XL Ford Falcon (1962-64)
The introduction of the XL Falcon in August of 1962 saw a number of changes that improved the vehicle considerably over its predecessor the XK Falcon.
Upon its release the XK Falcon faced a significant amount of public skepticism regarding the vehicles ability to withstand the harsh Australian roads. Ford responded with the XL, by adding additional strengthening to the chassis, steering and a heavier-duty suspension which helped eradicate problems that had plagued the previous model.
At the time, Ford was determined to improve its market share and present the Australian public with a stylish, more modern vehicle. They did so by promoting the Falcon as “Trim, taught, terrific”. It’s sleek lines and American influenced styling was marketed to give buyers a sense of style, combined with durability.
This marketing strategy was intentional as Ford Australia not only had to earn back reservations amongst buyers, but also compete with General Motors, it’s main rival, who had a strangle hold on vehicle sales at the time – outselling Ford by 3:1.
Whilst the XL Falcon shared most of it’s styling and design from the XK, it looked considerably different. Most notable were changes made to the front end. The grille was altered from a concave shape to convex, the headlights were recessed, and the indicators were now mounted within the bumper.
The front fenders remained unchanged whilst additional stainless and chrome complimenting both the guards and bonnet. In addition, a new “air scoop” chrome trim was fitted to the hood, and the rear tail lamps were larger.
The most significant change however was the Falcons roof line. The rear pillars were much wider, which in turn improved visibility through a larger rear window, as well as improving overall torsional rigidity. At the time these changes were marketed to reflect Fords “Thunderbird” style theme.
Although there were a number of cosmetic changes made, interior and exterior dimensions remained relatively unchanged.
Mechanically, there were number of improvements made to the XL, such as a newer, stronger clutch with improved gear ratios to improve low speed acceleration, upgraded suspension, new oil and air cleaners, a newer, quieter starter motor, and improved braking.
Vehicles were optioned with the 144 cu inline-six (90hp), and the pursuit 170 cu in inline-six, which produced 101 hp. A much improved, quieter, smoother ride resulted from the addition of torsional dampeners and enhancements made to the front strut towers. A new carburettor was fitted, which improved performance and economy.
All models could be optioned with either the three speed manual column shift transmissions or Ford’s two speed “Ford-O-Matic” automatic transmission.
The XL Falcon’s model line-up consisted of four door sedans, wagons and two door utilities. New models included the Futura sedan and the Falcon Squire four-door station wagon.
The Futura sedan was essentially a luxurious version of the Falcon which offered a number of upgraded trimmings both on the inside and out. On the outside, special badging, stainless steel window frame capping’s and side mouldings differentiated the Futura from the standard deluxe, whilst on the inside, rear seat armrests, special interior trim, individual bucket-type front seats, as well as a centre console gave passengers a sense of sophistication.
The Falcon Squire four-door wagon presented with a distinctive fake wood trim exterior, which divided public opinion. Whilst popular in the US, it failed to resonate with the Australian public, and as a consequence, fewer units sold, making the Squire a much sought after model to this day.
The XL Falcon was received with greater positivity by the public and went on to sell more than 75,000 units across all model variants. In February 1964 the XL would eventually be replaced by the XM Falcon.