Help Buying a 1960's Ford Falcon!

So over the past couple of years my love of the Ford Falcon has blossomed into full blown obsession and now I must own one. I’m not a wealthy guy so I am looking at spending about $8,000 on one, which seems doable. The thing is, there is not a lot of information on the Ford Falcon around the internet. I’d like to get some info about people’s experience with 60’s model Falcons. What to be careful of? What to look for? What kind of gas mileage could I get? What is the difference between the Futura and the Sprint?

For me a convertible is preferred but not required. A bench seat in the front is an absolute must.

General thoughts and knowledge on 60’s For Falcons would be greatly appreciated!

$8000 should get you a pretty nice one, since they are not as collectible as the Mustang which was originally based on the Falcon. It is one of my favorites, too, but I am not sure why. Probably the simplicity of it.

The Falcon was primarily a basic “economy” car. Most have a straight 6 motor and are very basic. This makes them easy to work on. I’d look for a 2 door with a V8 but there aren’t that many V8’s that came out of the factory.

Be mindful the brakes on the Falcon are “poor” at best. Many Falcons did not have power brakes and most had drum brakes on all 4 wheels. When they get wet you simply don’t stop, so be very careful when the roads are wet.

Safety features in the Falcon might not even include seat belts in the earliest years.

  1. Rust
  2. Rust
  3. Rust

These can be real rust buckets, just like the Mustang that shared much of the same mechanical pieces. So you have to check it out carefully (magnet) for rust EVERYWHERE, particularly the floor, the cowel, and suspension mounting areas. I’d not get a 144 or a 170 six, especially not with an automatic. And rust is a bigger issue with convertibles because of the added water leakage possibilities and the inherent weakness that comes with removing the roof.

There are a good number around, check this out:

It seems to me that the Sprint was a special model of the Falcon with the 260 or 289 cubic inch V-8 engine. I think that the convertible Falcon was introduced in 1963. The convertible could be had with either the 6 or the V-8. I think that the V-8 was also made available in 1963. The Falcon automatic transmission in the early models was a 2 speed automatic. Later models of the Falcon did offer a 200 cubic inch 6 that had 7 main bearings instead of 5.
In the earlier Falcons, the 170 cubic inch gives much better performance than the 144 cubic inch six. The cars were simple to keep in repair. One real problem is that the top of the gas tank in many of these Falcons was the floor of the trunk. Be sure to check for rust in this area.

This is ancient history for me but I’ve known a few people who owned Falcons many years ago. Any info is off the top of my head and may not be 100% accurate.
My aunt had a ho-hum 61 model Falcon. (4 door, standard) Good car, not powerful, and decent on gas.

A guy I ran around with in high school had a 63 convertible Sprint I think it was. The Sprint was the version with a 260 V-8. In this case he also had a 4 speed in it and this little car would flat move when nailed.

I sold a VW Bus to a guy across the street from me and some time later another traded a 65 Falcon to him even up on the bus. (Darn it.) This was the later squared off body style. 2 DR with the V-8 and 4 speed manual. It was pretty fast and he drove this car the rest of his college career.

A local guy here has one of the 65 Falcon Rancheros and it’s a real beauty. It’s been converted to a fuel injected 5.0 though. It looks original on the outside but underneath it’s a monster.

I think (?) the Futura was the model with bucket seats so you might avoid that badge if you want a bench seat. Regarding the guy I ran around with who owned the 63 I vaguely remember that car having bucket seats so maybe a Sprint Futura would be the nameplate on that one? Hope that helps.

One other thing I remember about the early Falcons-- the wheels were 13 inch and held onto the hubs by only 4 studs.

Hmmm. We had a 60 Falcon. What can I say? Two speed transmission, very slow acceleration. Had to replace the engine at 60K. Couldn’t use the radio or the battery would go dead. Not uncomfortable, just a car and can’t remember the MPG but somewhere around 20 I suppose. It looked very nice after I polished and waxed it, but it was never more than a plain ole fishing or commuting car. Now our 61 Mercury, that would be something I’d like or our 57 Ford.

Wow. Everybody has been so helpful! Thank you all for your input.

I have one additional question, how do you all feel about the Falcon as a primary car. Not a weekend car, but like a car driven every day, even to commute maybe 13 miles each way or so?

I would never use it as a daily driver. Hobby car? Fine. But the brakes stink and it’ll fold up like a beer can in a crash, with not one safety system on it. Also, that gas tank will happily spew gas into the trunk, separated by only a seat back from you…not good.

p.s.-my first car was a 64 1/2 Mustang, a Falcon in different sheetmetal.

Daily driver? Really? You are joking, right?

My first reaction was that if you want help buying a 1960s Falcon, you just need help. On the other hand, I never met a 1960s Corvair that I didn’t like. I once owned a 1961 Corvair Monza coupe. In defense of the Falcon, the Falcon was certainly easier to service than the Corvair. While I prefer the Corvair over the other compacts of this period, I find the Studebaker Lark, particularly with the V-8, more interesting than the Falcon in compacts built before 1964. In the compacts from 1964 and later, I think the Rambler American has the edge over the Falcon.
The 1960 Falcon racked up the best sales of the compacts. Its simplicity made it easy to service and Ford had an extensive network of dealers, particularly in rural areas. The two speed automatic provided anemic acceleration. The three speed manual had a big gap between first and second gear. The second gear was too high for driving in traffic. In its day, the Falcon provided reliable, inexpensive transportation. For a daily driver, however, its day has long since past.

If you buy an old Falcon as a primary car you need a back up plan. Hopefully public transportation would work for a few days. If you need to drive it on modern interstates every day for commuting, I’d say forget it.

I looked on ebay and the Falcons I saw were either rust buckets needing lots of restoration or Falcons that had been hopped up with larger engines and special parts. These are not the best cars to be daily drivers.

Yeah, my Dad had a Lark too. Can’t remember if it was before or after the Falcon. I had a 61 Corvair for a second car. That was a fun car but my wife had to drive it to school and the interior smoked up like crazy. We’d take it out after a huge snow storm though and go drift jumping with it. Never got stuck. But I never took that out on the highway either.

The daily driver came up because astonishingly, here in Souther California, there are a lot of Falcons advertised as “daily drivers.”

I do love the Rambler but it seems more difficult to find. I may look into a Studebaker lark.

I just love the look of the Falcon though. It seems understated but classic. I’ve just alway been kind of an old car sort of guy. I’ve never really enjoyed modern cars, they don’t seem to feel right to me. (I know that is pure nostalgia) Oh, and for the record, I do have a back-up car. 99 Camry that just won’t die :slight_smile:

Anyhow, perhaps this should be another thread entirely, but if one were really determined to drive something classic looking (i.e. Falcon, Rambler, Studebaker Lark) on a daily basis. What would be the most sensible thing to do? (Sensible being acknowledged as a subjective term)

This was Fords first foray into unibody construction…The suspension and steering was “light duty” to say the least…Little effort was put into rust-proofing so finding a rust-free car today will take great effort…The early Falcons were kind of round and smooth looking and the later ones were square with sharp corners…Many became parts cars for Mustangs. Most of them were 6 cylinder 3-speeds with automatics becoming more popular in the later years…If you find a V8 4-speed, chances are someone has installed a Mustang powertrain because very, very few 4-speeds found their way into Falcons and V8’s were almost as rare…For a few dollars more, you could buy a Fairlane where high performance engines and 4-speeds were a LITTLE more common…The Ranchero and Convertible Falcons bring the most money, lots of money, because of their very low production numbers…Daily driver? WHY?? They were crude cars, you had to DRIVE them… You had to learn how to start them. They get old pretty quick if you are accustomed to driving a modern car…

Here are a couple of Southern Cali Falcons. Maybe you can talk the dealer down, or you might like either at the price.

Two big drawbacks of using a 1960s car like the Falcon as a daily driver are:

  1. Brakes. As others have noted, the brakes are terrible. Disk brakes were not used on most cars of this vintage. With its 13" wheels, the brakes on the Falcon were not even great for the time.

  2. Steering. Most Falcons of this period didn’t have power steering. Therefore, the steering was particularly slow to make the steering easy.

Old cars are fun, but they aren’t daily drivers on today’s highways.

This one will sell for considerably less than $10K…

If your daily commute is short and the car you buy is in excellent condition you might be happy with it. But I think someone suggested having a backup plan and that would be a good idea. I bought a 1961 Falcon wagon in 1964 for $100 and parked it on hills so I could roll it to a start until I could afford a new battery but I had a Harley to drive when needed. And yes, the uni-body will likely be rusted and dangerous. If manual the shift collar will be a pain. But if it suits you, enjoy.