XE Ford Falcon (1982-84)
The XE Falcon was produced between 1982 and 1984 by Ford Australia and was the second vehicle in the fourth generation of Australian-made Ford Falcons.
The XE marked the first instance of Ford Australia surpassing Holden Australia in domestic annual sales, a milestone not expected to be achieved within its class. The Falcon would continue to outsell the Commodore until 1988. A significant factor contributing to the XE’s high sales was the price point of certain models compared to the number of features included.
The XE replaced Ford’s XD Falcon and featured revisions to its predecessor. Changes were made to the vehicles front end design such as relocating the Ford badge from the grille to the bonnet, and utilisation of a wrap-over bonnet to reduce grille size and accentuate headlights.
In the sedans, leaf springs were replaced with coil springs and a four-link system. Another significant variation was the XD’s V8 being replaced by a 4.1L, six-cylinder.
The initial motivation for Ford moving away from V8 models was the increasing demand for more fuel-efficiency. However, the six-cylinder engine models failed to reach the performance benchmark set by the previously used 4.9L V8, producing only 149hp and 325Nm of torque.
Transmission options included 3-speed and 4-speed manual transmissions, as well as a 3-speed automatic transmission. The XE’s 3.3 litre engine models also had an optional manual 5-speed transmission, a first for the Ford Falcon.
Nine XE models were produced between 1982 and 1984: the Falcon utility and van; the Falcon GL utility, van, sedan and wagon; and the Fairmont sedan, wagon and Ghia sedan.
An updated version of the Falcon S-Pack was made available for the Falcon GL range, with a European Sports Pack (ESP) offered for Fairmont Ghia Sedan models.
The majority of ESP Ghia models can be easily discerned from standard Fairmont Ghias, however the “Option 54” Fairmont Ghia’s are particularly similar visually to the standard model. Option 54 XE Fairmont Ghia ESP’s were a limited production run and often fetch a much higher price due to their rarity.
Other limited edition models of the XE included the X-Pak wagon and sedan(1982), the Limited Edition Fairmont Ghia sedan (1983) and the Falcon Eclipse wagon and sedan (1984).
The XE Falcon was the first vehicle to receive an Australian Design Award, a national award for industrial design.
The XE also saw substantial success in Australian motorsport during the 1980s. Dick Johnson drove a Group C spec 5.8L XE sedan to win the 1984 Australian Touring Car Championship. The Falcon came to be known as ‘Greens Tuf’ due to its green colour scheme and one of the products produced by sponsor, Palmer Tube Mills. It reached a rate of 360kW (480hp) and was eventually retired by the end of 1984.
As the demand for fuel-efficiency began to ease, Australians started to favour the full-size Falcon as opposed to the more compact Holden Commodore. After over a decade of Holden maintaining the upper-hand in the Australian market, the Falcon topped annual sales in 1982. Over 190,000 Falcon XE units were produced between 1982 and 1984, before it was replaced by the XF Falcon in October 1984.