Ford Falcon (North America)

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This article is about the North American car model. For models produced for other countries, see Ford Falcon.
Ford Falcon
Ford Falcon Emblem.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1960–1970
Body and chassis
Class Compact
Layout FR layout
Chronology
Successor Ford Maverick

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-door 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.[1]

History[edit]

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.[2]

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 European cars such as Volkswagens 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, cheaper car. Thus, all three introduced compacts: the Valiant from Chrysler (becoming the Plymouth Valiant in 1961), GM's rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair, 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.

First generation (1960–1963)[edit]

First Generation
1963 Ford Falcon.jpg
Overview
Production 1960–1963
Assembly Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Claycomo, Missouri
San Jose, California
Cuautitlán, Mexico
Campbellfield, Victoria, Australia
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door sedan
4-door sedan
3-door station wagon
5-door station wagon
2-door hardtop
2-door convertible
2-door coupe utility
2-door sedan delivery
Related Ford Falcon Ranchero
Mercury Comet
Ford Frontenac
Ford Falcon Van
Ford XK Falcon (Australia)
Ford XL Falcon (Australia)
Powertrain
Engine 144 cu in (2.4 L) 85 hp I6
170 cu in (2.8 L) 101 hp I6
260 cu in (4.3 L) V8
Transmission 2-speed automatic
3-speed manual
4-speed manual
Dimensions
Length 181 in (4,597 mm)[3]
Width 70.1 in (1,781 mm)[4]
Height 54.4 in (1,382 mm)

The 1960 Falcon 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, with coil springs in front and leaf springs in the rear. Brakes were drum all round.[5] A three-speed manual column shift was standard, the two-speed Ford-O-Matic automatic optional. There was room for six passengers in reasonable comfort in the simple interior.[6] Body styles included 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.

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.[7] They stayed until 1965.[8]

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,[9] 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, an 8-passenger, flat-front, van.[10] Ford also promoted that in a Mobilgas economy run, the Falcon got 32.5mpg.[11]

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) 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.

1963½ was the only time you could get a V8 or Convertible option in a first generation Falcon and these cars were produced in very limited numbers (Sprint 2-Door Hardtop (bucket seats) 10,479 produced and Sprint Convertible (bucket seats) 4,602 produced). These first generation Falcon Sprint cars were the basis for the 1964½ Mustangs released by Ford one year later. Many (if not most) of the interior, chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components were derived from those used on the 1963½ Ford Falcon Sprint and/or Fairlane models. In simplest terms, the 1963½ Falcon Sprint is nearly mechanically identical to the 1964½ Mustang while being aesthetically different.

1960 Falcon 2-door Sedan
1961 Falcon Brochure Cover
1962 Falcon 2-door Wagon
1963½ Falcon Sprint Hardtop

Second generation (1964–1965)[edit]

Second Generation
'64 Ford Falcon Convertible (Auto classique St. Lazare '10).jpg
Overview
Production 1964–1965
Assembly Claycomo, Missouri
Cuautitlán, Mexico
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupe
4-door sedan
3-door station wagon
5-door station wagon
2-door hardtop
2-door convertible
2-door coupe utility
2-door sedan delivery
Related Ford Econoline
Ford Falcon Ranchero
Mercury Comet
Ford Mustang
Powertrain
Engine 144 cu in (2.4 L) Thriftpower I6
170 cu in (2.8 L) Thriftpower I6
200 cu in (3.3 L) Thriftpower I6
260 cu in (4.3 L) Windsor V8
289 cu in (4.7 L) Windsor V8
302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8
Transmission 3-speed automatic
3-speed manual
4-speed manual
2-speed automatic (ford-o-matic)
Dimensions
Wheelbase 109.5 in (2,781 mm)[12]
Length 181.6 in (4,613 mm)
Width 71.6 in (1,819 mm)[12]

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. Front suspension was coil springs pivot-mounted on upper arms plus double-acting absorbers.[12] 6-cylinder cars had 4 lug hubs with 13" steel wheels. V-8 cars got 5 lug wheels. 1965 changes were minimal, including a simpler grille and revised side trim on deluxe models. Production ended on June 26 of 1965 for convertible Falcons. A padded instrument panel, seat belts, power steering, power brakes, a radio, a remote-control trunk release and a parking brake warning light were optional.[13]

From 1965, the three-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission was available. Front seat-belts were standard.[14]

1964 Ford Falcon Sprint Hardtop
1965 Ford Falcon Futura 4-Door Sedan

Third generation (1966–1970)[edit]

Third Generation
'68 Ford Falcon Sedan (Auto classique VAQ Mont St-Hilaire '11).JPG
Overview
Production 1966–1970
Assembly Claycomo, Missouri
Cuautitlán, Mexico
Talbotville Ontario Canada
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupe
4-door sedan
5-door station wagon
Related Ford Econoline
Ford Ranchero
Ford Fairlane
Mercury Comet
Ford Mustang
Powertrain
Engine 144 cu in (2.4 L) Thriftpower I6
170 cu in (2.8 L) Thriftpower I6
200 cu in (3.3 L) 120 hp (89 kW) Thriftpower I6[15]
260 cu in (4.3 L) Windsor V8
289 cu in (4.7 L) Windsor V8
302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8
Dimensions
Wheelbase 111 in (2,819 mm)[16]
Length 184.3 in (4,681 mm)[16]
Width 73.2 in (1,859 mm)[16]

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 heater-defroster became standard.[17] Brakes were 9" for 6-cylinder Falcon, and 10" for V8's.[18] 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.[19] 1968 was the first year for the square taillights.[20]

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; none of the 1970-model Falcons featured a locking steering column that would be standard on all other 1970 Ford products (except Mavericks built before September 1969).

1966 Ford Falcon Sports Coupe
1967 Ford Falcon Futura Sports Coupe
1969 Falcon Station Wagon.


1970 12 Falcon[edit]

1970 12 Falcon
Ford Falcon Coupe (Les chauds vendredis '10).jpg
1970½ Ford Falcon 2 Door Sedan
Overview
Production 1970
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door sedan
4-door sedan
5-door station wagon[21]
Related Ford Fairlane
Powertrain
Engine 250 cu in (4.1 L) I6
302 cu in (4.9 L) V8
351 cu in (5.8 L) V8
429 cu in (7.0 L) V8
Dimensions
Wheelbase 117 in (3,000 mm) (sedan)
114 in (2,900 mm) (wagon)
Length 206.2 in (5,240 mm) (sedans)
209 in (5,300 mm) (wagon)
Width 76.7 in (1,950 mm) (2-door sedan),
76.4 in (1,940 mm) (4-door sedan)
75.4 in (1,920 mm) (wagon)
Height 52.3 in (1,330 mm) (2-door sedan),
53.1 in (1,350 mm) (4-door sedan)
55.7 in (1,410 mm) (wagon)
Curb weight 3,242 lb (1,471 kg) (2-door sedan),
3,258 lb (1,478 kg) (4-door sedan)
3,635 lb (1,649 kg) (wagon)

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,[22] was marketed as the "Falcon '70 12" and was available as a two-door sedan, four-door sedan, and four-door wagon.[21] 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 '70 12 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.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ www.falconclub.com The Ford Falcon Story... - accessed 30 March 2010
  2. ^ Durbin, Dee-Ann; Krisher, Tom (2010-06-02). "Mercury falling: Ford eliminates mid-range brand". Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-06-03. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1960_Ford/1960_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  4. ^ "1960 Ford (U.S.) Falcon Base 2-Door Sedan (Tudor) performance data, specs & photo". Automobile-catalog.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  5. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1963_Ford/1963_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  6. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1960_Ford/1960_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  7. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1961_Ford/1961_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  8. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1965_Ford/1965_Ford_Falcon_Bruchure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  9. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1960_Ford/1960_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  10. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1962_Ford/1962_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  11. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1962_Ford/1962_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  12. ^ a b c "Directory Index: Ford/1964_Ford/1964_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2012-05-28. 
  13. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1964_Ford/1964_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2012-05-28. 
  14. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1965_Ford/1965_Ford_Falcon_Bruchure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2012-05-28. 
  15. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1967_Ford/1967_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  16. ^ a b c "Directory Index: Ford/1966_Ford/1966_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  17. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1966_Ford/1966_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2012-05-28. 
  18. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1966_Ford/1966_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2012-05-28. 
  19. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1967_Ford/1967_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  20. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1968_Ford/1968_Ford_Falcon_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  21. ^ a b 1970 12 Ford Falcon Brochure Retrieved on 18 September 2010
  22. ^ John Gunnell, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946–1975, Revised 4th Edition, page 433

External links[edit]