The numerous problems with the Ford Falcon eventually took their toll on the cars sales. Though, last minutes attempts were made to mitigate these issues, it was too little too late.
Heavier and far more robust Fairlane suspension components were substituted and the gearbox was strengthened on the Flacon, but too much time had passed, which took the gloss off the marketing campaign and created buyer suspicion that was to remain with the Ford Falcon for many years. Sales fell as a result of the well-publicized reliability problems.
To compound Ford's woes, the national government delivered its coup de grace in the form of a credit squeeze by raising the sales tax from 30 percent to 40 percent. In 1961, industry sales plummeted by more than 40 percent from 1960 levels. (The devastation in the marketplace induced the government to reduce its tax grab to 22.5 percent in 1962.)
The Falcon pushed Ford's share of the Australian new-car market from 10 percent to 19.4 percent -- before the car's failures and the sales tax hike hit. (With Ford nudging a 20-percent share, Holden had lost six percent, but still owned more than 40 percent of the market.) Still, in the first two years, approximately 54,000 units were sold, way below Ford's prediction of 70,000.
Australia, like America in the Sixties, was a big market for station wagons. Several U.S. Falcon wagons were brought to Australia late in the program for testing. To provide more luggage space, the U.S. designers lengthened the wagon version by nearly eight inches over the sedan, all of the extra length being aft of the rear wheels.
In Australia, though, the extra overhang caused the back to scrape on the ground when traversing gutters and driveways. So the Australian Falcon station wagon was made the same length as the sedan, the local engineers reasoning correctly that the small sacrifice in luggage room far outweighed any potential criticism for "dragging its bum," as Aussie motorists would say.
The station wagon was in Ford showrooms in November 1960, just two months after the sedan, and was immediately successful. In May 1961, Ford released the Falcon panel van and utility both mechanically identical to their sedan and wagon siblings with the exception of larger-section 6.70x13 tires instead of the narrower 6.00 X 13s.
Read about the face-lift Ford gave to the Falcon in 1962 on the next page.
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