(first posted 7/30/2015) Afternoons spent wandering the Melbourne streets are never wasted; I’m always sure of finding at least one curbside classic. Over the past few years I’ve managed to catch this bevy of Australian Falcon wagons – enough to bring you three end-of-generation models and a fresh beginning.
From day one, our Falcon wagons were different to the US model. I’ve heard of two reasons for this; some Australian terrain conditions didn’t allow for the longer rear overhang of the US wagon (note the comparative ramp angles in red pencil on the wagon); and the one I think was the primary reason – pure economics. The entire 1961 XK Falcon range was rationalised from the b-pillar forward, with no coupe or two-door sedan that required longer doors. All models in the original lineup shared a wheelbase of 109.5″ and the same overall length.
By the time of the end-of-gen 1965 XP, quite a bit had been changed from the XK. The front clip appears to have borrowed its sheet metal from the 1963 Comet, with different chrome application. It gave the car a squarer overall look but compared with the razor-edged US 1964/65 Falcon, the XP still has a roundness to it.
The taillights had been raised flush with the top of the fender on the 1964 XM model. Once we had finished with the T-bird roof version of the original Falcon (our XL), we based our subsequent 2 updates on a revised and toughened version of the original platform. The greenhouse on the wagon remained pretty much unchanged with its distinctive curved side-glass.
This being a Falcon Deluxe model, it was a step above the base Falcon and sat below the new-for-XP Fairmont in the ‘luxury’ stakes.
This wagon is running a Pursuit 170 engine, the middle tier option above the wheezy 144 and the topper Super Pursuit 200 – all straight sixes. The 170 gave us 111 bhp (or 83 kW).
Of all the first gen models, this one is probably your best buy. The XK Falcon was a bit of a disaster with front-end durability issues, but they had been effectively eliminated by the time this model arrived. To change the negative perceptions within the Australian market, Ford conducted a 70,000 mile endurance test at the company’s You Yangs circuit with five examples of these model.
The next generation of Australian Falcons began with the September 1966-launched XR Falcon. It was pretty much the same car as the US 66 Falcon. As with the previous generation we produced our own wagons, utes and panelvans on the same 111″ wheelbase as the sedan with the same 184.6″ length. The US, however, placed their 66 Falcon wagon on a longer wheelbase with an overall length (sources state 113″ or 115″ – commentariat?).
The XR and subesequent 1968 XT used the same body panels, but the 1969 XW used revised sheet metal over the 66 set-up. The body for the 1970 XY, as seen above, was the same as the XW with minor trim variations.
Whereas the XW and XY sedans got a revised roofline, the wagons kept an unchanged XR greenhouse over the newer chunky lower panels. The tell on the XY is its divided grille; the XW had a one-piece number ringed with trim.
This one’s a Falcon 500, one step up from base. The badge on the front quarter tells us this is motorvated by the 250 I6. While the US 66 wagon dispensed with the traditional round taillights, it wasn’t until the 1970 XW that we took the same brave step.
By the time the XY Falcon had ended its run in March 1972, Ford US had already downgraded its compact platform to Maverick status (a short-lived intermediate-sized Falcon stripper notwithstanding). The squareness coming out of the early-mid 60s on US cars had exhausted itself, and been overtaken by curves.
The XY was replaced with the XA. It was a fantastic effort from the Australian styling team. Despite it being an indigenous shape, it borrowed heavily from the design language of its US parent. Having said that, it was a much cleaner shape than the concurrent Gran Torino and Galaxie/LTD.
By the time of the 1976 XC, curves were on their way out. The front clip was given a cleaner, squarer treatment and a revised beltline on the rear doors which, downplayed the previous models’ coke-bottle.
Lovely brown metallic job; patinated and, like our XY, just right for parking outside. The rear end was pretty much untouched from the XA. Taillights differed only in framing, and all the good things about the original shape are evident here. The bulged rear gives this a purposeful demeanour, after all you need the most heft where the load is.
Finally, we got a Falcon wagon longer than the sedan. The XA-XC wagons shared the same 116″ wheelbase as the Fairlane. Using the same rears passenger doors as the sedan, you can see the gap to the rear wheel arch where the length was ‘added’.
Another step-above-base model, the Falcon 500 gave us the simplest of faces. Sporty variants copped another set of slightly smaller roundies, and the Fairmont scored enormous rectangular headlights.
Music-loving stickers on the rear window makes me suspect this might be used for weekend-long gigs. You could carry a couch on that roof rack. And sleep in the rear.
In 1979, Ford introduced the XD range. Whereas in the past Falcon styling was derived from or heavily dependent upon the US models, the XD was based on the Ford Granada out of the UK.
The clean rectilinear lines were starting to make their way around the world when the first XD clays appeared in 1975. With the launch of the much smaller Holden Commodore competitor in 1978, there was a hasty resizing of certain Falcon dimensions although the shape appears almost the same as the clay.
My favourite shot from this selection. The profile of the XD wagon is mesmerising; minimal front overhang, full volumes at the rear and great proportioning makes this longroof look as if its moving forward even when standing still.
I’d take an XA wagon in a heartbeat, but of the examples presented today I’d take this one first. The boxy shape is very well accentuated by that almost acidic yellow. All I’d do is lose the pinstripe.
When I see the US Falcon wagons, I think they look too long at the rear. Americans would see these and think they’re too short. Mama’s Pasta Effect.