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.
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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