Ford Falcon (North America)

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Ford Falcon
1962 Ford Falcon 2-door wagon
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
Also calledMazda Falcon
Production1960-1970
SuccessorFord Maverick
ClassCompact
Body style(s)2-door sedan
4-door sedan
3-door station wagon
5-door station wagon
2-door hardtop coupe
2-door convertible
2-door ute
Engine(s)144 CID Thriftpower Six
170 CID Thriftpower Six
200 CID Thriftpower Six
260 CID Windsor V8
289 CID Windsor V8
302 CID Windsor V8
RelatedFord Econoline
Ford Mustang
Ford Ranchero
Mercury Comet


The Ford Falcon was an automobile produced by Ford Motor Company from 1960 through 1970. It was manufactured in the USA, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Mexico and Chile. 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, and a sedan delivery and the Ranchero pickup. For several years, the Falcon name was also used on passenger versions of the Ford Econoline van.

History

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 smaller European cars such as Volvos and 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-engined Chevrolet Corvair, and the Ford Falcon. Competition also came from smaller Studebaker, with the Lark, and AMC with its Rambler.

First Generation 1960-1963

First Generation
1963 Ford Falcon Futura Convertible
Production1960-1963
Engine(s)144 cu in I6
170 cu in I6
260 cu in V8

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 for both the front and rear wheels. A three-speed column shift was standard with the two-speed Ford-O-Matic automatic available at cost. 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 Packard nameplates all disappeared from the marketplace.

The 1960 Frontenac, which was essentially a rebadged Falcon for the Canadian market.

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 re-badged 1960 Falcon with its own unique grille, tail lights and external trim including red maple leaf insignias. 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 in the first year and hitting 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 and a higher trim level called the Futura, and a Sedan Delivery.

Ford boasted of the good fuel economy achieved by six cylinder Ford Falcon models in advertising. The fuel economy was good, compared to other American cars made at the time.

1962 saw a Squire model of the four door Station Wagon with fake wood trim on the sides. The bucket seat "Futura" model was offered with a slightly upgraded interior, factory installed lap safety belts, different side trim (spears), and different emblems. Halfway through the model year, they 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 bubble window on earlier models to bring its design in line with other Ford cars of the era.

In 1963 even more models were available. There was now a 4-door Futura, a Deluxe Wagon and Ranchero. Later, Convertibles and then Hardtops, and the new "Sprint" model was introduced. Halfway through the model year (February 1963), a 164 hp 260 CID (4.3 L) V8 engine 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

Second Generation
1964 Ford Falcon
Production1964-1965

A redesign changed the Falcon's looks for 1964. The new look was more squared-off, more modern, as Ford chased 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. The Mustang dealt Falcon sales in North America a blow from which they would never recover.

From 1965, the three speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission was available.

Third Generation 1966-1970

Third Generation
1966 Ford Falcon Sports Coupe
Production1966-1970

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.

1969 Falcon Station Wagon

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-line version of the contemporary Fairlane/Torino. This "1970 1/2" Falcon was available as a two door Sedan, four door Sedan, and four door Wagon only, despite the fact that the 2-door "real" Falcon's replacement, the Maverick coupe, had already appeared in January 1969. But the 4-door Maverick Sedan would not be available until the 1971 new-model launch in fall of '70. While the number of luxury and convenience options available was limited, the car was available with the full range of Fairlane/Torino powertrains.

See also

External links