Before There Was The Mustang, There Was The Falcon

My town, Franklin, MA, has a very enjoyable annual July 4th celebration.  Many people from the surrounding towns come to Franklin every year to take part in the celebration.  In the parade this year was a 1963 Ford Falcon convertible driven by a couple of ladies who were very much enjoying being in the parade with the Falcon.


1963 Ford Falcon Convertible

The Ford Falcon was introduced in 1960 as an economy car that expanded the Ford lineup toward smaller cars.  In 1963 Ford began to add some performance to the Falcon, which was needed.  While this was going on, Ford was developing the Ford Mustang using many parts from the Ford Falcon.

Ford Falcon Futura 1963 (1)

The Ford Falcon Futura Model Designation Is Prominent Displayed On The Trunk Lid

The economy car image and desire for low cost kept the Ford Falcon’s standard interior from being too fancy.  Note the few gages and a 100 mile per hour limit on the speedometer.

Ford Falcon Futura 1963 (8)

The Interior Was Not Overdone.  Bench Seats Were Standard In The Futura

The Falcon was in market competition against the Chevrolet Corvair, the Dodge Dart, Plymouth Valiant, and the Chevy II.  The Falcon was winning over the first generation of Corvairs, due in large part to a scathing book written by Ralph Nader called “Unsafe At Any Speed”.  The Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant cars of the early 1960s where visual designs that are best forgotten.  The Chevy II was a formidable car that was substantial competition for the Ford Falcon.

Ford Falcon Convertible 1963 (8)

Bucket Seats Were Available As An Option

When the Falcon was first introduced in 1960 the only available engine was a short-stroke inline six of only 144 cubic inches that was rated at 90 horsepower. But the extremely short stroke engine design meant that the car developed little usable torque.  The Falcons were very slow.  There was a story in my home town in Ontario that during the late 1960s, the local police chief pulled over a teenager (I am withholding the name) driving an early 1960s six-cylinder Ford Falcon and accused him of “squealing the tires” which would mean a fine for “unnecessary noise”.  The teenager got out of the car, handed the keys of the Falcon to the police chief and told him that the car would not “squeal the tires”, but that the police chief was free to see if he could “squeal the tires” on the Falcon and if he could “squeal the tires”, then the teenager would plead guilty to “unnecessary noise”.  The police chief declined the offer and let him off with a warning.

Ford improved the Falcon for 1961 with the addition of a slightly longer stroke, 170 cubic-inch six cylinder engine that produced 101 horsepower, and in addition, the larger engine had improved torque.  At the same time,  the 144 cubic inch engine was more honestly rated at 85 horsepower, down from 90 horsepower rating of earlier years.

Ford Falcon Convertible 1963 (7)

This Ford Falcon Had The Floor Shift With The Bucket Seats

In 1962 Ford introduced the original small block V8 Windsor engine, which eventually led to the 351 cubic inch Windsor engine. The original Ford small block V8 engine had a displacement of 221 cubic inches.  The second version of the Windsor, introduced during the middle of the 1962 model year, had the same piston stroke but with the cylinder bore increased from 3.50 inches to 3.80 inches, increasing the engine displacement to 260 cubic inches.  The compression ratio was raised fractionally to 8.8:1. The rated power (SAE gross) rose from 145 horsepower to 164 horsepower at 4,400 rpm.

In 1963 the 260 cubic inch V8 engine became the base engine on full-size Ford sedans. Later in 1963 this availability was expanded to the smaller Ford Falcon and Mercury Comet lineups. The early “1964½” Ford Mustang also offered the 260, although it was dropped by mid-year in favor of the 289 cubic inch version of this same engine.  The 260 cubic inch V8 was also used in the 1964-1966 Sunbeam Tiger Mk I.  The subsequent 1967 Sunbeam Tiger Mk II also switched to the 289 cubic inch V8 engine.

Ford Falcon Futura 1963 (3)

The 170 Cubic Inch Six-Cylinder Engine

In the special rally version of the Falcon and in the early AC Cobras, a high-performance version of the 260 V8 with higher compression, hotter camshaft timing, and a four-barrel carburetor was used. This engine was rated (SAE gross) 260 hp at 5,800 rpm.  This was a substantial horsepower increase over the standard 260 cubic inch V8.

Ford Falcon Futura 260V8 (4)

Ford Falcons With The 260 Cubic Inch V8 Engine Have a Special 260 V8 Insignia On The Front Fender

In 1963 Ford entered three cars in the Monte Carlo Rally.  The team manager was English touring car racer Jeff Uren.  He used his racing mechanics to prepare the Ford Falcons for this legendary rally.  The three cars were driven by the following crews:

  • Bo Ljungfeldt/Gunnar Haggbom
  • Peter Jopp/Grant Jarman
  • Anne Hall/Margret Mackenzie

Ford Falcon Monte Carlo (1)

Bo Ljungfeldt/Gunnar Haggbom’s 1963 Monte Carlo Falcon

The picture below showing the Jopp/Jarman Falcon, Car #221, is rather interesting.  The Falcon is exiting a right turn on a mostly snow-covered road.  Look at the inside front tire.  It is barely touching the road.  This suggests that this car has both good grip and is able to get the power down to the road.  Very impressive!

Ford Falcon Monte Carlo (2)

Jopp/Jarman’s Ford Falcon, Car #221, In The 1963 Monte Carlo Rally

The Ford Falcon team did not get off to a good start.  The team chose to start the Monte Carlo Rally from Monte Carlo itself.  By starting in Monte Carlo that meant that the teams had to take a circular route out from Monte Carlo and then return.  Of the 32 cars that started from Monte Carlo, 17 were eliminated mainly by blocked roads.  This caused the cars to exceed the maximum allowable lateness.  The Bo Ljungfeldt car lost a lot of time during this phase of the rally which put them back in the field.  The Anne Hall/Margret MacKenzie entry was one of the cars that was over the limit during this initial phase of the rally.


Bo Ljungfeldt/Gunnar Haggbom’s Ford Falcon At The 1963 Monte Carlo Rally

On the stages the Bo Ljungfeldt Ford Falcon, Car #223, was the fastest car and driver in the Monte Carlo Rally.  However due to the time lost during the portion of the rally getting back to Monte Carlo, Ljungfeldt finished in 42nd overall position.  But he and the Ford Falcon certainly made an impression on the Monte Carlo Rally officials.  Some of the competition rules were changed for the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964 rally to make it more difficult for cars like the Ford Falcon to win the Monte Carlo rally.

Ford Falcon Monte Carlo (4)

Rally-Ready 1963 Ford Falcon

The Jopp/Jarman Ford Falcon shown above finished 34th Overall and 1st in the over 3000cc Class.  Ford did use the fact that it competed in the Monte Carlo Rally in its advertising for the Ford Falcon.

Ford Falcon Monte Carlo Ad

Note The Mention Of The Monte Carlo Rally In Falcon’s Advertising

Ford also used the improved Falcon performance in more wide-spread advertising as shown below.

Ford Falcon 1963-Falcon-Sprint-ad

Hard The Believe That Falcon Was Supposed To Be An Economy Car

The Ford Falcon was a significant car towards the development of Ford’s sporting image and it helped to blaze the trail for the Mustang.  The Falcon was impressive in the 1963 Monte Carlo, but the Falcons did even better in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally.


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4 Responses to Before There Was The Mustang, There Was The Falcon

  1. G. Hamilton says:

    I remember my mom (dad) bought a brand new 65 Mustang 289, v8 with a 3 speed on the floor. It was Burgandy (maroon) with the optional console and sport vinyl bucket seats. My dad did most of his own work and ordered the Ford factory shop manual. If I remember correctly the cover said “1965 Ford Falcon and Mustang” !

    We took that car on a trip from NY (Long Island) to Chicago up through Canada to the Falls.
    My mom, dad, 12 yo brother and me (10) plus our 75 lb Labrador Retriever in the back!
    I remember doing 80 up through Canada (no speed limit?).
    I drove that car through High School; they kept the car until 1984 and sold it as a 1 owner with about 120k on the clock.

    Had it been a fastback, or convertible I think I would still own it.
    BTW it was horrible in the snow without any weight in the trunk!

    • Hi Gary, thanks for that interesting note that the shop manual applied for both the Falcon and the Mustang. They were closely related, but I did not know that they might have shared the same shop manual.
      If you came from Chicago through Canada on the way to the Niagara Falls, then you must have traveled on Highway 401 in Ontario. The “fast” lane of the 401 has always been quite fast. There is and was a speed limit, but if you’re in the fast lane on the 401, then you better be ready to go. The police are there but they are not out necessarily hunting for speeders like they do on the New York State Thruway.


  2. Ramon Delgado says:

    Great article. Loved all the detailed information. And the pictures of original falcon. Nice job.

  3. Dave says:

    I soon will be the proud owner of a 1965 Falcon Futura 2 door hardtop. My father bought the car in 1978. I was 13 years old. The car was a daily driver until 1984, and has been garaged ever since. So many great memories of the car! And it never broke down or left us stranded. I am 52 years old now, and hope to restore the car, and enjoy it once again!

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