Ford EL Falcon

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Ford EL Falcon
1997 Ford EL Falcon GLi
ManufacturerFord Motor Company of Australia
Also calledFord EL Fairmont
AssemblyCampbellfield, Victoria, Australia
PredecessorFord EF Falcon
SuccessorFord AU Falcon
ClassFull-size car
Body style(s)4-door sedan
5-door station wagon
PlatformFR EA26
Engine(s)4.0 L I6
5.0 L Windsor V8
Transmission(s)5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase2791 mm (109.9 in)
LengthSedan: 4906 mm (193.1 in)
Station wagon: 5055 mm (199 in)
Width1861 mm (73.3 in)
Height1453 mm (57.2 in)
Curb weightSedan: 1536 kg (3386 lb)–1704 kg (3757 lb)
Station wagon: 1600 kg (3527 lb)
RelatedFord DL LTD
Ford NL Fairlane
ManualsService Manual

The Ford EL Falcon is a full-size car that was manufactured by the Ford Motor Company of Australia between 1996 and 1998. The EL Falcon served as the final chapter of the fifth generation "E-series" architecture, which began with the EA of 1988.[1] Ford discontinued the car in 1998, and replaced it with the AU.[2] In its lifetime, the EL was one of the most popular Falcons produced; Ford sold more ELs over two years, than it did AUs over four years.

Ford spent AU$40 million for the development of the EL.[2] At launch, it was the only Australian-built car equipped with a driver's air bag standard across the board, with a passenger airbag available as an extra cost option.[3] Also like its predecessors, the EL Falcon was used largely as a police car and played a dominant role in the Australian taxi industry.[4]


The EL served as a facelift of its predecessor, the EF Falcon, which began production in 1994. The "E-series" architecture can trace its roots back to 1988 with the EA.[1] Ford introduced a number of improvements aimed at extending the life of the "E-series" body while the AU Falcon was being developed, which resulted in the highest ever annual sales of a Falcon.

Facelift and upgrades

Compared to the EF, the most obvious visual change was the return of the front grille for GLi and Futura models. The grille itself was now elliptical in shape, a trait shared by other Ford models available at the time. The overall effect was to give the front of the car a rounded visual theme, continuing a shift away from the angular aero style of the early "E-series" models. From the rear, amber indicators were fitted on the base sedan models, with white lenses reserved for the luxury and station wagons. The performance models (XR6 and XR8) saw revised quad headlights.[5]

Interior upgrades came in the form of reshaped seats and headrests, new colour schemes and switches. Third-row seating, a cargo barrier, and preinstalled wiring to accommodate mobile phone usage were made available as options for the station wagon variants. Additionally, all models were fitted with an advanced window film know as Smart Tint, which claimed to provide equivalent protection levels of SPF15 sunscreen.[5] For improved vehicle refinement, thicker glass was installed to lessen wind noise and a further insulation was added in the dashboard to produce a quieter ride.[6]


Buyers of the introductory GLi (pictured), Futura and Fairmont had the option of both sedan and station wagon body styles. Compared to EB–EF station wagons, ELs are differentiated by white as opposed to amber rear turn signals.

The EL introduced only minor running changes to the Falcon's base model straight-six engine, when compared to the radical overhaul presented by the EF. The coil-pack ignition system introduced in the EF was rolled back to the distributor-style ignition from the ED Falcon due to reliability problems. A divided air induction pipe which led to the throttle was replaced with a single, wider pipe.[7] Engine output remained unchanged at 157 kilowatts (211 hp) and 357 newton metres (263 ft·lbf). In October 1997, the V8 engine fitted to the XR8 sports model was upgraded from 170 kilowatts (228 hp) to 185 (248 hp). Torque figures were also upped from 398 newton metres (294 ft·lbf) to 402 (296 ft·lbf).[8][5]

Handling and braking

The EL bought with it improvements to braking and handling. Speed-sensitive power steering on the Fairmont Ghia made parking more straightforward, without compromising high-speed steering.[5] With the introduction of the new model, buyers could now purchase a Falcon with standard (optional on GLi) anti-lock brakes featuring the latest Bosch 5.3 module. Perhaps the biggest advancement with the EL was the improvements to the handling woes of the EF, with improvements established to the suspension and steering.[5] Engineers at Tickford had discovered that by lowering the pivot point of the Watt's linkages in the rear suspension by 20 millimetres (0.8 in), that the roll oversteer effect which plagued the EF could finally be eliminated. Previously on EF models, during hard cornering the rear end of the car often felt as if it could not keep up with the front, due to the difference in roll rate between the front and rear suspension. The result of this produced unpredictable car handling at times, where the delayed weight transfer at the rear would seek to damage the integrity of the outside rear tyre grip. This was exaggerated even further in wet weather or on vehicles fitted with poor tyres. Although this problem was addressed to a degree in the EFII update, it was the EL that became the first base level Falcon to feature a rear suspension setup that would complement the precision of rack and pinion steering introduced in the EA Falcon eight years earlier. The improved suspension geometry allowed Ford to soften the spring rates on both front and rear on the EL for a more compliant ride, as the driver no longer had roll oversteer to contain.[9]

Specification levels

A driver's airbag, a Compact Cassette player and power steering were standard fitment on the base model GLi (pictured).

Ten variants of the EL were produced, six-cylinder variants came standard with a five-speed manual, with the option of a four-speed automatic transmission. With the exception of the XR8, which could be purchased with the five-speed manual, all V8s were fitted with the four-speed automatic.[10]

Base models

The GLi was the most basic model Falcon, selling well with fleets.[11] Its features list was identical to that of the previous model, which included Ford's straight-six engine, with an option of upgrading to the Windsor V8.[12] The slightly more equipped Futura features ABS brakes, front power windows, and a number of luxury features, like back seat headrests and an enhanced sound system. To distinguish it from the GLi, body-coloured components replaced the black plastic type.[13] Regardless of the model chosen, an optional dual fuel tank could be fitted to run on both autogas and petrol, with the transmission limited to the four-speed automatic.[12]

Sapphire, Classic, and Falcon S

In a bid to win buyers from Holden's VT Commodore, Ford introduced a series of limited edition models. The Sapphire II (pictured) added 15 inches (380 mm) alloy wheels, metallic paint and air conditioning to the standard GLi at no extra cost.[5]

Ford introduced the Sapphire shortly after Holden debuted the VT Commodore in 1997, in a bid to make the EL more competitive. The name was reused from the Ford Sierra Sapphire sedan sold in Europe and New Zealand. It was a limited edition model and had two variants based on either the GLi or the Futura, fitted with additional features, however the list differed depending on the base model chosen. All Sapphires had 15-inch (380 mm) alloy wheels and metallic paint as standard.[14] Other responses to the VT Commodore were the Classic and Falcon S models. Similarly to the Sapphire, they too were limited edition variants based on either the GLi or Futura.[5] Standard for the Falcon S included a six-stack CD player, air conditioning, and alloy wheels which were identical to those fitted to the XR6 and XR8 models of the earlier ED Falcon range.[15] Later, in March 1998, just before the launch of the AU Falcon, a Sapphire II was introduced.[5]

Sports models

The V8-powered XR8 (pictured) shares its unique four headlamp fascia with the six-cylinder XR6.

The biggest difference between the so called "XR series" performance versions were the engines; the XR6 and XR8 boasted a 164 kilowatt (220 hp) six-cylinder and a 170 kilowatt (228 hp) V8 respectively.[6] The V8 was later upgraded to output 185 kilowatts (248 hp) in October 1997.[16] The upgraded transmission and exhaust system were unique to the XR range, as was the exterior styling with an XR exclusive quad headlamp assembly giving the vehicle a higher degree of aggression when compared to the look possessed by the other variants. Both models came standard with limited slip differential and specially tuned suspension. Body kits were also installed to improve the aesthetics and the aerodynamics.[6] Tracing its roots back to 1976 with the XB model, the flagship sports sedan known as the GT made its resurrection in the EL. Despite this, a limited run of GTs were also offered in the earlier EB range. The GT had a Tickford 5.0 litre V8, producing 200 kilowatts (268 hp) of power. Unlike what was first anticipated, the 30th anniversary GT was based loosely on the Fairmont Ghia rather than the XR models, with only 250 built.[17]

Luxury models

Chrome highlights, 16 inch alloy wheels, and velour upholstery individualise the luxury-oriented Fairmont (pictured) from the mainstream and sport models.

Along with the base and sports models, Ford also marketed two luxury-orientated variants. The cheaper of the two, known as the Fairmont employed the same six-cylinder engine as the Futura and GLi, but was complimented by the addition of cruise control, automatic climate control air conditioning and a trip computer. A number of changes were made to the exterior to distinguish the Fairmont from other models. Most noticeably, was the more prominent front grille which was accommodated by a larger bonnet bulge and different headlamps.[18]

The Fairmont Ghia offered a combination of luxury and performance, which was emphasised most effectively by making use of the six-cylinder engine fitted to the XR6, with the V8 remaining optional. Due to the implementation of a quieter exhaust, the Ghia suffered from a slight loss in output compared to the XR6. Limited slip differential provided better handling than the Fairmont, as did improved power steering. Equipment wise, the Fairmont Ghia gained a more powerful, nine-speaker stereo system, a passenger airbag and leather upholstery.[19]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Ford EL Falcon Futura wagon (1996-1998)". GoAuto. John Mellor. Retrieved on 2007-09-25. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Smith, Graham (2002-08-09). "1996-98 Ford EL Falcon". Herald Sun. News Limited.,20384,4862816-26236,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-09-13. 
  3. "EL Falcon: An Introduction". True Blue Ford. Retrieved on 2007-09-13. 
  4. "Second-hand Savers". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 1999-02-25. Retrieved on 2007-09-25. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 "EL Falcon (1996 - 1998)". Falcon Facts. Retrieved on 2007-09-15. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "EL Falcon - XR6 & XR8 specs". True Blue Ford. Retrieved on 2007-09-15.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "XR6 & XR8" defined multiple times with different content
  7. Knowling, Michael (2004-08-11). "Awakening the Aussie Ford Six - Part One". AutoSpeed. Web Publications. Retrieved on 2007-09-16. 
  8. "EF Falcon (1994 - 1996)". Falcon Facts. Retrieved on 2007-09-15. 
  9. Kenwright, Joe (2004-09-01). "Ford Falcon GLi EF-EL". CarPoint. ninemsn. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. 
  10. "Big bloke in a shiny suit". Fairfax Media. 2000-03-24. Retrieved on 2007-09-25. 
  11. "Car review - Ford Falcon GLi sedan". GoAuto. John Mellor. Retrieved on 2007-10-17. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "EL Falcon - GLi specs". True Blue Ford. Retrieved on 2007-09-13. 
  13. "EL Falcon - Futura specs". True Blue Ford. Retrieved on 2007-09-15. 
  14. "EL Falcon 'Sapphire' Specifications:". True Blue Ford. Retrieved on 2007-09-18. 
  15. "EL Falcon 'S'". True Blue Ford. Retrieved on 2007-09-18. 
  16. "The sounds of sibling rivalry". Fairfax Media. 1999-03-12. Retrieved on 2007-09-25. 
  17. Warner, Gary. "Falcon GT - style and substance (if you can find one)". FastLane. Retrieved on 2007-09-18. 
  18. "1996 Ford Fairmont". Red Book. Retrieved on 2007-09-24. 
  19. "EL Falcon - Fairmont Ghia specs:". True Blue Ford. Retrieved on 2007-09-24.