Ford Falcon Sprint
In 1964, Ford returned to Monaco with a new-model Ford Falcon Sprint powered by 305-horsepower versions of the 289-cubic-inch V-8. Eight teams were fielded. Among the Falcon drivers were Bosse Ljungfeldt, who also raced a Falcon in 1963, and 1962 Formula I World Champion Graham Hill. The Swedish daredevil Ljungfeldt again was at his best in the speed stages, and finished second overall and first in the over-2,500cc general class. Anne Hall and her American navigator, Denise McCluggage, bested the over-2,500cc GT group.
The Sprint model was built for use in Ford's racing program.
There were a couple more outings for the Falcon in 1964. Ljungfeldt won class honors in the Midnite Sun Rally held in his homeland. But with the Mustang looming as Ford's sporty compact, the Falcon's competition days were numbered. Still, its two seasons spent tearing around mountain roads proved that an American car could perform up to or exceed European standards.
Then, too, a small-block V-8 came to the Falcon platform. Using thin-wall casting, this now proven and respected engine (it debuted in Fairlanes and similar Mercury Meteors) had been taken to 260 cubic inches and was rated at 164 horsepower. Known as the Challenger V-8, it was the same engine that Carroll Shelby was stuffing into the little AC Ace roadsters that he called Cobras, At $196.30, the 260 V-8 was the most bang for the buck among U.S. compacts.
To make it even more tempting, a special Sprint package was put on the table. Available as a hardtop and convertible, the starting point for these cars was the Futura Sports package to which was added the V-8. The two-barrel carburetor was topped by the air cleaner from the big Ford 390-cubic-inch "Police Interceptor" V-8; it provided ample air flow-and what Ford described as a "power hum." A chrome dress-up kit for the valve covers, air cleaner, radiator and oil filler caps, and oil dipstick reflected all that power. At the end was a "throaty" muffler.
A stiffer suspension, larger brakes, and five-lug wheels (which replaced four-lug units on any V-8-equipped Falcon) were installed. A three-speed stick transmission came standard, but could be replaced by Fordomatic or a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed gearbox encased in aluminum. Also included in the Sprint package were a dashboard-mounted tachometer; deep-dished, sports-style steering wheel (a little too deep-dished for some automotive writers' tastes); simulated knock-off wire wheel covers; and identifying scripts on the front fenders.
Though it wouldn't embarrass a Super/Stock terror of the day, the V-8 did wonders for Falcon acceleration. Car and Driver's test of a four-speed Sprint convertible at the Ford Proving Grounds yielded "0-to-60 in less than 11 seconds consistently, and quarter-mile times were right in the high seventeens and low eighteens." Several specially prepared Sprints were sent to Europe to contest the Monte Carlo Rally. When the results were in, Falcon had proven itself to be a world-leader, something the other compacts from America were never able to do.
Though model and equipment choices were expanding, Falcon production was not. Output was down to 328,339 passenger cars and 19,571 Rancheros and sedan deliveries.
For more information on different types of cars, see: