XC Ford Falcon (1976-79)
The XC Falcon was released by Ford Australia in July 1976 as a replacement to it’s predecessor, the XB. This would be the third and final iteration in the third generation of Falcons. The XC was essentially a restyle of the XB, but visually it was quite different to the former model.
The major differences included a new horizontal grill design, rectangular headlights, which were fitted to the more expensive models and more extensive chrome bumpers. Visibility was increased across the range with raised front seats and a newly designed dash. The XC would be the first Australian-made car to wear the Ford blue oval badge in the center of the grill that replaced the individual letters spelling out the Ford name across the bonnet.
The XC Falcon was the first Falcon that didn’t include a GT variant since it was first introduced in 1967 with the XR. The Futura was also dropped from the range, however there would be a number of new models such as the Fairmont GXL, Cobra and GS hardtop.
The XC saw improvements to the 3.3L and 4.1L inline-six engines in order to comply with new Australian emissions laws. Redeveloping the engines with a cross-flow head design, Ford managed to improve performance of the old six-cylinder engines, as well as making them run cleaner and more efficiently. The 302 and 351 V8 engines were still available as optioned on the lower priced models and fitted as standard to the top of the range Fairmont sedans and wagons.
The Fairmont GXL was released to take the place of the now retired GT model. This was Ford’s top-of-the-range luxury sedan and came with a choice of V8’s or the revised 4.1L six-cylinder engine. Advertised as Ford Australia’s answer to a European sports sedan, the GXL format didn’t prove very popular with the car buying public so it was eventually dropped upon the release of the XD Falcon.
A Falcon GS hardtop model fitted with the 4.1L inline-six and was available, as well as a GS rally package that could be added to the lower priced models. The “GS” or grand sport rally pack included mostly cosmetic upgrades, such as decals and a scooped bonnet.
The standard range of sedans, wagons and commercial vehicles were available with nine different passenger and five commercial models. A new approach from Ford was the Sundowner, which was a performance-styled variation of the panel van – a commercial vehicle promoted as a leisure vehicle with Ford calling it its “Cruisin’ van.” The Sundowner was fitted with a 4.1L six-cylinder engine and although it was amongst the commercial range, it featured a lot of the GS styling, as well as bold exterior paintwork and a unique fold-down tailgate.
The XC range also spawned a number of limited edition cars, including the Cobra and the Allan Moffat special. Interestingly, the XC Cobra was designed as a way to dispense with the last of the manufactured hardtop bodies. With the soon to be released XD Falcon of the same year, the XC Cobra was created at the suggestion of Edsel Ford II. Taking inspiration from the Shelby-Mustangs of the 1960s, the Cobras were painted white with blue stripes and cobra decals. The production run was limited to 400 units.
Capitalizing on Allan Moffat’s 1977 Bathurst win, Ford released a limited edition “Allan Moffat Special” which was a GT-styled sedan with the 4.9L V8 engine. Only 500 units were produced.
Between July 1976 and March 1979, Ford Australia produced 171,082 XC Falcons before they were replaced with the XD Falcon.