Ford Falcon Racing

Although the Falcon's initial purpose was to win the sales race of American compacts, by late 1962 a new goal had been added: win the Monte Carlo Rally. Ford was back in racing, all kinds of racing, but none of it seemed suited to the Ford Falcon, which was about to get a sporty Sprint model with V-8 power as part of the company's embrace of performance. Still, small European cars withstood the rigors of rallying around the globe; perhaps the Ford Falcon could go racing, too.

Midyear introductions in 1963 saw Falcon's two-door hardtop, a semifastback design, and the small-block 260-cubic-inch V-8. For the street, this engine delivered an advertised 164 horsepower. To give the new hardtop a little more punch for rallying, Ford turned to the trusted names of Holman and Moody to perform magic. Their final product was able to produce one horsepower per cubic inch, a perfect 260. The noted racecar preparers also beefed up the chassis and added front disc brakes.

In Europe, Ford had to round up several experienced driver/navigator teams not already under contract for other concerns. Fortunately, a Swede by the name of Bosse Ljungfeldt had become quite proficient with rallies in cold weather, and was already in the Ford camp to race British-built Cortinas in certain events. Selected as the navigator was Gunnar Haggbom, also an experienced Swedish rally veteran.

For the second team, British rally pilot Peter Jopp was teamed with Trant Jarman, a sales manager with Car and Driver magazine. The third crew, Briton Anne Hall and navigator Margaret McKensie from Scotland, rounded out the Falcon roster.

Money seemed to be no object in Ford's effort to win Monte Carlo. Several support vehicles, Falcon station wagons, were equipped with plenty of spares. Ford put together a press junket to let American journalists drive the new Sprint in and around Monte Carlo. Company officials flew in when the competition vehicles were about ready to do some prerally testing. As a gesture of goodwill, Benson Ford presented a new Falcon Squire station wagon to the Monaco Red Cross; Princess Grace, the American-born wife of the ruler of the tiny Mediterranean principality, accepted on behalf of the relief organization.

Unlike a race conducted on a closed course, this competition was done in several segments. Teams could choose one of several international starting points from which to begin their trek toward Monaco. In Chambery, France, the second leg of the rally started, a series of special high-speed stages on the way to Monte Carlo. Conducted in January, rain, mud, snow, and ice would accompany the participants through the mountains.

The highlight of the Ford effort came during the timed stages. Ljungfeldt won all six of the special events. Penalties accrued in the earlier legs kept the skilled, audacious Ljungfeldt to 43rd place overall. Jopp/Jarman came in 35th, but they were first in the over-3,000cc displacement class, which gave ad writers even more to brag about. (The Hall/McKensie team struggled in the difficult early distance stages and was disqualified.)

Before the year was out, Falcons would post class victories at the Shell 4000 in Canada and the Alpine Rally, as well as outright first-places at the Tulip Rally in Holland (redemption for Hall and McKensie) and Geneva Rally in Switzerland.

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