XP Ford Falcon (1965-66)
The XP Falcon is a mid-sized vehicle produced by Ford Australia from 1965 to 1966. It was the fourth and final iteration of the first generation of this Australian-made model, eventually replaced by the XR Falcon in September 1966.
The XP Falcon was an iconic vehicle for Ford Australia, setting the way for many years of success that would span more than 5 decades. However, it wasn’t without having to face significant challenges at the time.
Unfortunately, Ford Australia had faced fierce criticisms with the Falcon earning a less than desirable reputation. This was mainly due to mechanical problems, including premature suspension and transmission failures for earlier models such as the XK (launched in 1960) and subsequent XL and XM models. At the time it was believed the American-designed Falcon was unsuitable for the harsher Australian conditions – and that was probably true.
Needless to say, there was a great deal of pressure to address these issues, regain the trust of the Australian public and establish itself as a genuine contender within the automotive industry.
And that’s exactly what Ford Australia did.
Ford took drastic action and implemented a number of major changes for the XP Falcon. Those changes included a much-improved 3-speed Fordomatic (Borgwarner 35) automatic transmission which replaced the earlier two-speed unit on more upmarket models. Improvements were also made to address issues from earlier models such as a sturdy torque box around the body frame to increase rigidity, along with improvements made to the steering and rear suspension. Combined, these changes greatly improved the characteristics of the Falcon, making it far more durable and refined.
Ford also made improvements to the dash layout and seating comfort, remedying many of the criticisms levelled at the previous XM Falcon
Visually the XP received a completely redesigned and restyled front end, giving it a more squared-off front section – a significant change from the previous XM model. Inside, Ford made improvements to the dash layout and seating comfort, including a padded dash, and even bucket seats and a centre console in the Futura variations.
Offered with the choice of 3 engines, the 144CID, the 83kW/212Nm 170CID Pursuit, and Super Pursuit 200CID (3.3-litres) with 90kW and 237Nm of torque. Transmissions included the standard 3-speed manual transmission, as well as a 2 speed automatic (standard on the base model sedans and wagons) and Fords newly introduced 3 speed “Ford-o-matic” which enhanced performance. The 3-speed Ford-o-matic was standard on Futura sedans and hardtops and available as an option for other models, excluding commercial vehicles.
The 200CID “Super Pursuit” engine had a compression ratio of 8.7:1 and produced 121 bhp at 4400 rpm, giving a top speed just shy of 100mph and a very respectable 0-60mph time of 10.5 seconds.
Standard equipment included self-adjusting brakes, improved cabin insulation, durable Diamond Lustre paint, extensive rust proofing and undercoating, vinyl trim, safety glass, interior dome lights and 2-speed electric wipers. Optional extras included a rear venetian blind, push button radio, heater, padded dashboard, external front screen sun visor, dress rims, seat belts, reversing lights, rear wheel covers (spats) stylish side mirrors and more.
The XP range was substantial with a number of different models and body styles available. They included base model sedans, station wagons, Deluxe sedans and wagons, Futuras and even Fairmonts, which were released to compete directly with Holdens premier range. A short run of 90 Falcon Squire station wagons were produced but were discontinued as they proved unpopular with Australian buyers – most likely due to the heavily influenced (woody) American styling. These are considered desirable in todays market being quite rare.
Body styles included sedans, wagons, utilities, hardtops, sedan deliveries (panel vans) and a hardtop variation which was an advantage Ford Australia had over its competitors.
When sold new, prices ranged from £1075 for a base model sedan, up to £1525 for the Fairmont sedan, which was considered at the time to be the most prestige of the Falcon range. In August 1965 the XP Ford Falcon would go on to win the prestigious 1965 Wheels car of the Year award within Australia.