Ford Falcon History from Wikipedia
The Ford Falcon is an automobile which was produced by Ford Motor Company from 1960 to 1970 across three generations. It was a sales success for Ford initially, outselling rival compacts from Chrysler and General Motors introduced at the same time.
The Falcon was offered in two-door and four-door sedan, two-door and four-door station wagon, two-door hardtop, convertible, sedan delivery and Ranchero pickup body configurations. For several years, the Falcon name was also used on passenger versions of the Ford Econoline van. Variations of the Ford Falcon were manufactured in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile and Mexico.
Edsel Ford first used the term "Falcon" for a more luxurious Ford he designed in 1935. He decided the new car did not fit with Ford's other offerings, so this design eventually became the Mercury.
Historically, the "Big Three" auto manufacturers (GM, Ford and Chrysler), focused purely on the larger and more profitable vehicles in the US and Canadian markets. Towards the end of the 1950s, all three manufacturers realized that this strategy would no longer work. Large automobiles were becoming increasingly expensive, making smaller cars such as Volkswagens and Toyotasincreasingly attractive. Furthermore, many American families were now in the market for a second car, and market research showed women especially thought the full-size car had grown too large and cumbersome. At the same time, that research showed many buyers would prefer to buy US or Canadian if the domestic manufacturers offered a smaller, cheaper car. Thus, all three introducedcompacts: the Valiant from Chrysler (becoming the Plymouth Valiant in 1961), GM's rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair, and the Ford Falcon. Studebaker also introduced the Lark, and Ramblerdownsized its near-compact American in 1960.
The project which became the Falcon was started and sponsored by Ford General Manager Robert S. McNamara, who commissioned a team to create what by American standards of the time would be a small car but elsewhere in the world considered a mid-size. McNamara, who was promoted to Group Vice President of Cars and Trucks by the time Falcon was launched, was intimately involved in development, insisting on keeping the costs and weight of the car as low as possible. Engineer Harley Copp employed a unibody atop a standard suspension and sourced parts from Ford's existing bin to keep the price low yet provide room for six passengers in reasonable comfort.
Ford Falcon Story from Falcon Club of America
The Ford Motor Company produced the Falcon family of vehicles from 1960 through the 1970 model years. Everything from sedans to vans to innovative small trucks could be ordered with the Falcon emblem. Originally envisioned as a compact economy car, Falcons evolved through four distinct body style phases. Of these, model years 1963-1965 are considered to be the most collectible. In the first five years of its existence, the Falcon marquee transitioned from bare bones econo-boxes to an array of small cars offering sporty convertibles, as well as exciting V-8 powered cars.
The Falcon truck, called the Ranchero, began its life in 1957 as part of the Fairlane lineup. In 1960, the design was drastically restyled to align itself with the Falcon design family. It continued to be a highly successful part of the Falcon line until 1966, when Ford began to market it separately from the rest of the Falcons. In 1967, this divorce was formalized when the Ranchero rejoined the Fairlanes. It enjoyed great sales success for many years afterwards in that role.
The Roots Of Ranchero
The Original 1957 Ford Ranchero (left), along with the car from which it was derived, The 1957 Ford Fairlane. Note the difference between this body style and the Radically Restyled 1960 Falcon Ranchero.
The Falcon marque began to realize its potential when, late in the 1964 model year, Ford introduced the Mustang, another sporty compact car that achieved some (small) amount of popularity. Ford utilized the Falcon's unitized chassis, as well as many elements of the Falcon drive train, to "re-skin" and "re-market" the Mustang. From then on, the Falcon existed in the shadow of its more popular offspring, finally fading away in 1971, a victim of corporate marketing neglect. The success of the Volkswagen and other compacts, along with the Arab oil embargo just a few years later, proved how forward-thinking the original Falcon designers were. Like many good ideas, it peaked just a little too early. Collectors of these great cars appreciate the compact design, the simplicity of maintenance and operation, and the innovative thinking of its designers. Simply put, they are a lot of fun. If you are looking for a great car to restore and enjoy, consider a classic Ford Falcon or Falcon Ranchero.
FALCON DEVELOPMENT CHRONOLOGY
(From Phil Cottrill's Book, The Ford Falcon: 1960-1963)
- 1942-1946: Ford Light Car Project developed 7 pilot models on wheelbases from 97-112 inches.
- 1945: Earle S. MacPherson was appointed chief engineer of Chevrolet Cadet project.
- 1952: Robert S. MacNamara was made Assistant General Manager of Ford Division. He immediately appointed a Market Research Unit to study who was buying the Volkswagon and why.
- 1956: Ford management was firmly convinced that a car sized between the Volkswagon and the standard Ford could be successfully marketed.
- 1957, March: Ford Motor Company committed itself to build the Falcon.
- 1957: A low weight six cylinder OHV engine was developed for the Falcon.
- 1957, November: Ford President, E.R. Breech, announced to Ford management that the optimum economy car appeared to be the 2,400 pound car with a six cylinder engine.
- 1958, Summer: Falcon clay model finalized and accepted by Ford management.
- 1958: Jack Hooven appointed chief engineer for Falcon development.
- 1959, February: The New York Times published an article about the Ford XK-Thunderbird project.
- 1959, May 21: Henry Ford II announced the Falcon Project at a Ford stockholders' meeting.
- 1959: The first non-prototype Falcons assembled at the Ford Pilot Assembly Plant.
- 1959, September 9: The 1960 Falcon was released to the press.
- 1959, September 10: 14 Falcons with experienced endurance drivers began covering every mile of Federally numbered highways in the continental United States.
- 1959, October 2: The 1960 Corvair arrived at dealer showrooms.
- 1959, October 3: The 1960 Falcon made its public debut.
- 1959, October 29: Plymouth's 1960 Valiant goes on public display.
- 1959, November: Falcon sales take off and Falcon soon becomes "King Of The Compacts."
- 1960, Winter: Falcon Station Wagons introduced.
- 1960, Spring: 1960 Ranchero introduced.
- 1960, September 25: 1961 Falcon line introduced. It included the 170 inch engine and the Econoline utility vehicles.
- 1960, December: Robert S. MacNamara left Ford to become Secretary of Defense. The Falcon lost its strong backing.
- 1961, Early: The Falcon Sedan Delivery was introduced.
- 1961, April 9: 1961 Futura introduced to combat [Corvair] Monza Coupe sales.
- 1961, September 19: 1962 Falcon line introduced.
- 1962, February 14: 1962 Sports Futura with four speed transmission introduced.
- 1962, September 11: 1963 Falcon line introduced, including Falcon convertible.
- 1963, February: 1963 1/2 Falcons introduced. Included 260 V-8, hardtops, and the Sprint line.
- 1963, July: Last 1963 1/2 Falcons produced. Dies shipped to Argentina.
- 1964, April: The Ford Mustang introduced late in the 1964 model year.
- 1965: Falcon Sprint production falls off sharply, the Mustang having co-opted its market niche. Less than 3,000 1965 Falcon Sprint hardtops and less than 500 Sprint convertibles in production. This is the last year for the Falcon Sprints. Ford produced other "Sprints" but these were to be mere shadows of the original.
- 1966: Falcon line again promoted as an economical alternative to the Mustang, as well as the Ford line generally. With the new body style, Falcon hardtops and convertibles are dropped from the lineup. Except for minor changes, this third-generation body style would continue almost until the end.
- 1967: Ranchero's association with the Falcon line is dropped. The disassociation process has started in the 1966 model year. From the beginning of the 1967 model year onward, the Ranchero was reunited with the Fairlane marquee, having been introduced as such in 1957. It continued on as a successful Ford product for many years thereafter.
- 1971, January: The 1970 1/2 Falcon was introduced based on the Torino body, with Falcon badging. The design was poorly received and the Falcon marquee was dropped at the end of the model year. Rumors persisted that Ford dealers were provided with re-badging kits to convert these Falcons to Torinos in an effort to improve sales. The Ford Maverick assumed the original Falcon mantle as the Ford economy-class car. This marketing heritage can be followed through to the present day via the Escort, Tempo, and Contour.