1961 Ford Falcon

With a feather in its cap, Ford gave the 1961 Ford Falcon just a minor facelift. A new aluminum grille -- convex, in place of the first-year car's concave unit -- was used, while out back Falcon was spelled out in chrome block letters across the rear panel. The Deluxe package now included bright trim to outline the side cove and a stylized Falcon emblem in gold anodized aluminum was placed by the series script on the front fender.

1961 Ford Falcon Futura
The most visible change to the 1961 Falcon
was a shift to a convex grille, as seen on this Futura.


The biggest news in 1961 was the addition of a larger version of the Falcon six. Marketed as the "Special Six," the original engine was redesigned, with the stroke lengthened to 2.94 inches for a displacement of 170 cubic inches and a rating of 101 horsepower. (Interestingly, the original 144-cubic-inch engine was now downrated to 85 horsepower, though there were no differences in any of the published specifications.)

Performance gains were dramatic. It took Motor Trend testers 21 seconds to get a 1960 Falcon with the three-speed stick to 60 mph from a standing start; the new engine did the job in 14.3 seconds (15.2 with automatic transmission).

Exterior color choices expanded to 12 solids and 14 extra-cost two-tone combinations. For base sedans, gray vinyl with nylon cloth was standard, while a durable brown vinyl with "Western"-pattern (often referred to as "Steerhead") inserts were used in the station wagons. However, all-vinyl color-keyed trims for the wagons and the vinyl-cloth trims in the sedans were popular options.

The base Falcon was still what Ford vice president Robert McNamara had envisioned: economical transportation for the masses and a reasonable profit for the company. However, his duties were escalating at Ford where, in late 1960, he was promoted to company president. (A few months later he left the company to serve as Secretary of Defense in the newly inaugurated Kennedy Administration.)

In the wake of McNamara's promotion, a sales and marketing man known for flamboyant demonstrations and aggressive marketing skills stepped in as vice president and general manager of the Ford Division. Among his first moves was an upgrading of the Falcon. His name was Lee Iacocca.

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