Noticeable changes were wrought on the suspension system of the 1964 Ford Falcon. Rear spring hangers were strengthened and repositioned; the front upper wishbones, which supported the recalibrated coil spring and damper units, were strengthened, as were their mounting points; and wider 4.5x13 rims were fitted with 6.50x13 four-ply tires. Another much-needed change was the switch from the dreadful vacuum wipers that stopped when you accelerated (exactly when you needed them most) to the vastly superior two-speed electric type.
The really big Falcon news for 1964, however, was the release of a two-door hardtop coupe. Similar to the style released during the 1963 model year on the U.S. Falcon Futura and Sprint, it featured a very low roofline with a markedly raked rear window and huge doors. The roof pressing was imported from Canada, while the unique doors, extended quarter panels, and inner reinforcements (to compensate for the loss of the B-pillar) were stamped in Geelong.
The hardtop was a first for an Australian manufacturer and demonstrated Ford's desire to offer buyers the widest range of model options. Sales of the hardtop, available in Deluxe and Futura trims, were initially brisk due to its stylishness and it soon had a 10-percent share of total Falcon sales. Prices ran from £1,237 (about $2,750) for a Deluxe with a 170-cid engine and three-speed column-shift manual to £1,477 ($3,300) for a Futura with a Super Pursuit engine, Fordomatic gearbox, and radio.
Nonetheless, Ford's market share continued to decline. At the end of 1964, it was down to 15 percent despite having better cars and more options. Australian buyers, it seemed, had long memories. If it was any consolation, Holden's share dropped by three percent as both companies felt the effects of two newcomers. Chrysler's Valiant, powered by the big 225-cid "Slant Six" that effectively ignited a power war between the three manufacturers, accounted for four percent of the market by 1964, up from just one percent in 1961.
And the Asian giant, Toyota, had begun to make its presence felt in 1963 and 1964 as its inexorable climb up the ladder began. It was not yet a direct competitor with either Holden or Ford, its main product line then being the ugly and gutless Tiara sedan that was followed by the shovel-nosed Corona.
Learn about the last -- and best -- entry in the Ford Falcon series on the next page.
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