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.
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Road-testers also had a crack at the 1963, 1964, 1965 Ford Falcon Futura Sprint that had taken the top two honors in their class at the 2,500-mile Monte Carlo rally. No other cars in that class even finished the event.
With its V-8 boosted to a delicious 260 horsepower via 10:1 compression and four-barrel carburetion -- among other stimulants -- this special Rally edition squeezed the 0-60 time down to an eye-opening seven and a half seconds.
A total of 15,081 Sprints were built in their opening season, 4,602 of them convertibles. That was just a small fraction of the total output of 328,399 Falcons in 1963, but gave shoppers a broader range of possibilities from which to select.
Cobra engine performance kits for the 260-cid Falcon, inspired by Ford-powered Cobras, were available through Ford dealers to satisfy owners who might enjoy tuning their Sprints to reach as far as 225 horsepower or so.
Falcons adopted a much different personality for 1964 with their all-new bodies. Wedge-look bodysides with twin tapered creaselines replaced the original chubby-cheeked roundness, giving the whole car a more leaning-forward stance.
The flatter, slightly angled grille displayed a looser Crosshatch pattern. Inside the Sprint was a racing-style three-spoke steering wheel. Only a handful of 289-cid V-8s went into 1964 Falcons (late in the year), but their 36 extra horsepower gave the compact an even greater performance jolt than the initial V-8.
A more potent (105-bhp) six went into 1965 Falcons, which could also get a larger (200-cid) six and three-speed Cruise-O-Matic. AH V-8s were 289-cid size, but the Sprint variant was fading fast. Futuras could have the V-8 engine, and sold reasonably well, but Ford brochures neglected to mention the Sprint at all. Only 3,106 came off the line this time.
Lee Iacocca merits First Prize for turning the pedestrian Falcon into a sprightly Sprint. After 1965, the Falcon name continued but on a completely different, larger car, kin to the Fairlane. Convertibles were out.
Falcon's legacy reached in other directions, however, making a mark on the Mustangs and Comets of the 1960s, and even the Maverick of the following decade.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1963-1965 Ford Falcon Futura Sprint specifications.
For more information on cars, see:
1963, 1964, 1965 Ford Falcon Futura Sprint Specifications
The 1963, 1964, 1965 Ford Falcon Futura Sprint eventually became a high-powered performance machine and won the Monte Carlo rally.
Engines: all ohv V-8: 1963-64 260 cid (3.80 x 2.87), 164 bhp 1965 289 cid (4.00 x 2.87), 200 bhp
Transmissions: 3-speed manual; optional 4-speed manual, 2-speed Fordomatic or 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic (1965)
Suspension, front: lower A-arms, coil springs, stabilizing struts, anti-roll bar
Suspension, rear: live axle, leaf springs
Brakes: front/rear drums
Wheelbase (in.): 109.5
Weight (lbs.): 2,308-3,008
Top speed (mph): V-8 105-107
0-60 mph (sec): V-8 10.9-12.1