(first posted 4/15/2012) Of the three US compacts introduced for the 1960 model year, the utterly conventional Falcon was the most successful, so much so that Chevrolet and Chrysler would quickly modify their offerings to match it. The flamboyant Valiant sported a much more conservative suit in its 1963 redesign, and the 1962 Chevy II would become the division’s bread-and-butter offering as the Corvair was first moved upmarket, then put out to pasture.
While the Valiant had the best handling and performance thanks to its Slant Six and torsion bar suspension, its Exner-approved styling was polarizing to say the least. The rear-engined Corvair, while backed by thousands of friendly Chevrolet dealers and the might of General Motors, had a very unusual powertrain design, and some folks just weren’t sure what to make of it. Ford played it safe. They basically made a 3/4 scale full size Ford, with inline six power (up front, of course), rear wheel drive and modern, if somewhat vanilla, styling. It was a hit, even with only two- and four-door sedans initially available. Within three years the Falcon would have a full line of vehicles, with station wagons, two-door hardtops and even a convertible. There was even a Falcon-badged version of the Econoline forward-control van.
The Falcon received only minor changes through 1963, but a new Futura model that debuted in 1962 was a mini-Thunderbird of sorts, with extra chrome trim, full wheel covers and bucket seats with a mini-console.
In 1964 all Falcons received attractive new sheet metal with a forward-leaning front end, thicker Thunderbird-like C-pillars and a rocket-shaped stamping along the bodysides, which were outlined in chrome on Futuras. The trademark Ford tail lights remained, but the rear deck traded its gentle contours for a more squared-off affair.
Despite the updated styling, it was still largely the same old Falcon underneath. The Futura, a single model in 1962, was now a full lineup and boasted sedans, coupes, wagons and a convertible. The basic Falcon was still available for those seeking basic transportation, though.
The standard Falcon was a cheapskate’s dream. As basic as can be, they featured chrome windshield and backlight moldings, hub caps, dual horns and sun visors, armrests on the front doors only, and a horn button in lieu of the Futura’s chrome horn ring. These plain-Jane Falcons came in two- and four-door sedans only, listing at $2040 for the four-door and $1985 for the two-door.
Standard engine for the Falcon was a 144 CID straight six with 85 hp @ 4200 rpm and a single barrel Holley carburetor, though you could get the 170 six or 260 V8 if you desired a less leisurely pace.
The sky blue Falcon I found last week sports a few options to spiff it up a bit, including a chrome side molding, whitewalls and a pair of fuzzy dice on the mirror. It was in excellent shape, and the antique vehicle plates suggest a loving owner. While it’s not flashy, I really like the clean lines. I’d guess that the owner loves the simple mechanicals and reliability. $2040 got you quite the reliable machine in 1964, so long as the rust stayed away.
Going in the opposite direction, the flossy $2611 Squire wagon was just about the most expensive Falcon you could get, with the exception of the Futura Sprint convertible, which ran an extra $49. There really was a Falcon for just about any taste in 1964, but the 1965 Mustang would change all that.