At this point I had owned quite a few cars but never a big, old, American cruiser. I figured I needed a cheap classic for the summer to cruise around in with my boys (my wife never indulges in my classic-car craziness); something for an ice cream run, or just a bit of joy-riding. Funds, as always, were in short supply but that just meant a little compromise was needed. Obviously it was not going to be a mainstream classic, but rather a forgotten one.
I came across an ad for a 1968 Ford Falcon that ran but needed cosmetic attention. It was a located in a small town to the north which meant most folks were too lazy to consider it. Not me, as I’ve found many a great buy with only a tiny bit of travel.
The third generation Ford Falcon is not nearly as popular with the hipster crowd as the first and second iterations. Perhaps because it was a size bigger, being based off the Fairlane, or the styling is a little more drab. In fact, the third generation Falcon is almost the definition of anonymous old car, especially in four door form. While some earlier Falcons had dabbled in a sporty side, by the third iteration the Mustang was taking care of the sporty and fun offerings while the Falcons was only offered in sensible shoes style trim.
While the Fairlane wheelbase had been shortened for Falcon use, length was up to 184.3″ on a 111″ wheelbase (longer for the wagons), with an almost 2″ gain in width. This third generation Falcon was sold in North America from 1966 to 1970 and featured both six and eight cylinder engines. Straight six options were either the 170 or the 200 CID Thiftpower six depending on year of production, as the smaller six was dropped later in the production run. The V8 could be had in 289cid or 302cid displacement depending on the year.
Chassis-wise the Falcon stuck close to the unit body Fairlane mold, which consisted of a semi-floating type rear axle suspended with leaf springs and shock absorbers. Front suspension featured coil springs and tube shocks. Steering was the usual for the era, a recirculating ball set up. B rakes were drums all around with the six cylinder cars getting 9″ brakes while the V8 cars were equipped with larger 10″ units. Rims were 14″ in size.
The seller was an older fellow who was clearing out his collection. I had seen a 1960 Envoy (Canadian variant on the Vauxhall Victor) of his years ago which proved too far gone to consider.
The Falcon was perfect for my needs however. It was dirt cheap, ran but had several cosmetic issues which could be resolved at a later date or ignored. The paint was poor but presentable enough for a classic beater. It was the interior that needed the most work. Someone had swapped in almost an entire Ford Tempo interior. The Tempo is a much narrower car and the seats did not fit right. The rear seat in particular was obviously too narrow. It is a shame I did not think to take any photos of the inside, so you will have to use your imagination.
Despite its flaws, I bought the Falcon for a grand total of $450. The red color proved quite fitting as it was Canada Day (rather like the United States’ July Fourth). My 1968 model featured a new dual headlight grill and side marker lights.
The Falcon drove remarkably straight and smooth down the highway; I quite enjoyed the relaxed classic cruising it offered. The brakes, while functional, would need a deeper look. The two older boys joined me in the Falcon but not the youngest, as the Tempo seat belts had not migrated over with the interior swap.
This particular Falcon was powered by a 200 cid inline six engine that made 115hp at 3800 rpm and 190 ft-lbs of torque at 2200 rpm when new. Engine accessibility does not get much better than this. It was a little dusty and dirty from its long term storage.
A shot of elbow grease, soap, water and the engine is looking semi-respectable.
On first glance, the trunk looked like new. Deeper investigation proved that an amateur body man had been in there at some point with some fresh paint. The fuel tank doubling as a trunk floor is a Ford period touch not often imitated by others.
The 1968 refresh included a brand new dashboard including a horizontal strip style speedometer. Warning lights replaced gauges in several instances. The odometer showed 94,xxx miles but I have not idea if it had turned over or not. The Tempo seats are just barely visible here.
The dash pad was sitting on the rear seat and once cleaned off proved to be in deplorable condition.
1968 was also the first year for the almost square rear tail lights. The mismatched random grab bag of tires and hub caps of my example is on display in this photo.
This generation of Falcon is almost the forgotten generation of Falcon. Unloved by most collectors and overshadowed by its more flashy Mustang and Fairlane cousins, the dowdy 1966-1970 Falcon is lost in the shuffle. Perhaps fittingly, this Falcon was also lost in my particular shuffle as well. I had my Mazda 808 coupe as my daily driver, the wife had a modern Nissan van, and on top of that I was suddenly offered a free Jeep Cherokee.
Hardly one to turn down a free vehicle, I needed the garage space so the Falcon was sold on in short order. The buyer was a young woman buying her first classic. I sold it to her for only $50 more than I had paid. She fixed up the brakes, refreshed the suspension, repainted the engine red and promptly sold it on shortly after as well. While the Falcon was a solid if not particularly exciting car, I do hope it managed to find a long term, loving owner to finally give it the attention it deserves.