XK Ford Falcon (1960-62)

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Vehicle Overview

The XK Ford Falcon is a mid-sized vehicle that was produced by Ford Australia between 1960 and 1962. It was the first generation of this Australian-made model and was produced up until August 1962.

When Ford Australia launched the first Falcon in 1960 the market was dominated heavily by Holden. Upon it’s release Holden was outselling Ford 3:1 and while Ford went through several marketing, manufacturing and sales challenges early on, the XK Falcon sedan would eventually become an iconic car that would go on to change the Australian motoring industry for good.

The sleek, more modern and contemporary styling of the Falcon made the FB series Holden look dated by comparison. Promoted as “Australian-with a world of difference”, the XK Falcon was essentially a right-hand drive version of the North American model, initially offered only as a four-door sedan, in both Falcon and Falcon Deluxe trim levels.

Minor changes to that of the US version of course included, right hand drive, heavy-duty rear suspension (five leaves) to accommodate more rugged Australian conditions, as well as larger 6.50 x 13 tyres. Not only did the XK Falcon offer greater styling but also better performance – the 144 cu inline-six, which produced 67 kW (90 hp) and an optional 170 cu in inline-six, which produced 75 kW (101 hp). Both engines were available with either the Ford-O-Matic two speed automatic transmission or a three-speed column shift manual. Holden at the time did not offer an automatic transmission.

The rear axle was optioned with a 3.56:1 ratio which better complemented the torque characteristics of the engine. Steering was light and the ride surprisingly good, on well-paved roads, with front seat belts being optional.

Whilst selling well initially, confidence amongst buyers became an issue as problems with both transmissions and suspensions became evident.

Structural failures within the strut towers was largely due to inadequate strengthening of the front suspension to cope with Australian conditions. Also gearbox components failed and both problems combined, gave the XK Falcon a less than desirable reputation. As a consequence, the following models had upgraded, more robust front suspensions and transmissions.

In February 1961 just a few short months after the Ford XK sedan made its debut, Australia’s first Falcon ute and van range was launched. The new ute was designed and modelled on the latest US Falcon-based Ford Ranchero pickup (ute) with a few modifications to withstand the more robust demands of Australian drivers and the tough Australian conditions. The Australian Falcon ute was Ford’s first compact sedan-based six-cylinder commercial half-tonne truck range that was locally built and designed.

The Australian Falcon range differed to the US version in that the US Ranchero used the longer doors of the two-door Falcon model, this meant the load floor sat behind the rear wheels creating a greater overhang. This longer length US design was too vulnerable to major damage while negotiating Australian road conditions and for this reason Ford Australia presented a unique short-tailed version of the Falcon sedan, wagon, ute and panel van range all sharing the same wheelbase of 109.5-inch and 181-inch in overall length.

The Ford Falcon XK 5-door wagon body type was produced by Ford Australia between 1960 and 1962 and the Deluxe Wagon was added to the range in September 1960. The RWD (rear-wheel drive), manual 3-speed gearbox was standard, but unlike the Holden the Falcon was available from the outset with a two-speed auto and optional 2.8-litre, 77kW ‘Pursuit Six’.

Even the XK’s base 144ci engine was slightly bigger producing 12kW more than Holden’s 2.3-litre ‘grey’ motor and produced 12kW more. Top speed was 136 km/h (85 mph) and despite the initial challenges Ford experienced the Wagon held a respectable share of the market

The XK Falcon sedan delivery commenced production in March 1961 with a mere 10 vehicles being produced that month. Over the next 16 months a total of 1,533 units were produced, (792 in 1961, and 741 in 1962) before production ended and the replacement model, the XL Falcon sedan delivery was released. The XK sedan delivery only accounted for 2.2% of total production for the XK Falcon in its entirety. As most were used for commercial purposes, it is estimated that very few survived, making them desirable amongst collectors.

 

During its production lifecycle the XK Falcon sold more than 45,000 units, eventually being replaced by the XL Falcon in 1962.

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