1 Sep 1960
The 1960 Ford Falcon is a landmark Australian family car.
Developed during the latter 1950s, it was Ford of America’s 1959 “compact car” answer to the booming VW Beetle.
Australia picked up the US design in 1956, when local execs saw an early clay model, and regarded it as a more effective sales weapon against the Holden than the costlier English-sourced Zephyr.
The latter, praised for its strength and durability, was no match against “Australia’s Own”, which by 1958 made up one-in-two car sold here.
On the other hand the Falcon looked more modern, could seat six passengers, used six-cylinder engines and, due to its lightness, was also cheaper to build.
So Ford Australia switched, and built its new bird from many US-sourced parts at a new (Broadmeadows) plant in Melbourne.
Launched in September 1960, it was an instant hit, with its sleek airy lines (Holden’s recently released FB looked like the 1955 styling throwback it was), 67kW/187Nm 2.4-litre/144 cubic-inch or optional 75kW/212Nm 2.8/170cu OHV ‘sixes’ (the FB made do with a 56kW 2.26) and optional two-speed automatic transmission (Holden’s was still almost a year away).
Yet, like the FB, the XK still only offered three-speed column-shift manual, vinyl seats, drum brakes and leaf-spring rear suspension – in base or Deluxe guises. Ford sold the Falcon in four-door sedan, wagon (from November ’60), ute and panel van variations.
But unlike Holden, these early US-engineered Falcons’ American-built front suspension parts couldn’t cope with our rougher Aussie roads, and many (especially rural cars’) front ends quickly wilted.
Rust and gearbox woes were also unwelcome traits. Word quickly spread, sales slowed and Holden remained king, particularly as its radical (and Falcon-like) EJ from mid-’62 put it on an even packaging footing. Meanwhile 68,413 XKs were built.