Ford Falcon (Australia)
The Ford Falcon is a full-size car which has been manufactured by Ford Australia since 1960. Each model from the XA series of 1972 onward has been designed, developed and built in Australia, following the phasing out of the American Falcon of 1960-70 which had been re-engineered locally for the harsher Australian conditions. As a result of the longevity of its Australian production, the Falcon is one of the biggest selling names in world automotive history, selling over 3,000,000 in six generations to 2003, almost exclusively in Australia and New Zealand. As of July 2007, Ford sells upwards of 3,000 units per month.
|2008 Ford FG Falcon XR6|
|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company of Australia|
|Also called||Ford Fairmont|
|Predecessor||Ford Consul, Ford Zephyr, Ford Zodiac|
|Body style(s)||4-door sedan|
5-door station wagon
2-door panel van
Ford has manufactured over three million units since 1960, and has topped the sales charts in Australia on many occasions. Currently the Falcon line-up is offered in sedan, station wagon, and utility body styles, however in the past panel vans and hardtops (coupe) were offered. Falcons dominate the ranks of taxis in Australia and New Zealand and are also used as police patrol cars.
Luxury variants of the current model Falcon, collectively known as the G Series, are marketed as the Ford G6, G6E and G6E Turbo. Other Falcon based models developed by Ford Australia but no longer in production are the Ford Futura, Ford Fairmont and Ford Landau as well as the long wheelbase Ford Fairlane and Ford LTD.
First generation (1960–1966)
During the 1950s, Ford's Australian sales were faltering due to the popularity of the Holden, and the lack of an effective competitor. Ford assembled the Zephyr and its Consul and Zodiac derivatives. However, while these cars were moderately successful and had a good reputation, Ford could not match Holden's price, and so sales suffered. One of the reasons for the price difference was the higher cost of imported parts, which were subject to an import tariff. Ford also assembled Canadian-sourced Ford V8 models, but these cars were in a higher price category, putting them out of reach of the average buyer.
Hence, Ford decided to commence local production of a Holden challenger. Initially they intended to produce the Zephyr, using expensive dies they would need to purchase from Ford England. However, during a visit to Ford headquarters in Detroit in 1958, they were shown the new Falcon, which was being prepared for its US launch. Immediately, the executives were attracted to the new car- it was about the same size as Holden, but it was low, long, wide and modern. The width allowed it to accommodate 6 people, and a 2-speed automatic transmission was available. Besides all this, Ford Australia felt they had more experience building North American cars. Hence they decided to make Falcon their new Australian car. In 1959, Ford built a factory at Broadmeadows, a suburb of Melbourne, for local production of the North American Ford Falcon. The factory was designed in Canada, and had a roof which would facilitate dispersal of snow - notwithstanding the fact that snow does not usually fall in Melbourne.
The first Falcon sold in Australia was the XK series, introduced in September 1960. It was initially offered only as a four door sedan, in both Falcon and Falcon Deluxe trim levels. The XK was essentially a right hand drive version of the North American model, although local country dealers often included modifications such as heavy duty rear suspension (5 leaves) and larger 6.50 x 13 tyres.
The steering was light and the ride surprisingly good, on well-paved roads. The Falcon's 'king-size' drum brakes actually had less lining area than the Zephyr's, but they were stopping a car that was over 100 kg lighter, so were adequate. Whereas the North American model used an 'economy' 3.10 to 1 rear axle ratio, the Australian Falcon was built with a 3.56 to 1 ratio which better complemented the torque characteristics of the engine and yet still allowed a reduction in cruising rpm when compared with the Zephyr.
The station wagon, added to the range in November 1960, was shortened at the rear due to concern that the back of the car might scrape on rough roads and spoon drains.
Billed as being "Australian-with a world of difference", Falcon offered the first serious alternative to Holden, and became an instant success. Sales were aided by the contemporary FB series Holden being perceived as lacklustre and dated by comparison. A 170 cu in engine was introduced late in the model's life.
However, before long, XK sales suffered from complaints about the durability on rough outback roads (due chiefly to collapsing front ball joints, and adjusting shims dropping out of the front suspension, both problems inducing some rather severe front camber); the car earned the unflattering nickname "Foul Can" during this time.
Ford Australia introduced some local design changes to the XL in early 1962, such as a heavier suspension system with components from the Fairlane. Also, the appearance was changed with a new Thunderbird roofline. The slogan was 'Trim, Taut, Terrific'. Nevertheless, the Falcon was still widely perceived as unsuitable for local conditions and sales stagnated. Ford stuck with the Falcon and sales gradually increased over the following years as improvements to durability and reliability were applied.
New for the XL series were the top of the range Falcon Futura Sedan and the Falcon Squire Station Wagon, the latter featuring simulated woodgrain body inserts on the sides and on the tailgate.
The XM, released in 1964, was the first Falcon with an Australian-designed body, the rear tailights were raised for Australian conditions and the front end received a full wrap chrome grill and surrounds. The steering linkage was upgraded with 9/16-inch tie rods instead of the 1/2-inch tie rods found in the US models. The suspension was also improved with the upper control arms lowered to reduce the notorious bump steer found in the US model and early Mustangs, that were based on this model. A new 2 Door Hardtop body style was offered for the first time, in both Falcon Deluxe and Falcon Futura trim levels.
The following model, the XP, saw the Fairmont introduced as an upmarket variant. The XP was the "make or break" Falcon: Ford's future in Australia depended on this car succeeding. Ford's Deputy Managing Director Bill Bourke conceived a promotion for the new model which was a major gamble: demonstrate the XPs strength by mercilessly driving a fleet of XP Falcons around its You-Yangs testing grounds for 70,000 miles at over 70 mph. The gamble paid off with the Falcon winning the prestigious Wheels Car of the Year award. A 3-speed automatic progressively replaced the 2-speed and front disc brakes were introduced as an option (standard on Fairmont and Hardtop models).
This model was also the last to see the Squire range of Ford Falcons which featured wood panels on the side of the wagons, similar to the USA based station wagons. The Fairmont made its debut, mid-way through the model run, as the flagship of the XP Falcon range. It was offered in both sedan and station wagon body styles, replacing the Futura sedan and Squire wagon. Unlike later examples, the XP Fairmonts carried both Falcon & Fairmont badgework.
Additionally in the XP range several cars were modified by Bill Warner to install a 260ci/289ci V8 and a three speed automatic or four speed manuals. These cars are discussed as a precursor to the GT Falcon which debuted in the next model or as XP Falcon Sprint's.
Second generation (1966–1972)
Again, Holden played into Ford's hands: they released the unpopular HD in 1965, which helped stimulate interest in the new Falcon.
The next new model Falcon, the XR series, was introduced in September 1966. Styling was based on the 1966 US Ford Falcon and it was promoted as the "Mustang bred Falcon". It was the first Australian Falcon to be offered with a V8 engine, the 200 bhp, 289 cubic inch (4.7 litres) Windsor unit . The XR marked the first time a V8 engine could be optioned in all trim levels of an Australian car, V8s having previously been reserved for the more up-market variants. The 144 cubic inch (2.4 litre) six cylinder engine was deleted for the XR series leaving the 170 cubic inch (2.8 litre) six as the base Falcon engine . A 200 cubic inch (3.3 litre) six was also available .
The XR series was initially offered in nine different models: Falcon, Falcon 500 and Fairmont Sedans, Falcon, Falcon 500 and Fairmont Wagons, Falcon and Falcon 500 Utilities and the Falcon Van . The new wagons shared the 111 inch wheelbase with the XR sedans, unlike the 1966 US Falcon wagons which featured a 115 inch wheelbase . The Falcon 500 replaced the Falcon Deluxe of the XP series  and the two door hardtop body style available in the XP series was not offered in the XR range .
The Falcon XR won the Wheels Car of the Year award in 1966, giving Ford Falcon two straight wins.
The marketing focus on the Falcon's relationship with the Mustang's sporty appeal led to Ford introducing a Falcon GT variant of the XR in 1967, featuring a 225 bhp version of the 289 cubic inch (4.7 litre) Windsor V8 engine, sourced from the Ford Mustang. The GT heralded the dawn of the Aussie muscle car. All of the original XR GTs were painted in the colour 'GT Gold', except for eight that were "Gallaher Silver" and another five that were "Russet Bronze, Sultan Maroon, Polar White, Avis White and Ivy Green". The non-gold GTs, while having the same specifications, are the rarest of the early Australian muscle cars.
The 1968 XT model featured a mild facelift, with a divided grille, and fog lamps for the GT. The GT also gained narrow pinstripes along the sides of the car. The XT also had a choice of two larger 6 cylinder engines: the 188 cubic inch (3.1 L) and 221 cubic inch (3.6 L), respectively. The 289 cubic inch V8 engine was replaced by a new 302 cubic inch V8.
With the XW in 1969, the GT gained a bigger V8, the 351 cubic inch (5.8 L) Canadian-made Windsor engine, producing 291 hp (217 kW). The GT's styling went wilder with the addition of racing-style bonnet scoop, locks and bonnet blackouts, as well as 'Super Roo' stripes along the full length of the car.
If that wasn't enough indication of Ford's 'Win on Sunday, sell on Monday' racing ambitions, the XW also saw the introduction, in August 1969, of the legendary GTHO specification. The GTHO was a homologation special built for racing. Externally it was almost indistinguishable from a standard GT, but offered a higher performance engine and improved suspension— the 'HO' stood for 'Handling Option'. The Phase I or 'Windsor HO' was fitted with the 351ci Windsor V8 but was replaced a year later with the 351 Cleveland, producing 300 hp (224 kW) in the Phase II GTHO.
The XW also gained a GS ('Grand Sport') option, which could be optioned with the 188ci and 221ci six cylinder, 302ci Windsor V8 but not the 351ci Windsor V8 on Falcon 500, Futura and Fairmont. It offered the same dash as the GT with sports instruments, sport wheel trims and stripes. The GS lasted until the 1978 XC series—one model longer than the GT which finished with the XB.
The venerated XY was released in October 1970. The six cylinders were bigger — 200 cubic inch (3.3L) and 250 cubic inch (4.1L). A 2V (twin venturi) version of the 351 Cleveland V8 an option on all sedans. GTs remain valuable collectors' cars and this is especially true of the XY GT and XY GT-HO, released in 1970.
An upgraded Cleveland, in the 1971 XY GTHO Phase III, produced 385+ bhp (287 kW). The Phase III was Australia's fastest four-door production car, with a top speed of 141.5 mph (227.7 km/h). Power figures are still debated today as Ford still claimed 300 hp as the standard 351 Cleveland V8 in the GT though the GTHO Phase III received many modifications to increase its reliability and race performance.
During the life of the XY model, the uniquely Australian uprated 200, 250 1V and 250 2V variants of the seven-main-bearing 6 cyl. were introduced. Cleveland V8s were imported initially, until the Geelong Foundry began to produce these motors for automatic Falcons in mid 1972. The transmissions included both Ford & Borg-Warner, as did rear axles. The XY is now widely regarded as the best Falcon made in Australia, not just with its Bathurst dominance but also in its performance, build quality and refinement, which was superior to competitors at the time. Current values for XYs compared to other Aussie Falcons, and their competitors, attest to this.
Australia's first production 4-wheel drive car-based vehicle—a utility—was introduced by Ford as an XY model in 1972.
Third generation (1972–1979)
The end of production of the Falcon in the US paved the way for much greater Australian input in the design of Australian-made Falcons, from 1972 onwards, although for several years there was still a distinct resemblance to the US-made Mustang. The XA Falcon, introducing a new hardtop coupe model, burst onto the scene with its distinctive range of paint colours, with purple and wild plum being popular, often ordered with white or black upholstery. The XA Falcon Hardtop bore a strong resemblance to the 1970-71 Ford Torino. The drivetrains carried over from the XY, although the 250 2V was soon dropped, and the 'full-house' GTHO engines no longer required. Ford planned a 'Phase IV' GTHO, but cancelled it in the wake of the so-called 'Supercar Superscare'.
In 1973 the XB Falcon ("The Great Australian Road Car") was introduced with a multi-function control stalk (indicators, high beam, horn) and saw the last of the much sought-after high-performance GT. Engine options were as before, but the 170 bhp six was dropped. Panel Van and Utility trim packages, "Surferoo" and "Surfsider" respectively, were introduced.
In 1976 Ford introduced the XC Falcon, which was the first model to comply with the new pollution regulations specified under Australian Design Rule 27A. This led to locally-produced Cleveland V8s and the introduction of the cross-flow (also called the X-flow) 6cyl. Versions of this engine were produced in America and, in various guises, used in Australian Falcons through to the XF. Its long stroke and large capacity made for very good 'towing' torque, while its thick castings and relatively loose tolerances gave it a reputation for reliability in spite of abuse.
The XC also introduced the country's first locally-produced family sedans with a suspension designed around radial ply tyres. Known as "Touring Suspension" (or 'Sports Handling Suspension'), it initially was standard on the Fairmont GXL sedan (optional on other sedans) until it was made standard equipment on all sedans and hardtops in the 1978 'XC½' facelift. For better handling on station wagons, owners could order the stiffer heavy duty suspension package as a no-cost option.
The Falcon Sundowner Van, based on the Falcon 500 Van, was introduced in 1977. It included options from the Falcon GS Hardtop, such as comprehensive instrumentation, bonnet scoops, slotted sports road wheels and driving lights, but with bodyside protection mouldings and van side glass deleted. Side and rear decals were included in the package, as was the "sedan ride" 500kg (10cwt) suspension package and ER70H14 radial ply tyres.
In 1978 — inspired by a dominating 1-2 finish for Falcon hardtops at the 1977 Hardie Ferodo 1000 — Ford introduced the limited-edition Cobra which used the last 400 Hardtop bodyshells; each Cobra being individually numbered. Based on the Falcon GS Hardtop, it featured highlights such as Globe 15" alloy road wheels copied from Ferrari intended to aid brake disc cooling, ER70H radial ply tyres, comprehensive instrumentation, bonnet scoops, driving lights, dual exhaust, 4-wheel disc brakes and a distinctive white and blue colour scheme. The 5.8 litre engines were installed in cars numbered 002 through 199, and the 4.9 litre engines were installed in the rest (001, plus 200 through 400).
The Falcon, while popular, was usually outsold in Australia by GM Holden's Kingswood until 1978, when it started to gain ground after Holden decided to replace the Kingswood with a smaller model called the Commodore, based on the European Opel models.
Holden gambled that predicted increase of oil prices during this era would drive consumers to choose smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, but the oil price rise never materialised, whilst Ford dealers aggressively pitched the Cortina 6 against the Commodore alternative until the XD Falcon arrived in 1979.
Fourth generation (1979–1988)
Ford's next model Falcon, the XD (Project Blackwood), introduced in 1979, bore many external styling resemblances to the European Ford Granada, but was slightly larger and less luxurious. Improved body reinforcing allowed many reductions in component weight to be made, improving performance and braking. The Fairmont Ghia replaced the GXL.
Initially, as with the first Commodores, quality and fuel consumption concerns dogged the XD. The 1980 introduction of the Alloy Head improved fuel consumption of the ageing OHV six cylinder engine, an engine with its roots in the 1950s. Government pressure, the fuel crisis and more stringent pollution controls began to curtail the development of high performance cars.
With hindsight, the deletion of the bent-eights was the lesser of two evils presented at the time. Ford had considered replacing the Falcon with a smaller front-wheel drive sedan and hatchback, codenamed Capricorn", but by 1981, the success of the Falcon led the project to be cancelled. A four-door version of the European Ford Scorpio, which at the time had only been designed as a five-door hatchback, was also proposed and progressed as far as the clay model stage.
As the fuel crisis eased, Australians moved away from the downsized Commodore back to the traditional full-size Falcon. In 1982, for the first time in more than a decade, the XE Falcon, with its Watts Linkage coil-sprung rear suspension, fuel-saving diff ratios (4.1 L models) and optional 5-speed gearbox, eclipsed its Holden rival in terms of sales. Ford Falcon remained number one seller in Australia until 1988, when Holden returned to the full-size Australian sedan design. Manual transmission was available in 3 speed (in 6 seater), 4 or 5 speeds. Auto transmission was 3 speed in 5 and 6 seater units.
The Australian-assembled V8s were continued until 1982. Ford Australia had built up a large stockpile of V8s intended to last until 1984. After the announcement of the end of the V8 in 1982 however, the stockpile had evaporated by the end of the year. During this period, Ford Australia also built a quantity of 4-bolt 351s — similar to those used in NASCAR at the time — for race purposes in Australia. When the 351's race career ended in 1985, the remains were shipped and sold in the United States.
The 4.1 L EFI six-cylinder was introduced to replace the (4.9 L) V8 but initially produced only 111 kW and 325 Nm of torque, well down from the 149 kW and 415 Nm previously produced by the 5.8 litre V8. The Ford V8s remained absent between 1983 and 1991.
The XF sedan and wagon sold between October 1984 and February 1988 (modified to run on unleaded petrol from January 1986), with the Ute running through to March 1993. The handling and ride were described as competent, but the non-powered steering was heavy at low speeds with an overly strong castor action after performing a manoeuvre such as a U-turn. Power steering (and 4-wheel disc brakes) were made standard in 1986. It remains Ford's best-selling Falcon model to date; over 278,000 XFs were built.
Continuation of the fourth generation commercials (1988–1999)
When the XF Falcon passenger car range was replaced by the redesigned EA series, the XF commercials (utility and panel van) continued unchanged due to there being no EA series versions. The XF commercial models continued unchanged stylistically, but over time would gain the EA series engine updates.
The XG, released in March 1993, represented the most significant update to the Falcon commercials in five years. Aside from a new name—the ute was referred to as the 'Falcon Longreach'—the XG got a new engine, an exterior facelift, and lost the 3 speed column-shift manual transmission (column-Auto remained). Ford Australia added the Longreach name for its tough "workhorse" image, as the birthplace of Qantas and the home of the famous Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame on the boundaries of the outback. The model was introduced to the media in Longreach.
The XG was essentially an EBII update of the XF. It gained the EBII's 4.0L OHC inline six-cylinder engine, with either a five-speed manual or four-speed auto transmissions, meaning Ford could retire the old engine and transmission options. It also gained interior updates from the EB including the instrument cluster, centre console (in two seater models), steering wheel, seats. Exterior changes were minimal, and included an EB style grill, black window trims (as opposed to chrome on XF 's) EB style door 'rubbing' strips, and indicator lights on the front quarter panels.
An XR6 model was released in October 1993. Over the standard model, it gained the ED's XR6 161 kW engine, distinctive quad headlights, indicators in the front bumper (due to the different headlights), sportier suspension, ED XR6 seats and trim, ED XR6 15in five spoke alloy wheels and exterior badging. 1050 XR6s were sold between October 1993 and March 1996.
The XH series Falcon utility and van, released in 1996,  were essentially XG models facelifted to resemble the contemporary Falcon EF sedans & wagons. By this time, the popularity of the panel van had faded and Ford released their final Falcon panel van in 1997 as part of the revised XH2 series. It was also with this model that the V8 engine was re-introduced into the Falcon commercial vehicle range.
Fifth generation (1988–1998)
As a result of an AU$700 million development the Ford EA Falcon, introduced in 1988, bore a passing resemblance to the European Ford Scorpio. However under the skin, it remained an entirely Australian design, and is credited as the first Falcon model to employ wind tunnel testing. The EA was also only produced in sedan and station wagon body styles, with the previous-model (XF) utility and panel van continuing in production.
Engine choices comprised three straight-six engines: the short-lived, CFI 3.2 litre, a 3.9 litre, as well as a 3.9 litre multi-point. A five-speed T50D fully synchronised manual and Borg-Warner Model M51 three-speed automatic transmission were offered, however the latter was replaced by a four-speed BTR Model 85LE in the Series II range then updated to the BTR 95LE in the EB update in 1991. Taxi owners, however, would continue to fit reconditioned 3-speed M51 automatic transmissions (as these were less costly) to these cars, until the bellhousing design was finally changed in later models preventing this practice.
The EA Falcon was available in four trim levels: the base model was named GL and was equipped with the 3.2 L straight-six, although most GLs were sold with the 3.9 CFI. The 3.9 L CFI engine was available in the sporty Falcon S and in the luxurious Fairmont; the MPI version was standard only in the top of the range Fairmont Ghia.
The EA Falcon, released under the codename EA26 (E for the large size, A for Australia, 26 for the (usually in sequence) global project number), would retain the traditional Falcon hallmarks of width and rear-wheel drive. This proved to be the correct move as sales of the Falcon began to climb after the fuel crisis aftermath, while those of the rival Commodore slipped. It became clear that Australian buying patterns had not truly changed and what the public wanted was a full-size (albeit smaller) family car.
In addition, Ford's dominance of the taxi market in Australia meant that a car that could comfortably seat three along the back seat—and even the front, with a bench seat installed—was necessary. It also ensured that Ford could retain, at least until Holden released the new Statesman in the late 1980s, the market for official cars for governmental use.
While initially popular, the EA ultimately proved unreliable (like the VN Commodore released after it), and corporate competitiveness proved to be the downfall. From the start the EA possessed all the trademarks of a car released onto the market too early: uneven panel shutlines, computer problems, poor paint quality and front suspension alignment problems. Sulphurous exhaust fumes, a by-product of the conversion of engines to run on unleaded petrol, had been a problem with the Falcon (and many other makes) since 1986, causing sooted-up rear exhaust systems which prematurely corroded.
Launched in October 1989, the Series II brought with it a four-speed automatic transmission, body-coloured B-pillars, and the 3.2 litre engine was dropped. Despite the Series II models having significantly fewer problems than the Series I, Series II prices are also affected by curtailed resale values. The same problem also affects the NA Fairlane and DA series LTD, and even the ute and panel van variants, which persisted with the older XF architecture.
Visually the 1991 Ford EB Falcon remained nearly identical to its predecessor. The most noticeable change was the transfer of the Ford emblem from the tip of the bonnet to the grille. Additionally the air vents in C-pillars had been abolished, and reversing lamps were featured on either side of the rear number plate. The return of the V8 engine was welcomed by the motoring press, however the 5.0 litre Windsor unit did not reappear in the utility variants until the "EF-shaped" XH series of 1997. There were also changes to the front suspension geometry, giving the EB a much better level of grip and steering feel. With the new model, Ford re-introduced the sports orientated GT specification level, an exclusive 250 unit run celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first original Falcon GT. The first XR6 and XR8 sports models appeared in the EB Series.
The radically different Series II model, appearing in showrooms in April 1992, saw the six-cylinder engine upsized by 35 cubic centimetres (from 3949 cc to 3984 cc). This brought the nominal total swept capacity to 4.0 litres. The transmission and electronics were also improved, and there were tweaks to the styling. The base model now had body-coloured bumpers, and the previously matte black plastic exterior door handles were now given a glossy finish. The update reportedly cost AU$1 million.
Innovation became an evident strength in the EBII: anti-lock brakes became an option, a Falcon first, and in 1993, a lap sash centre rear seatbelt became standard. The EB also introduced the "Smartlock" security locking system. South Australian Police revealed the operational success of "Smartlock", by inviting four professional car thieves to steal an EB specified with the locking system. The thieves were unsuccessful at their attempt, giving up after four days. Foam-filled A-pillars also featured, which greatly increased crush protection and stiffened the frame, thus helping to reduce Noise, Vibration, and Harshness.
The Ford ED Falcon came in response to Holden's new VR Commodore in 1993. The front grille was now elliptical to differentiate it from the EB, and the sports genre (XR6, and XR8) gained an exclusive quad headlamp cluster. Making a comeback in the ED range was the Futura. The safety orientated Futura was marketed towards private buyers, and was equipped with cruise control, anti-lock brakes, and featured body-coloured mirrors. Unlike previous models, the luxurious Fairmont Ghia trim level was not available in station wagon form.
When the Ford EF Falcon was introduced in August 1994, it brought with it a new curvaceous body shape, sharing only the front and rear doors with the EA–ED series, but with a new door handle design. Unlike the sedan, the station wagon inherited the rear styling of the ED series. With the new model, came a thoroughly redesigned interior. Cup holders were now prominent features in all models, and Ford paid particular attention to safety. A driver's airbag was made standard on all variants, a first for an Australian car, even though the Holden VR Commodore was the first to feature it as an option. From the outside, the reinforced body gave added rollover strength and front collision protection. An original innovation introduced in the EF range was the "Smart Bar". A bullbar developed to work seamlessly with the vehicle's airbag system.
The 4.0 litre inline six-cylinder engine was upgraded to aid refinement and increase power to 157 kilowatts (211 hp) this included the removal of the distributor as it was replaced with a coil-pack ignition system which was a first for the Falcon. Also the intake manifold was changed to include a dual length system which involved intake runners of 2 different lengths and a valve to switch between the 2.  Changes were also made to the suspension with the aim of providing a more supple ride, but drew criticism for producing nervous handling and an unsettling feeling of roll oversteer (a problem not corrected until the EL facelift).
A passenger airbag was offered as an option in the Series II facelift of October 1995. The unique design allowed it to protect the not only the front passenger, but the centre passenger as well (only the entry-level GLi was offered with the optional bench seat). The Fairmont Ghia was the only trim level to receive dual airbags as standard, which also benefited from the XR6 engine, leather upholstery, extensive use of chrome and lowered suspension. With the use of neoprene rubber insulation, road and wind noise was cut off from within the cabin, contributing to vehicle refinement. Ford also dropped the XR6 station wagon from the lineup in the Series II.
The EF Series II also saw the first use of polycarbonate headlight lenses instead of glass, saving weight and gaining shatter resistance.
The final E-series model, the Ford EL Falcon, was merely a facelift of the EF intended to keep sales strong until the sixth generation AU falcon was launched. The most obvious change visually, was the return of the grille on the GLi and Futura spec levels. The new oval grille tied in with Ford's global lineup of the time. Cosmetic updates extended further with the bonnet, front bumper and headlamps also receiving a revised design. New grilles were now prominent on the luxury variants (Fairmont and Fairmont Ghia), and the quad-headlamps of the XR sport models gained minor changes. New wheel trims were featured on all trim levels, and station wagon variants gained white tinted indicator lenses, replacing the amber tint which had been common since the introduction of the EA.
With the EL there was a revision again with the engine this time the distributor was refitted and the coil-pack ignition removed, though power was the same.
To address handling concerns with the EF, improvements were made to the rear suspension and steering which would largely be attributed to Ford Australia's association with Tickford. Speed-sensitive power steering on the Fairmont Ghia made parking more straightforward, without compromising high speed steering. With the exception of the GLi, the entire range was fitted with standard Bosch 5.3 ABS brakes, and an advanced window film known as "Smart Tint" gave equivalent protection levels of SPF15 sunscreen.
Interior upgrades ranged from reshaped seats and headrests, to new colour schemes, and switches. Station wagons could now be ordered with third-row accommodation and an electric network for mobile phone usage.
Sixth generation (1998–2008)
The radically redesigned Ford AU Falcon was released in 1998. Initially, the company looked at various other Ford products such as the Ford Taurus, Mazda 929, and the European Scorpio as replacements for the Falcon. After serious evaluation, Ford Australia decided to continue with the Falcon, partly because of the investment required and the effect on local employment. Developed under the code name "EA169", AU adopted Ford's New Edge styling, which was meant to differentiate it from the "conformist" styling prevalent in the 1990s. The gamble, which had worked with the Ford Focus, did not particularly endear the AU Falcon to its buyers. Ford attempted to address the AUs issues in its Series II (April 2000) and Series III (November 2001) updates, which brought minor styling changes, such as the abolition of the unpopular "waterfall" shaped grille on the base model Forte. A laminated firewall was implemented to reduce NVH, and the V8 received incremental power upgrades among other things. AU failed to meet initial sales targets, repeatedly being outsold by its chief rival, the Holden VT Commodore..
Officially debuting in September 2002, the Ford BA Falcon was a major update of the AU, with Ford designers and engineeers almost wiping the board clean, and in the process spending just over $500 million, a figure much larger than previously anticipated. The BA falcon won the prestigious Wheels Car of the Year Award (COTY) in 2002. Major elements of the overhaul included the development of a more effective Control-Blade independent rear suspension, a significant revamp of the car's inline 6-cylinder engine as well as 2 new V8 engines and, to top it all off, new transmissions. Design wise, the BA received a completely new look, with designers giving both the front and rear quarters of the car substantial work, resulting in much more contemporary , European-style design. The BA also introduced a thoroughly remodelled interior, whereby the 'oval shaped' instrument cluster was replaced with a more conservatively styled cluster. It featured a large LCD screen, situated in a "satin finished" centre console (Called the "Interior Command Centre" or ICC in short). Within a year of its release, Falcon sales had increased substantially and, for a time, eclipsed Holden Commodore sales.
Ford introduced their new Barra straight-6 engines into the lineup, which included a turbocharged version. The BA also featured a new North American designed 5.4 litre Boss V8 engine. The Boss engine was smoother, quieter and more fuel efficient than the Ford Windsor engine used in the AU. In October 2004, Ford unleashed the Mark II update of the BA. Amongst the changes was a six-speed manual transmission, four new exterior colours, and revised wheels trims.
In 2004 Ford introduced the Territory SUV which was based upon the BA's engine, floorpan and IRS. This was introduced in response to the long term decline in large sedan sales in Australia, since this sector's share of the total market has been steadily shrinking for a decade.
Visually similar to its forerunner, the Ford BF Falcon was developed with an emphasis geared more towards powertrain enhancements, rather than design. Motoring journalists were quick to point out the lack of visual differentiation between BA and BF, however, BF did receive vast mechanical upgrades, including engine modifications. The engine gained increases in power, and fuel economy was improved, to comply with Euro III emission standards, and in increases in power.
Long a Falcon weakness was the continued use of a four-speed automatic transmission originating from the 1980s. With the October 2005 update, Ford introduced a six-speed ZF 6HP26 automatic and Electronic Stability Control, both of which were made available on selected trim levels.
In response to General Motors investing a billion dollars in development of the Holden VE Commodore, Ford updated its Falcon lineup with the Mark II update in October 2006. Certain trim levels in the BFII range (XT, Futura and Fairmont) saw a modified front-end, which featured more of a sporting image. The entry-level XT could now be specified with the six-speed automatic, however the prevailing four-speeder continued as the standard transmission. Fuel efficiency figures also improved, with figures of 10.7 L/100 km (22.0 mpg U.S., 26.4 mpg U.K.) for the base XT.
The BF will continue to be built during 2008 and onwards, only in Wagon form. All sedans/utes will be available in the FG series from May onwards.
Seventh generation (2008–)
The seventh generation Falcon, known as the 'FG', was announced at a press event on 17 February 2008. The FG moniker references the now discontinued Fairmont Ghia). The longstanding Futura and Fairmont models have been discontinued, being replaced by the G6 and G6E models respectively. The Fairmont V8 has been replaced by the G6E Turbo.
The inline six-cylinder engine receives a power upgrade of 5 kW and 8Nm to 195 kW at 6000 rpm and 391 Nm at 3250 rpm. The engine can also use 95 RON fuel, which will add 3 kW and 18Nm. The turbocharged engine used in the XR6 Turbo and G6E Turbo models produces 270 kW and 533Nm. The power output of 270 kW is similar to previous FPV turbos, but it is a substantially modified design:[verification needed] the new induction system which includes a bigger and more efficient intercooler, higher compression ratio, extra boost and strengthened internals are the key changes. The XT, G6 and G6E also have an E-Gas (LPG) option. The engine continues to use a similar VCT system as its BA/BF predecessors. Fuel consumption has been improved over the outgoing model  .
A carry over wagon known as the BFIII sells along side the FG sedan range and is available only in XT guise. It will be powered by the BF's 4.0 litre engine and 4 speed transmission. The XR8 will be the only V8 model in the FG Falcon lineup (Ford Performance Vehicles, however, produces a number of V8 powered models). Higher-end models also feature the wireless Bluetooth integration for mobiles and full iPod integration. The XR8 will feature the previous generation GT's V8 engine, which produces 290 kW and 520 Nm.
The XR6 Turbo has more power than most of its Holden rivals. The XR6 and XR8 models do not look as aggressive as the FPV range, but have kept their sporting heritage. As part of the European appearance Mercedes-Benz styled side mirror indicators are installed on the FPV range and the G6E models, instead of the original side panel mount.
The new FPV engines are more powerful then ever, and also more fuel efficient. The F6's 4.0 L inline 6 cylinder turbo engine now has 310 kW of power which is a 40 kW upgrade over its FPV predecessor, the Typhoon. The GT's 5.4 L V8 now has 315 kW of power.
The first update to the FG is scheduled to be released in 2010. The original programme was called "Huntsman" but it was cancelled in July 2007 with Ford announcing that they would cease production of the locally manufactured straight-6 engine in 2010 and replace it with the imported Ford Cyclone engine, a V6.
Ford have since announced that they would continue production of their staight-6 engine at the Geelong engine plant, saving over a thousand jobs and the unique engine (a point of differentiation from the competing Holden Commodore which adopted a V6 design in 1988). The engine will be updated to improve fuel economy and meet Euro IV emissions standards.
The Australian affection for the ute (short for "utility") allowed the Falcon to serve as the base model for their line of utes and panel vans, starting in 1961 and gaining rapid recognition by (usually younger) enthusiasts by the mid-1960s. As the base sedan and station wagon models of the Falcon further evolved, so too did the ute and panel van models, although usually up to a year or so after initial release into the market.
The Falcon is the only Australian ute which can be purchased with a bench 3-passenger seat but the 3-seaters were available only in automatic transmission in models after the XF.
The only exception was the XF series, which lasted through the initial EA26 era. While EA26 ute prototypes were actually built, the XF shell continued through to the 1998 release of the AU model, in 1996 gaining the nose treatment of the then current EF series Falcon, with a combination of XF and E-Series Interiors. Low Series XH utes didn't have Airbags, for example.
The Falcon Ute is the closest equivalent to a modern Ford Ranchero.
Exports to other countries
Australian Falcon exports have traditionally been confined to right-hand-drive countries in the Asia-Pacific region, such as New Zealand (where Ford New Zealand sometimes devised local trim models, such as the Falcon 600), and Pacific Island nations like Papua New Guinea and Fiji. New Zealand assembly of the Falcon in Wiri ceased in the early 1990s, after which, all Falcons sold in New Zealand have been fully imported from Australia.
The only significant export market for the Falcon outside of Oceania has been South Africa, where it was released in 1996 after an absence of over 20 years, but was dropped in 2003. Some limousines and hearses (inc. LPG-only powered Utes) are exported to the UK by Coleman Milne, who used to convert European-made Granadas and Scorpios for the same purposes.
Hong Kong also imported a small batch of LPG-powered AU Falcon station wagons for trial as taxis, and although it initially found favour in luggage capacity with operators when compared to mainstream taxis like the Toyota Comfort, it has not seen success there, citing higher operating costs.
In contrast to the rival Holden Commodore, which has been produced in left-hand drive for export, the Australian Ford Falcon has only been produced in right-hand drive. Ford had intended developing the car with left hand drive export potential, and received federal and state government grants to assist, but in October 2007 it was announced by Ford Australia president Tom Gorman that the left-hand-drive Falcon project was to be abandoned and the export incentive grant money would be directed to the Ford Focus. As Orion will utilize much of the Falcon's existing architecture, converting it to left hand drive would have been a costly and time consuming process.
Consequently, Ford is now exploring the idea of exporting or at least incorporating common engineering of the Falcon to North America. The US press has observed that "Australia has become the place to find the quintessential American muscle sedan" and noted these cars "could save Ford now, if they were for sale in North America." Had the Falcon been for sale in North America, it would likely replace the Ford Crown Victoria in the full-size, rear wheel drive sedan market. Comparing the Australian LTD to the Crown Victoria, the LTD is shorter (202 vs. 212 inches), about as heavy (4096 vs 4157 lb), has a 5.4L V8 with more power (it has 308 hp (230 kW) vs 224 hp (167 kW) for civilian, and 250 hp (186 kW) for police version). Falcons would also likely fill the Crown Victoria's roles of police interceptors and taxicabs in North America, a role they commonly play in Australia. By June 2007, magazines such as Motor Trend reported that Ford would share platforms to replace rear-drive vehicles in both Australia and North America, including the Mustang and full-sized sedans, and possibly importing vehicles from North America to replace low-volume long-wheelbase Falcon derivatives.
Ford Australia has stated that they have considered exporting the FG Falcon to China and the Middle East.
Notes and references
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- "Market place", Wheels magazine (Australian Consolidated Press): 134, September 2007
- "Ford Falcon Celebrates 45th Birthday". Motoring Channel Staff. 2005-06-28. http://www.webwombat.com.au/motoring/news_reports/ford-falcon-45th-birthday.htm. Retrieved on 2007-06-29.
- "Ford Falcon XK". Unique Cars and Parts. http://www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au/car_info_ford_falcon_xk.htm. Retrieved on 2007-06-15.
- Bushby, A. C. (1989). The Australian Ford Falcon. A.C. Bushby. ISBN 073163621X.
- "Ford Falcon XL". Unique Cars and Parts. http://www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au/car_info_ford_falcon_xl.htm. Retrieved on 2007-06-29.
- "Ford Falcon XP". Unique Cars and Parts. http://www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au/car_info_ford_falcon_xp.htm. Retrieved on 2007-06-29.
- Local Falcon gets V8!, Wheels magazine, January 1965, http://www.stormloader.com/falconccwa/temphint.htm, retrieved on 6 February 2008
- Falcon XR technical_specifications Retrieved from www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au on 5 January 2009
- Norm Darwin, The History of Ford in Australia, 1986, page 160
- Wheels magazine (Australian Consolidated Press), October 1971
- Jennings, Bob (2000-04-17). "The Falcon that never was". Fairfax Digital. http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=1371&vf=1. Retrieved on 2007-11-05.
- XH Falcon Retrieved from Falcon Facts on 3 February 2009
- "Ford Falcon EA". Unique Cars and Parts. http://www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au/car_info_ford_falcon_ea.htm. Retrieved on 2007-06-06.
- "EA Falcon (1988 - 1991)". Falcon Facts. http://www.geocities.com/falconfacts/falcon/eafalcon.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-06.
- Morley, David (2004-06-08). "Ford Falcon EA". Fairfax Digital. http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=5272&vf=1. Retrieved on 2007-06-06.
- "Used car test - Ford Fairlane". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1999-02-26. http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=8330&vf=24. Retrieved on 2007-05-14.
- "EB Falcon (1991 - 1993)". Falcon Facts. http://www.geocities.com/falconfacts/falcon/ebfalcon.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-06.
- Warner, Gary. "Falcon GT - style and substance (if you can find one)". FastLane. http://www.fastlane.com.au/reviews/gtstyle.htm. Retrieved on 2007-09-18.
- "Ford Falcon EB". Unique Cars and Parts. http://www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au/car_info_ford_falcon_eb.htm. Retrieved on 2008-02-15.
- "ED Falcon (1993 - 1994)". Falcon Facts. http://www.geocities.com/falconfacts/falcon/edfalcon.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-08.
- "Ford Falcon ED". Unique Cars and Parts. http://www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au/car_info_ford_falcon_ed.htm. Retrieved on 2007-06-08.
- "EF Falcon (1994 - 1996)". Falcon Facts. http://www.geocities.com/falconfacts/falcon/effalcon.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-09.
- Smith, Graham (2002-09-06). "1993 Holden VR Commodore". Herald Sun. http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,20384,5037260-26236,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-02-21.
- "EL Falcon (1996 - 1998)". Falcon Facts. http://www.geocities.com/falconfacts/falcon/elfalcon.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-08.
- "The good, the bad, the Falcon". Fairfax Digital. http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=752&vf=1. Retrieved on 2007-06-04.
- "Falcon Raises the Bar". Web Publications. 2000-04-05. http://www.autoweb.com.au/cms/A_52356/title_Falcon%20Raises%20the%20Bar/newsarticle.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-05.
- "BA Falcon Interior Reveal". Web Publications. 2002-09-05. http://www.autoweb.com.au/cms/A_55182/title_BA%20Falcon%20Interior%20Reveal/newsarticle.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-02.
- "Number Crunching", Wheels magazine: 155, November 2003
- "BA Falcon Engine Reveal". Web Publications. 2002-09-05. http://autoweb.com.au/cms/A_55183/newsarticle.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-02.
- Torr, Feann. "BA Ford Falcon MkII: First Look". WebWombat. http://www.webwombat.com.au/motoring/news_reports/ford-falcon-mk2.htm. Retrieved on 2007-06-02.
- Torr, Feann (2005-10-20). "Road Test: BF Ford Falcon". WebWombat. http://www.webwombat.com.au/motoring/news_reports/ford-falcon-bf-review.htm. Retrieved on 2007-06-03.
- Hepworth, Kevin (2006-10-04). "Ford Falcon BF II: pricing, testdrive". News Digital Media. http://carsguide.news.com.au/site/research/story/ford_falcon_bf_ii_pricing_testdrive/. Retrieved on 2007-06-03.
- Weekend Australian 9-10 August 2008
- Pettendy, Marton (2007-07-11). "V6 for Falcon". John Mellor. http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf/story2/A704A58405FCB68ECA257315000E36BE. Retrieved on 2007-07-11.
- "Jobs saved as Ford decides to keep Geelong engine plant open". http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,27753,24679997-31037,00.html.
- Newton, Bruce (2007-10-22). "Ford abandons export plans for new Falcon". Fairfax Digital. http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=44891. Retrieved on 2007-11-05.
- Hutton, Ray; Robinson, Aaron (June 2006). "Fords that could save Ford now, if they were for sale in North America.". Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.. http://www.caranddriver.com/features/all/2006/2006_ford_falcon_fpv_gt_boss_290_falcon_xr6_turbo_focus_st_and_territory_ghia_awd_feature/(page)/1. Retrieved on 2008-02-21.
- Ford hopes to export FG Falcon The Press 28 April 2008