's total Canadian output), the Frontenac was discontinued and replaced by the Mercury Comet for 1961.
Robert McNamara, a Ford executive who became Ford's president briefly before being offered the job of U.S. Defense Secretary, is regarded by many as "the father of the Falcon". McNamara left Ford shortly after the Falcon's introduction, but his faith in the concept was vindicated with record sales; over half a million sold in the first year and over a million sold by the end of the second year.
The 1961 model year introduced an optional 101 hp, 170 CID (2.8 L) six, and two new models were introduced; a bucket-seat and console sedan model in a higher trim level called the Futura, and a sedan delivery. Also, the Ford Falcon brochure featured Charlie Brown and Lucy from the Peanuts comic strip. They stayed until 1965.
Ford boasted of the good fuel economy achieved by the six cylinder Ford Falcon models in advertising. The fuel economy was good, a claimed 30mpg, compared to other American cars at the time.
The 1962 model year saw a Squire model of the four door station wagon with faux wood trim on the sides. The bucket seat "Futura" model was offered with a slightly upgraded interior, factory installed safety belts, different side trim (spears), and different emblems. Halfway through the model year, Ford changed the roof line at the back window to more of a Thunderbird design and offered a 4-speed transmission for the first time. The 2-door Futura sedan (also referred to as an 'illusion hardtop' because of the chrome trim around the side window opening) sported a flat rear window in place of the panoramic (wrap-around) window on earlier models to bring its design in line with other Ford cars of the era. In 1962, Ford introduced the Ford Falcon Club Wagon and Deluxe Club Wagon, a 8-passenger, flat-front, van. Ford also promoted that in a Mobilegas economy run, the Falcon got 32.5mpg.
In 1963, even more models were available. There was now a 4-door Futura and a Deluxe wagon. Later, convertibles and then hardtops, and the new "Sprint" model were introduced. Halfway through the model year (February 1963), the Fairlane's 164 hp "Challenger" 260 CID (4.3 L) V8engine was offered for the first time. The Falcon was climbing in trim level from its budget beginnings, as Ford attempted to wring more profit from the line.
Second Generation 1964–1965
A redesign changed the Falcon's looks for 1964. The new look was more squared-off, more modern, as Ford pursued the youth market. Later in 1964, Ford's new offering for that market was launched: the Ford Mustang, based heavily on the Falcon's unitized frame design but with no compromises about its youthful, fun intention. For the 1964 year Ford added a Sprint Package which gave the Falcon the 260 V8, a stiffer suspension, and a louder exhaust. Because the Mustang had the same options that the Sprint had for only a small amount more the Sprint never caught on. Even with the addition of the 289 V8 in late 64 the Sprint was overshadowed by the Mustang, and was discontinued after 1965. The Mustang dealt Falcon sales in North America a blow from which they would never recover. Production ended on June 26th of 1965 for convertible Falcons.
From 1965, the three speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission was available.
Third Generation 1966–1970
The Falcon received another redesign for 1966, with a long-hood/short-deck look much in the Mustang vein. This body was based on a shortened Fairlane platform with different body sheet metal. The two-door Hardtop and Convertible were dropped, while the Station Wagon and Ranchero were moved to a larger platform shared with the contemporary Fairlane. The Ranchero would leave the Falcon line and adopt the Fairlane's front sheet metal for 1967. The 1966 Falcon was used in the Trans-Am series. In 1967, a reminder light was added for the seatbelts. 1968 was the first year for the square taillights.
The final model year for the Falcon in North America was 1970. Continuing sales declines and the inability of the car to meet forthcoming safety standards resulted in a short run of 1970 models identical to the 1969 version being built through the end of December, 1969.
On January 1, 1970, the Falcon name was transferred to a low priced version of the contemporary Ford Fairlane. The new model, which was a sub-series of the Fairlane series, was marketed as the "Falcon '70½" and was available as a two-door sedan, four-door sedan, and four-door wagon. Despite the fact that the Maverick 2-door sedan had been released in April 1969 as a replacement for the soon to be discontinued "compact" Falcon 2-door, Ford went to the trouble of tooling up a unique 2-door sedan for the short '70½ model run. While the number of luxury and convenience options available was limited, the car was available with the full range of Fairlane/Torino powertrains, ranging from the standard 250 cubic-inch six-cylinder and 302 cubic-inch V8 all the way to the 429 Cobra Jet V8.
Ford Falcon (Argentina)
The Argentine Ford Falcon is a car that was built by Ford Argentina from 1962 to 1991. Mechanically, it was based on Ford USA's 1960 Falcon. The Falcon retained the same elegant body style throughout its production, with several substantial face lifts taking place during its lifespan, giving it a more European flavour and bringing it into line with other more contemporary Fords. However, several decades later it was apparent that it was a 1960s design wearing a 1980s grille.
The robust Ford Falcons became popular as black and yellow taxi cabs and black and blue police vehicles, with the green painted Falcons used by the secret police of the military junta of the 1970s associated with them to this day.
Falcons are still raced in the Turismo Carretera stock car racing series.
The story of the Falcon in Argentina began in 1961 when Ford Motor Argentina imported two Falcons from the US to test.
In 1962, local production began with complete knock down kits imported from the US assembled at the Ford factory in La Boca. Only a sedan was offered, with Standard and Deluxe trim levels, and a 170 cubic inch Ford Straight-6 engine. The official unveiling of the Falcon to the country took place in the theater "Gran Rex" in February 1962.
The first restyle of the Falcon came in 1963 and was produced until 1965. The Falcon now had a horizontal aluminum grill. New models included the Taxi model in 1964, and the Futura in 1965, with a vinyl roof and bucket seats. A larger and more powerful 187 c.i. engine was available. More parts were manufactured locally.
The second restyling of 1966 brought a more ornate grill, hood and side panel ornamentation. Most parts were now locally produced. In 1968, the new Falcon Rural station wagon model began production, with its own Futura and Deluxe variants. High compression engines producing more power were available from 1968, and in 1969 Ford introduced a higher performance 3.6 litre 132 hp engine that became available as an option (model 221XP), it employed a freer-breathing cylinder head and less restrictive exhaust system to boost power. A floor mounted 4-speed transmission became available for the first time.
The third restyling of 1970 began drifting away from the original design as quad headlights were introduced on Deluxe and Futura models, new front and rear bumpers with vertical nudge bars and disc brakes with 14 inch wheels and low aspect red stripe radial tyres are now available as options. The 188 and 221 c.i. engines were now standard, and the Deluxe version of the Futura Rural station wagon is discontinued.
By 1973, its fourth restyling, it drifts even more away from the original design as it gets a new redesigned dashboard with round instruments and tachometer on deluxe models, a new grill with several thick horizontal bars and quad headlights become squarer in design. A sporting Falcon Sprint was introduced with new refreshing color schemes, painted stripes, 14 inch sports wheels and a higher performance 166 bhp (124.5 kW) specially tuned 3.6 litre (221 c.i.) engine, on the interior it included additional gauges and leather-covered sports steering wheel. The Deluxe trim of the Rural station wagon was dropped. A pickup, called the Ranchero, was introduced with Standard and Deluxe external trim and a heavy-duty brake option.
The fifth restyling of 1978 brought further cosmetic changes, with another new grill this time in plastic, Ford's new oval logo emblems, new updated door handles, improved cabin ventilation with exhaust vents on the c pillar, single large rectangular headlights and 175/70 R14 radial tyres on sporting or deluxe models amongst several other changes.
On its sixth and last restyling it tries to bring its design in line as it is sold along its more modern "siblings", the Ford Taunus, Sierra and later the Escort. Changes include new bumpers with rubber strips and rubber end caps, new large rectangular taillights with amber turn signals, bronze tinted glass replaces green and a larger trunk by reconfiguring the trunk floor and repositioning the spare tyre and other minor cosmetic changes. The Taxi and Sprint versions were dropped, and the Futura becomes the Ghia. A 2.3 litre four cylinder petrol engine was now available, and from 1988 a 2.4 litre diesel. In 1989, the new Max Econo version of the 188 c.i./3.0 litre engine became available, with better fuel economy at the cost of performance. Chrome was removed in 1990, and the Falcon was finally discontinued after 1991.