The 1963-1965 Ford Falcon Futura Sprint models represented an evolution in Ford's design approach over a brief period of years, and few would have thought of the first Falcons, debuting for the 1960 model year, as cars that excite.
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Their mission was practical transportation, and some even proclaimed them as modern successors to the everlasting Model A Ford. Others took a dimmer view, branding Falcons as prime examples of the short-lived, disposable automobile.
Appearance of the Futura two-door by 1962, with bucket seats no less, sparked just a twinge of interest among the sporty set. But only a twinge. After all, Falcons were powered by a minimalist 144-cid six: easy to service, reliable enough, but anemic when hitting the pedal, especially when equipped with two-speed Fordomatic.
Upgrading to the bigger 170-cid six with its 101 horsepower didn't deliver a vast improvement. Falcons rode pleasantly and were surprisingly roomy inside -- but rarely delivered thrills.
Then came 1963, and two big changes: arrival of a pretty little Falcon Futura convertible, accompanied by installation of a V-8 engine in the Sprint series added at midyear. A Sprint hardtop coupe also became available, which wore the rounded Falcon body quite well, with its restyled horizontal-bar grille.
First of the V-8s was a "Challenger" small-block of 260-cid displacement, cranking out 164 horsepower. Not until late in 1964 did a bigger 289 arrive, jacking output up to 200 bhp. Stuffing in a V-8 gave Falcons a much-needed performance boost, but without losing much of the fuel economy for which they'd become famous.
Sprints had special trim, including a simulated hood scoop, bucket seats alongside a console and full instrumentation -- including a 6,000-rpm tachometer mounted atop the dashboard.Leather-like vinyl trim came in five color choices, while simulated wire wheel covers and a sports-type steering wheel rounded out the package. A floor-shifted four-speed proved more pleasing than Falcon's customary column-shift three-speed.
Car and Driver ran an early V-8 Sprint through its paces, ambling off to 60 in a comparatively leisurely 12.1 seconds. A quarter-mile dash (figuratively speaking) took 18 seconds, with the Sprint edging up to 73 mph. Motor Trend was quicker, making the 60-mph trip in 10.9 seconds.
In muscle-car terms, there was nothing to get excited about here; but for a Falcon, this was mighty quick travelin'.
Continue reading to learn more about the eventual success of the 1963-1965 Ford Falcon Futura Sprint.