1960-1965 Ford Falcon


October 3, 1959, was a momentous day for the Ford Motor Company. An all-new, really new automobile was about to be unveiled. It was the type of car that late company founder Henry Ford might have been very proud of, for it brought to market many of the concepts he had envisioned with his Model T a half-century earlier. The car was of a relatively new class on the American scene known as the compact. It was named the Ford Falcon.

Classic Cars Image Gallery

1965 Ford Falcon convertible
It started out modest, but by 1965 the Ford Falcon
line had grown to include a sporty Futura convertible. See more classic car pictures.


The Ford Falcon's origin came in autumn 1959, when it was one of three new compacts to be introduced by the U.S. "Big Three" automakers. After several marketing blunders in the Fifties, most notably the Edsel, those who worked in the "Glass House" at Ford's World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, were keeping their fingers crossed. By the end of the model year, Falcon was the winner of the sales race in the new category by a large margin.

By the mid Fifties, European imports proved to be a growing segment of the American new-car market. At the head of the pack was Germany's Volkswagen. Developed before World War II to be the German "people's car," its basic design had proven popular and dependable. The VW's success lured other European imports to America's shores, though in very limited numbers. Individually, these cars caused little concern for the U.S. automakers, but collectively they were recognized as a sales threat to be reckoned with.

In addition to the Europeans, compact entries from America's "Little Two" were also gaining momentum in the sales race. American Motors' Rambler had been reborn in 1956 and was finding a strong customer base with unitized construction, ample power, and dependability. The case of the American small car was further advanced in 1959 via the new Studebaker Lark, which in its initial year helped put its manufacturer in the black after years of being awash in red ink.

Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors were not going to sit idly by as the profits from others' little cars continued to grow. GM put Chevrolet at the head of its compact-car marketing plans with the Corvair, which was as close to being an American VW as it could be with its rear-mounted, air-cooled engine, rear swing-axle suspension, and limited body styles. It was an impressive bit of engineering, but its unconventional features (to American buyers) left some members of the public leery about these unique vehicles.

Over at Chrysler, the new Valiant -- eventually to be marketed as a Plymouth -- was being prepared. Its strength was said to be its European-influenced styling with sweeping side-contour lines, an impressive trapezoidal grille opening, canted taillights, and rooflines that predicted future Chrysler products. Under-hood sat a new and very well-engineered inline six-cylinder engine mounted at a 30-degree angle; it produced 101 horsepower in standard form, which would make it the most powerful of the new Big Three compacts.

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Ford Falcon Development

Despite its wild success, the Ford Falcon went through development during a tenuous time for Ford. In the fall of 1957, Ford Motor Company was embroiled in its biggest failure ever, the Edsel. Several years earlier, when it was proposed to create a new marque, medium-priced cars were the fastest-growing market segment and an area where Ford felt it was vulnerable to the competition. However, by the time the Edsel started reaching showrooms, the combination of economic recession and poor initial production quality quickly left an irreparable scar on the new make's reputation.

At the time of the Edsel's release, Robert S. McNamara was vice president of Ford's North American vehicle operations. From the start, he was strongly opposed to the Edsel, believing it would steal customers and resources from the Ford Division, which he had seen become the most profitable arm in the growing company.

Using his pragmatic, no-nonsense reputation, he claimed to always be looking to the "bottom line" as his guide for success. As much as McNamara was against the Edsel, he was the biggest proponent of a truly new Ford compact when the idea was first put on the table.

This was not the first time Ford had looked into making a compact car. Attempts in the late Forties and early Fifties had been shelved when it was found to be financially unfeasible to produce such a vehicle. The push for the Falcon was done only after the European compacts started to show solid growth, which was about the same time that the Rambler American, a slightly updated revival of the two-door 1950-1955 Nash Rambler, was put on the market and helped spur Rambler to sales gains in recessionary 1958 while almost every other brand was slumping.

Many of the European cars relied on four-cylinder engines, while the little 100-inch-wheelbase Rambler used an inline six. Most European cars were suited for four passengers, while the American was able to seat six. When Ford product planners sat down to consider building a compact, engine size and passenger capacity were the first two concerns to be addressed.

This new small car was targeted to have a price tag well under the $2,000 mark, or about 20 percent less than a full-size Ford sedan. Planning and marketing worked long and hard to come up with a basic package, depending on public input. Thousands of hours were dedicated to conducting and studying opinion polls, in addition to long months of research and planning.

Even the model lineup was jockeyed back and forth. At one point, a full complement of models including hardtops, sedans, convertibles, and station wagons was suggested. At another stage, the new car was to be offered only as a two-door sedan before more consideration led to the decision to offer both two- and four-door sedans. In time, two- and four-door station wagons were deemed necessary; then, finally, a compact pickup.

Coming up with a new name for the car was another major project. During development, the code name Thunderbird XK was used. (This gave rise to rumors that a two-seat T-Bird was about to be reborn.) The previous time Ford introduced a new make, more than 10,000 names were assembled before it was decided to call it the Edsel (a name not even on the list). For the new compact, the Falcon was on the list, and was eventually unanimously approved by those at the top.

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1960 Ford Falcon

Mounted on a wheelbase of 109.5 inches, total length of 1960 Ford Falcon sedans was just 181.2 inches, while the wagons stretched out to 189. The compact Falcon was just 70.3 inches wide -- nearly a foot narrower than a standard-size Ford -- and stood 54.5 inches high. Curb weight was kept as low as possible, topping out at 2,422 pounds, just 22 pounds over the package target.

1960 Ford Falcon four-door sedan
At $1,974 to start, the Falcon four-door sedan
was only slightly less popular than the two-door.


Falcon's body and chassis employed "Single-Unit" construction, and had been engineered to provide maximum strength with minimal weight. Surprisingly, the new compact car was solid and relatively quiet.

Although the frame was considered part of the body, its design was sturdy and rugged. Using two box-section outer rails held together with five complete cross members and two partial rails, a solid base for the body was established. The rocker panels and all of the main structural underbody members, such as the floor side members and front side-member extensions, were galvanized and zinc-coated prior to being assembled to inhibit rust. Underbody sheetmetal was developed so it would not be as likely to collect dirt and water. Falcon's body panels were designed to fit with close tolerances, which helped keep out wind, weather, and noise.

A totally new engine was a part of the Falcon project. An overhead-valve inline six, it used a bore of 3.5 inches with a 2.5-inch stroke for a total displacement of 144 cubic inches. With a compression ratio of 8.7:1, this little six was rated for 90 horsepower at 4,200 rpm, and delivered peak torque of 138 pound-feet at 2,000 rpm. Equipped with a single-barrel Holley carburetor, gas mileage was touted to be in the range of a little under 30 miles per gallon for city driving and a little over 30 for highway cruising.

The new "Falcon Six" was the first Ford Motor Company product to use the "thin-wall" casting method. It employed a specially designed integral cylinder head and intake manifold -- which made for easier servicing -- and provided a series of tight-seal induction passages. For better fuel distribution, the intake manifold used a six-port design, which was a breakthrough for its time. Fully equipped, the little six tipped the scales at just under 350 pounds, making it about 150 pounds lighter than the full-size Ford "Mileage-Maker Six."

There was a choice of two transmissions. Included in the base price was a sturdy three-speed manual with second-and third-gear synchronizers. Optional was the Falcon Fordomatic, a two-speed unit that was air-cooled to reduce weight. Both were available with a 3.10:1 rear axle that provided plenty of power and economy in either case.

The Falcon's steering and suspension were very different from the full-size Ford models. A major difference up front was the mounting of the shock absorber. The rubber-insulated top mounting point was placed in the shock tower, an integral part of the unibody structure, while the lower mount was attached to the upper A-arm. A four-inch coil spring surrounded the shock absorber, and was inclined seven degrees to help reduce brake dive. A flanged lower control arm and stabilizing strut combined to give the car better support and less bounce on the road. The upper ball joints were spring loaded to compensate for wear, while the lower ball joints had thrust bearings, which combined with the recirculating-ball steering for smoother and easier maneuvering of the car.

A proven design was adopted for the rear suspension. Five-leaf semielliptic springs located in an asymmetrical pattern and hydraulic shock absorbers gave the Falcon a relatively smooth ride. Tires were four-ply nylon 6.00 x 13s.

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1960 Ford Falcon Exterior

While the internal envelope was where most of the developmental funds were aimed, the 1960 Ford Falcon exterior was what would ultimately attract the buying public. Charged with the task of making the new compact appeal to a style-conscious public was Eugene Bordinat, Jr.

Though relatively new at Ford, his background in Detroit started with General Motors, where he had been employed since 1938. One of his first projects at Ford was the new compact. Basically, Bordinat's job was to keep the car simple and under budget -- two of Ford exec Robert McNamara's favorite themes.

Several design ideas were explored, seeing the creation of such vehicles as the L'Avion and Astrion concept cars. A two-seat Thunderbird-like vehicle was even created with photos "leaked" out to throw the competition off balance. In total, more than 20 proposals were presented for the Falcon project. Some of the ideas eventually made their way to other Ford products.

Many of the proposals strayed from the original theme of simple and basic. However, Bordinat was able to successfully translate McNamara's wishes, and came up with a very attractive presentation. The frontal view featured two single headlamps mounted inside a wide, soft-edged surround filled in with a stamped aluminum grille produced for Ford by Alcoa.

Quad-headlight arrangements had been suggested for the Falcon, but preliminary presentations gave the car an uneven look. Not only did the use of the two-light front end lend to a cleaner appearance, it was also a cost-cutting move. Another feature that saved money (and weight) was a hood support rod attached to the radiator support instead of spring-equipped hinges.

Falcon's rear view featured a pair of large round taillights in keeping with what had become a recognized Ford design theme. (Ironically, 1960 full-size Fords departed from the round taillight theme, which may have contributed to sales being off that year.) Falcon's side view was simple, featuring an indented cove that started on the front fender and ran the length of the car, trailing off to accentuate the shape of the taillight tunnels.

Doors and panels were relatively thin, and ornamentation was also kept to a minimum: stainless steel trim around the windshield and rear glass, chrome block letters spelling out "Ford" on the hood, and a series script on the front fenders behind the wheel well and again on the back panel.

Eight standard exterior colors were used, all of them shared with the big Fords. Optional two-tone choices were limited to contrasting roof/body patterns.

Inside, passengers enjoyed nearly the same amount of room as in the 1952-1954 Fords. Upholstery consisted of Moroccan-grain vinyl bolsters and stylish nylon cloth inserts. Interiors were equipped with standard front-door armrests and black "Sof-Tred" rubber carpeting.

A neatly styled dashboard housed all instruments in a cluster directly in front of the driver. The sweep-type speedometer was large and could be easily viewed through the steering wheel. It was flanked on the left by the fuel gauge and on the right by the temperature indicator. Oil pressure and generator charging status was indicated by red warning lights on either side of the odometer. The parking brake was operated by means of a T-handle to the left of the driver.

Falcon wagons were really quite advanced in their design. While full-size Ford wagons still used a two-piece tailgate, Falcon haulers featured a rear window that could be retracted into the tailgate. (For those who had a few extra dollars to spend, this could be power-operated.) Offering up to 76.2 cubic feet of space, the wagon had plenty of cargo room for most family loads. With a little bit of jockeying and the tailgate left down, a four-by-eight sheet of plywood could be loaded into the car.

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1960 Ford Falcon Options

The 1960 Ford Falcon offered a limited number of options. A transistorized radio was available, as was a fresh-air heater and defroster with two-speed motor. A Deluxe trim package provided bright trim around the side windows, a choice of three interior colors, and a white steering wheel with a full horn ring. Ford was still promoting safety in its products, with Falcon having an optional padded dash and sun visors. Seat belts were available, too.

1960 Ford Falcon Ranchero pickup
The two-door wagon body spawned the
Falcon Ranchero pickup.


Not available were such power conveniences as assisted brakes, steering, seats, or windows. (Even back-up lights were not offered in Falcon's first season.) Typical dealer-added accessories included floor mats, license plate frames, exterior mirrors, seat covers, and heavy-duty suspension components.

When the Falcon first went on sale, only sedans were released. Finishing touches were applied to the station wagons before they hit the market in mid December. The car-based Ranchero package was repositioned into the Falcon family, and was marketed by the truck division as a light-duty commercial vehicle. Prices ranged from $1,912 for the base two-door sedan, up to $2,287 for the four-door station wagon. The Ranchero started at $1,862.

Ford Planners envisioned annual production of around 650,000 units. Production kicked off at the recently completed Lorain, Ohio, plant and the revamped Kansas City, Missouri, facility. In early January 1960, the Milpitas, California, plant (often referred to as San Jose), started to mix Falcons with full-size cars; within a couple months, it would be exclusively Falcon. The factory at Metuchen, New Jersey, was another that switched from Galaxies and Fair-lanes to Falcons early in 1960.

While the first year didn't reach the projected 650,000 mark (nor would it ever), it did lay the groundwork for better things to come. A total of 435,676 Falcon passenger cars were produced along with another 21,027 Rancheros for the 1960 model year, making it the most successful launch of a new model ever by Ford. So popular was Ford's new compact that it outsold the competing Chevrolet Corvair and Chrysler Valiant combined.

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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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1961 Ford Falcon Futura

Along with the economy imports, the influence of sports cars was also beginning to have an effect on American car buyers. Prominent among their features, thought Iacocca, were front bucket seats. Chevrolet had already used this formula for the 1960 Corvair Monza, which garnered almost 12,000 orders despite making its debut at the very tail end of the model year. Thus was born the 1961 Ford Falcon Futura in the spring of that year.

1961 Ford Falcon Futura
The addition of the Futura model in 1961 helped
Falcon production approach half a million cars.


A variation on the two-door sedan, the new model's lavish touches were inspired by Ford's personal-luxury car, the Thunderbird. Futura offered its buyers such amenities as wall-to-wall carpeting, deluxe door-mounted armrests, and a center storage console between front bucket seats with a rear seat trimmed in full vinyl in a choice of five colors. Motor Trend found the Futura's flat-folding front passenger seat a welcome touch: "As on the Thunderbird, this back is designed to fold all the way down to the front cushion. It's a great help for those climbing in and...it makes the Futura the two-door compact with the easiest back-seat accessibility."

On the outside, Futura received all of the Deluxe package features (save the bodyside trim), plus three diecast chrome "bullets" on each rear quarter panel, "vented" full wheel covers, and optional narrow-band whitewalls. Despite its late arrival and a $248 price premium over a standard two-door, Futura still sold 44,470 units -- nearly 23 percent of all Falcon two-door sedans produced for 1961.

Joining Falcon's commercial fleet in 1961 was an all-new sedan delivery. Like the Ranchero, it was based on the two-door station wagon body, even to the extent that it had a station-wagon tailgate with a retracting rear window.

Falcon began one of the most successful automobile marketing campaigns ever with its tie to the characters from Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" comic strip. Just that name alone would signify thrift. One such spot had Charlie Brown asking piano prodigy Schroeder if he knew that the Futura was the baby cousin of Thunderbird. Sitting at his keyboard, the young maestro replied, "No, but if you whistle a few bars, I'll fake it."

Production demands dictated more facilities for the Falcon. The Atlanta, Georgia, assembly plant was added to those making the Ford compact. Production for the 1961 model year rose to 474,241 units, plus an additional 22,925 Rancheros and sedan deliveries.

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1962 Ford Falcon

The introduction of the 1962 Ford Falcon brought slight revisions in the sheetmetal, expanded model offerings, and even more options, thanks in part to Lee Iacocca's wish for a bigger share of the market. Engine choices remained unaltered, but dealer-installed Polar-Aire air conditioning was available for those cars equipped with the Special Six.

1962 Ford Falcon Futura
Ventlike front-fender decorations and midbody
side spears identified Futuras in 1962.


There was a new hood design with simulated hood scoop capped by a chromed "intake." Front fenders took on new contours to match the all-new "electric-shaver" grille featuring a vertical bar theme in stamped aluminum. Parking lights moved down into the bumper, and the fender-side logo was redesigned to underscore the series script. Falcons with Deluxe trim had more flash than before. In addition to the bright metal window surrounds and multiple color and material choices for the interior, ribbed anodized aluminum "washboard" trim was placed on the lower quarters behind the rear wheel openings, a la earlier Galaxies.

Technically there were five Falcon station wagons in 1962, two- and four-doors offered in base and Deluxe forms, plus the Falcon Squire. As on its big brother, the Country Squire, fiberglass edging decorated to simulate wood surrounded the side insert where dark mahogany-grained Di-Noc appliqué completed the effect on the sharpest-looking wagon in the compact field. While the all-vinyl "Western" seat coverings were the only choice for standard models, Deluxes and Squires both offered three all-vinyl selections and one of vinyl and woven plastic.

Futura returned as an independent model rather than an option package. Promoted as being "the happiest, most spirited 'going' among compacts," its most obvious change at introduction time was new side trim with dummy louvers in exchange for 1961's three "bullets." Then came the spring and, with it, a totally new roofline for the Futura. Featuring a squared-off, formal design (which could be covered in vinyl at extra cost), it continued to draw the Falcon closer to its Thunderbird heritage. The wheel cover design was also changed, and an optional four-speed floor-shift transmission -- built by Ford of England -- joined the Futura options list. Still, Futura orders tapered off to just barely 17,000.

Overall Falcon sales dropped to 396,129, plus another 22,410 commercial vehicles. A major reason was the release of a new midsize Fairlane series. Using construction techniques, design elements, and drivetrain components from the Falcon, the Fairlane appealed to car buyers looking for just a little more room than in a compact, while staying away from the big cars. There was new external competition, too. Chevrolet introduced a second compact, the Chevy II, a much more conventional car than the Corvair, intended to face the Falcon head on.

Then, too, Falcon prices shot up. The 1961 models topped the introductory cars by literally a couple dollars, but for 1962, the price of the base two-door sedan jumped to $1,985, while the four-door hit $2,047 -- both of which represented $71 increases.

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1963 Ford Falcon

The Ford Division embraced a new marketing direction in 1963, one that would affect all of its offerings. Even the Falcon, initially bred for simplicity and economy, would come to be part of a top-to-bottom emphasis on performance.

1963 Ford Falcon Futura Sports convertible
The Futura Sports convertible got wire wheelcovers, an
optional V-8, and
a buckets-and-console interior for 1963.


The 1963 Ford Falcon entered the model year, predictably enough, with a new grille design and some updated trim inside and out. The instrument cluster received a major makeover. The sweep speedometer remained with the fuel and temperature gauges on either side, but the new stylized plastic fascia had something of a Galaxie look to it.

More surprising, however, was a new body style, a convertible. Available as a Futura with a selection of five all-vinyl trims, this new model could be ordered with bench seats or in a "Sports" edition with bucket seats. Equipped with a power top and the 170-cubic-inch Challenger Six as standard, its $2,470 starting price was exceeded only by the Squire wagon in the Falcon family.

Fleet and economy buyers could still opt for base Falcons available in the original four body styles, the prices of which remained the same as in 1962. Basic Falcons were still offered in two trim levels, standard and Deluxe; however, the latter's interior selections were now limited to red or blue vinyl-and-cloth choices.

One reason the entry-level models were being downplayed was the expansion of the Futura, now considered a subseries with distinct model codes. Five cloth-and-vinyl upholstery colors were offered, keyed to the exterior paint. Unlike previous Futuras, not all models came with bucket seats. As on the convertible, two-door sedan buyers could choose one with a bench seat or buckets-and-console Sports version. The new Futura four-door sedan came only with the bench.

1963 Ford Falcon Deluxe two-door wagon
Just 4,269 Deluxe two-door wagons were made for 1963.


Station wagons still made up a good portion of the Falcon market. The star this year continued to be the Squire. Falcon's top-line wagon for 1963 was offered with full vinyl seating in a choice of bench or bucket seats with center console. The Sports Squire hit new price heights for a Falcon at $2,724. The four-speed manual transmission was a new wagon option.

The impulse to go upmarket even extended to the commercial models. Deluxe trim was an $86 option for the Ranchero and sedan delivery. (Just 113 examples of dressed-up sedan deliveries were recorded.)

Midseason model introduction time in early 1963 brought some true excitement to the Falcon line. A new hardtop coupe was offered as a stablemate to the Futura convertible. Naturally, there was a choice of bench seats or -- for a little more pizzazz -- a pair of bucket seats in the Sports edition.

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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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Ford Falcon Sprint

In 1964, Ford returned to Monaco with a new-model Ford Falcon Sprint powered by 305-horsepower versions of the 289-cubic-inch V-8. Eight teams were fielded. Among the Falcon drivers were Bosse Ljungfeldt, who also raced a Falcon in 1963, and 1962 Formula I World Champion Graham Hill. The Swedish daredevil Ljungfeldt again was at his best in the speed stages, and finished second overall and first in the over-2,500cc general class. Anne Hall and her American navigator, Denise McCluggage, bested the over-2,500cc GT group.

1964 Ford Falcon Sprint
The Sprint model was built for use in Ford's racing program.


There were a couple more outings for the Falcon in 1964. Ljungfeldt won class honors in the Midnite Sun Rally held in his homeland. But with the Mustang looming as Ford's sporty compact, the Falcon's competition days were numbered. Still, its two seasons spent tearing around mountain roads proved that an American car could perform up to or exceed European standards.

Then, too, a small-block V-8 came to the Falcon platform. Using thin-wall casting, this now proven and respected engine (it debuted in Fairlanes and similar Mercury Meteors) had been taken to 260 cubic inches and was rated at 164 horsepower. Known as the Challenger V-8, it was the same engine that Carroll Shelby was stuffing into the little AC Ace roadsters that he called Cobras, At $196.30, the 260 V-8 was the most bang for the buck among U.S. compacts.

To make it even more tempting, a special Sprint package was put on the table. Available as a hardtop and convertible, the starting point for these cars was the Futura Sports package to which was added the V-8. The two-barrel carburetor was topped by the air cleaner from the big Ford 390-cubic-inch "Police Interceptor" V-8; it provided ample air flow-and what Ford described as a "power hum." A chrome dress-up kit for the valve covers, air cleaner, radiator and oil filler caps, and oil dipstick reflected all that power. At the end was a "throaty" muffler.

A stiffer suspension, larger brakes, and five-lug wheels (which replaced four-lug units on any V-8-equipped Falcon) were installed. A three-speed stick transmission came standard, but could be replaced by Fordomatic or a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed gearbox encased in aluminum. Also included in the Sprint package were a dashboard-mounted tachometer; deep-dished, sports-style steering wheel (a little too deep-dished for some automotive writers' tastes); simulated knock-off wire wheel covers; and identifying scripts on the front fenders.

Though it wouldn't embarrass a Super/Stock terror of the day, the V-8 did wonders for Falcon acceleration. Car and Driver's test of a four-speed Sprint convertible at the Ford Proving Grounds yielded "0-to-60 in less than 11 seconds consistently, and quarter-mile times were right in the high seventeens and low eighteens." Several specially prepared Sprints were sent to Europe to contest the Monte Carlo Rally. When the results were in, Falcon had proven itself to be a world-leader, something the other compacts from America were never able to do.

Though model and equipment choices were expanding, Falcon production was not. Output was down to 328,339 passenger cars and 19,571 Rancheros and sedan deliveries.

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1964 Ford Falcon

After four years, the 1964 Ford Falcon received a major facelift, one that was smart and up-to-date inside and out. The new package dimensions were kept as close as possible to the original theme. Overall length expanded to 181.6 inches (190 on wagons) and Falcon grew a little wider to 71.6 inches. Weight increased, too, by about 65 pounds.

1964 Ford Falcon Futura convertible
Though it looked sporty as a Futura convertible, the
redesigned 1964 Falcon lost sales to the new Mustang.


Falcon's soft edges and rounded contours gave way to a boxier body, sharper definition of the dartlike side cove, and an angular rear deck treatment. Up front, the use of dual headlights continued, with a handsome stamped aluminum grille in which horizontal bar sections appeared to float. The rear design still featured large, round taillights. The word "Falcon" was spelled out across the deck-lid's face in chromed block letters.

The dashboard also had a completely new look. A flat-topped dash panel replaced the twin-hump style employed in 1960-1963. A wide strip-type speedometer was flanked by fuel and temperature gauges. Below the speedometer sat warning lights for oil pressure and generator function. Lever-type controls now operated the heater and ventilation system.

As much as the physical appearance of the Falcon had changed for 1964, model offerings stayed almost as they had been. The base Falcon still came in its same four sedan and station wagon styles. The step up was the Deluxe, this year considered a separate subseries. It no longer came as a two-door station wagon, however. Upholstery in base-model sedans was tan vinyl with woven nylon cloth inserts; Deluxes came in red or blue.

Futura returned with all its body styles from 1963. Four color-keyed interiors were offered to those wanting to ride in a bit more luxury for the sedans. Hardtop and convertible buyers could opt for the Sports edition with bucket seats and all-vinyl upholstery in five color-coordinated choices. Convertible tops were available in black, white, and light blue. Both Sprints came back, too, with virtually no change in formula.

1964 Ford Falcon Deluxe station wagon
The Deluxe station wagon, identifiable by its
full-length side spear, was offered only as a four-door.


The revisions paid added dividends to the station wagons, giving them up to 90 cubic feet of load space. The top-line Squire continued with its pseudo-wood trim, which conformed to the reshaped side cove. Commercial vehicles shared in the redesign, too. The sedan delivery continued in base and Deluxe trim, while the Ranchero could be had in base, Deluxe, or Deluxe Sport, the last with vinyl, color-keyed bucket seats-an option that saw just 235 orders.

Powering Falcons in 1964 was a mixed lot that had to keep those on the production lines on their toes. All models except the Futura convertible and Sprints received the 144-cubic-inch six (still rated at 85 horsepower). Standard on the ragtop and optional on all except Sprints was the Special Six with 170 cubic inches and 101 horses. (This was actually the recommended engine for all station wagons, even though it was considered an option.) New for 1964 was a 200-cubic-inch "Special Six" first used in Fairlanes, a 116-horsepower engine optionally available in Falcon station wagons and commercials.

Details of the Challenger V-8 (or Sprint V-8, as the engine was known when applied to the sportiest Falcons) were unchanged. So, too, were the transmission choices. Power brakes were new to the options list, though.

Despite the new looks and restrained prices, Falcon production took another hit in 1964, dropping to 300,770, with another 18,190 commercial vehicles.

Certainly contributing to these lower numbers was another new Ford product that was released in April 1964: Mustang. Ford's "pony-car" would rapidly stake out the sports-compact territory for itself and redefine the role of the Falcon, from which it was derived.

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1965 Ford Falcon

The 1965 Ford Falcon seemed to be returning to its original role as Ford's entry-level economy car. Cost-cutting was evident even in the top-line Sprint and Futuras with the Sport package, where the front center-storage console became a separate option from the bucket seats. Styling changes consisted of little more than a new grille design and side trim updates.

1965 Ford Falcon four-door sedan
The base four-door sedan, a $2,082 car, saw
increased orders in 1965.


Similarly minor modifications took place on the inside with new plastic fascia used around the instrument cluster and radio surround. On the technical side, alternators replaced generators to keep Falcons' 12-volt electrical systems charged.

Model offerings picked up where they left off in 1964. This would be the final season for the Sprint, though, as the Mustang had really cut into its market. However, those who did step up to one of these very limited-production vehicles (2,806 hardtops and 300 convertibles) got more standard punch than in any prior Falcon with a new 289-cubic-inch, 200-horsepower V-8.

1965 Ford Falcon Sprint convertible
A mere 3,106 Sprints were produced in 1965 -- just
300 of which were convertibles.


Actually, available power was up throughout the line. The 144-cubic-inch six was gone, replaced as the standard power-plant by the 170-cube job, which got a compression-ratio nudge to 9.1:1 and a boost in horsepower to 105. The optional 200-cubic-inch six, now offered in everything but the Sprint, crept up to 120 horsepower. Then, too, those same models could be had with the Challenger 289 V-8, a $153 option.

A three-speed manual gearbox was also included in the base price of all models. Improved transmission options included a Ford-built four-speed stick for V-8 cars and the new C-4 Cruise-O-Matic three-speed automatic, available across the board. With two drive positions and added smoothness, the automatic was the most popular transmission in 1965 Falcons.

Overall, production dropped substantially for 1965 to 213,601, though Ranchero and sedan delivery orders moved up a bit to 20,040 units. At last, the original Falcon had run its course. A totally re-engineered Falcon would arrive for 1966, but in many ways it would mark a return to the little car's original mission. A new day was dawning for Ford's compact.

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1960-1965 Ford Falcon Specifications

The Falcon was a bit of a gamble for Ford, and while the compact car never paid off in the numbers Ford was hoping for, it was a success by any other measure throughout its first generation. Here are 1960-1965 Ford Falcon specifications, covering all six years of that vital first generation.

1965 Ford Falcon Futura hardtop
This 1965 Futura two-door hardtop is equipped
with the 289-cubic-inch V-8 that replaced the 260.


1960 Ford Falcon (109.5-inch wheelbase)

Weight (lbs.)
Price (new)
Number built
4-door sedan 2,288
$1,974
167,896
2-door station wagon
2,540
$2,225
27,552
2-door sedan
2,259
$1,912
193,470
4-door station wagon
2,575
$2,287
46,758
Total Falcon


435,676
Commercial
Ranchero pickup
2,345
$1,862
21,027
Total 1960


456,703

1961 Ford Falcon (109.5-inch wheelbase)

Weight (lbs.)
Price (new)
Number built
4-door sedan
2,289
1,976
159,761
2-door station wagon
2,525
2,227
32,045
Futura 2-door sedan
2,322
2,162
44,470
2-door sedan
2,254
1,914
150,032
4-door station wagon
2,558
2,270
87,933
Total Falcon


474,241
Commercial
Ranchero pickup
2,338
1,864
20,937
Sedan delivery
2,463
2,109
1,988
Total commercial


22,925
Total 1961


497,166

1962 Falcon (109.5-inch wheelbase)

Weight (lbs.)
Price (new)
Number built
4-door sedan
2,279
$2,047

Deluxe 4-door sedan
2,285
$2,133
126,041
2-door station wagon
2,539
$2,298

Deluxe 2-door station wagon
2,545
$2,384
20,025
Futura 2-door sedan
2,343
$2,273
17,011
2-door sedan
2,243
$1,985

Deluxe 2-door sedan
2,249
$2,071
143,650
4-door station wagon
2,575
$2,341

Deluxe 4-door station wagon
2,581
$2,427
66,819
Squire 4-door station wagon
2,591
$2,603
22,583
Total Falcon


396,129
Commercial
Ranchero pickup
--
$1,889
20,842
Sedan delivery
--
$2,111
1,568
Total commercial


22,410
Total 1962


418,539

1963 Ford Falcon (109.5-inch wheelbase)


Weight (lbs.)
Price (new)
Number built
4-door sedan
2,337
$2,047
62,365
2-door sedan
2,300
$1,985
70,630
Total Falcon


132,995
Futura
4-door sedan
2,345
$2,161
31,736
2-door sedan
2,343
$2,116
16,674
Sports 2-door sedan
--
$2,237
10,344
Hardtop coupe
2,438
$2,198
17,524
Sports hardtop coupe
--
$2,319
10,972
Convertible coupe
2,645
$2,470
18,942
Sports convertible coupe
--
$2,591
12,250
Sprint hardtop coupe
--
$2,603
10,479
Sprint convertible coupe
--
$2,837
4,602
Total Futura


133,523
Station wagon
2-door
2,580
$2,298
7,322
4-door
2,617
$2,341
18,484
Deluxe 2-door
2,586
$2,384
4,269
Deluxe 4-door
2,623
$2,427
23,477
Squire 4-door
2,639
$2,603
6,808
Sports Squire 4-door
--
$2,724
1,461
Total station wagon


61,821
Commercial
Ranchero pickup
--
$1,898
12,218
Deluxe Ranchero pickup
--
$1,984
6,315
Sedan delivery
--
$2,111
925
Deluxe sedan delivery
--
$2,197
113
Total commercial


19,571
Total 1963


347,910

1964 Ford Falcon (109.5-inch wheelbase)

Weight (lbs.)
Price (new)
Number built
4-door sedan
2,400
$2,058
27,722
Deluxe 4-door sedan
2,420
$2,101
26,532
2-door sedan
2,365
$1,996
36,441
Deluxe 2-door sedan
2,380
$2,039
28,411
Total Falcon


119,106
Futura
4-door sedan
2,410
$2,176
38,032
2-door sedan
2,350
$2,127
16,621
Sports 2-door sedan
2,375
$2,243
212
Hardtop coupe
2,515
$2,209
32,608
Sports hardtop coupe
2,545
$2,325
8,607
Convertible coupe
2,710
$2,481
13,220
Sports convertible coupe
2,735
$2,597
2,980
Sprint hardtop coupe
2,813
$2,436
13,831
Sprint convertible coupe
3,008
$2,671
4,278
Total Futura


130,389
Station wagon
2-door
2,660
$2,326
6,034
4-door
2,695
$2,360
17,779
Deluxe 4-door
2,715
$2,446
20,697
Squire 4-door
2,720
$2,622
6,766
Total station wagon


51,276
Commercial
Ranchero pickup
2,478
$2,047
9,916
Deluxe Ranchero pickup
--
--
7,400
Sedan delivery
2,858
$2,260
776
Deluxe sedan delivery
--
--
98
Total commercial


18,190
Total 1964


318,961

1965 Ford Falcon (109.5-inch wheelbase)
­

Weight (lbs.)
Price (new)
Number built
4-door sedan
2,406
$2,058
27,722
Deluxe 4-door sedan
2,426
$2,101
26,532
2-door sedan
2,366
$1,996
36,441
Deluxe 2-door sedan
2,381
$2,039
28,411
Total Falcon


119,106
Futura
4-door sedan
2,413
$2,192
33,985
2-door sedan
2,373
$2,144
11,670
Hardtop coupe
2,491
$2,179
24,451
Sports hardtop coupe
--
$2,226
1,303
Convertible coupe
2,673
$2,428
6,191
Sports convertible coupe
--
$2,481
124
Sprint hardtop coupe
2,749
$2,437
2,806
Sprint convertible coupe
2,971
$2,671
300
Total Futura


80,830
Station wagon
2-door
2,611
$2,333
4,891
4-door
2,651
$2,367
14,911
Futura 4-door
2,667
$2,506
12,548
Squire 4-door
2,669
$2,665
6,703
Total station wagon


39,053
Commercial
Ranchero pickup
--
$2,095
10,555
Deluxe Ranchero pickup
--
--
8,724
Sedan delivery
--
$2,309
649
Deluxe sedan delivery
--
--
112
Total commercial


20,040
Total 1965


233,641

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