1966 Ford Falcon

After dabbling on the sporty side of things, the Ford Falcon in 1966 was a totally different car. All-new sheetmetal and severely pared-down model offerings would see the series through its final years as it retained its position as Ford's economy leader. Just three basic body styles -- a four-door sedan, two-door club coupe, and four-door station wagon -- were offered in two trim levels, base and Futura. Gone were convertibles, hardtops, and two-door wagons.

1966 Ford Falcon
A stubby side profile was evident in the Ford
Falcon's stripped-down redesign for 1966.

The wheelbase of coupes and sedans grew 1.4 inches to 110.9 inches, but overall length actually shrank slightly to 184.3 inches, giving the car a stubby side profile. The deeply sculpted side panels of previous Falcons were now smoothed out and almost devoid of any distinguishing features, save for a subtle upper-body crease that faded out at a point above the rear-wheel opening. A slight kick-up in the rear quarters was a departure from prior straight-edged Falcons, too.

From the front, styling didn't look much different from 1965, with a horizontal-bar grille divided in the center by a narrow, vertical badge. The rear design featured an update of the outboard round taillight lenses and recessed rear fascia of the 1964-65 Falcons, though the decklid was reshaped to provide a lower sill for easier trunk loading.

All 1966 Falcon owners were greeted with a very straightforward dashboard and instrument cluster. The speedometer sat in a pod to the left side of the steering wheel, while a matching unit on the right contained the fuel and temperature gauges, with warning lights for oil pressure and electrical-system function placed in between. Described as a "swept-away" design, padded panels were standard and optional factory-installed air conditioning was now routed through cutouts in the metal panel.

Base Falcon dress was fairly austere. The only external brightwork was on the drip rail over the side windows. Coupe and sedan interiors included nylon-and-vinyl upholstery in a choice of three colors. Vinyl-coated rubber mats covered the floors and only front doors were fitted with armrests. The Futura was outfitted with extra bright trim on the window frames, wheel arches, rocker panels, and top edge of the rear quarters.

Five interior-color selections were available (including optional all-vinyl upholstery). A horn ring, rear armrests, and color-keyed carpeting were other Futura touches. If any "big" news came from the Falcon camp in 1966, it had to be the Futura Sports Coupe.

A throwback to the original Futura of 1961, this two-door-only model was fitted with vinyl bucket seats in a choice of six colors, slotted wheel covers, and special badging on the roof sail panel. Sports Coupes were often shown with a vinyl roof covering, but this was a $74 option for any coupe.

Falcon wagons were totally new this year also, sitting on a 113-inch wheelbase. That made them longer in that depart­ment than all other compact wagons (and there were still plenty of them) except for the 113-inch Stude­baker Wagon­aire.

The main reason for the extended length was that the basic bodyshell was now shared with the Fairlane wagons, which had the same wheelbase. (In fact, at 198.7 inches overall, a 1966 Fal­con wagon was just 1.1 inches shorter than a Fairlane.) Available in base and Futura trim levels, Falcon wagon production still remained fairly strong.

Shared body tooling with the Fairlane made this the most profitable segment of the Falcon line. It also meant that the Falcon wagons could be ordered with the Magic Doorgate, a new $45 option that allowed the tailgate to be opened in either the conventional manner or from the side like a door. A power tailgate window and roof rack were other station wagon options. Upholstery was done all in vinyl in both series, but color choices mirrored those offered in base and Futura coupes and sedans.

While the two-door wagon on which the Ranchero pickup had been based was gone, this utility model was still being built on the station wagon chassis in both base and Deluxe editions. The top-line models could even be ordered with Sports Coupe-inspired bucket seats in a selection of four color choices. As a result, Ranchero production remained strong this season. Gone from the commercial lineup was the sedan delivery, a model that had known only very modest production. Most businesses that needed small vans were opting for the more-trucklike Econoline.

Standard underhood on all models except the Sports Coupe and station wagons was the 170-cubic-inch six, newly perked up to 105 horsepower. Standard on the Sports Coupe and wagons (and available for the others) was the 200-cubic-inch Fairlane six with 120 horsepower. Optional on all models was the 200-horse 289-cubic-inch small-block V-8 with two-barrel intake and a 9.3:1 compression ratio.

A three-speed manual transmission was standard with all engines. Options included Cruise-O-Matic automatic drive and a floor-mounted four-speed stick that could only be ordered with the "Challenger" V-8.

Starting prices for the new Falcon in 1966 took a bit of a jump -- by about $40 for coupes and sedans, even more for wagons. Production dropped by about 29,000 units, with 182,669 passenger Falcons and another 21,760 Rancheros.

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