The Futura has been getting some love at CC lately and here is a chance to give it a South American take, or Colombian as is the case. I was pleased to find out Colombians put some attention to their vehicular history, at least on the internet. And from what I read, the Futura was an upper class good in Colombia.
The V-8 Futura was the lone Falcon version sold in Colombia for 1966, taking to heart of it being a good “Mustang substitute.” Below it, the 6 cyl. Fairlane and the Custom, and on the upper end, the LTD and Galaxie (Mustangs were but just a trickle). At the time, Colombian legislators enacted draconian tariffs on car imports in the interest of attracting (force?) foreign industry to assemble locally. For ’66, already high levies were raised to a whopping 150% for commercial vehicles, while privates went to a heart-attack-inducing 300%. On top of both, a 15% sales tax. The policy paid off, as Renault moved locally in ’69. Chrysler, the ever-hoping-big-never-quite-happening operator had seen the writing in the wall and started local assembly in ’65. Dodge Coronet’s were some of Colombia’s most popular vehicles by avoiding the legislated upmark (as per usual, the law indicated local manufacturers had to provide a percentage of materials and supplies).
With that in mind, Ford Colombia positioned the Futura as a luxury-sporty item. From the available info, I can’t quite tell how early in ’66 the tariffs took effect, but it remained policy for a few years. I’m still wrapping my head around the idea of paying Jaguar E-Type money for a supped up Falcon, but then again, the Ford was far more reliable. Still, one could see why Futuras of the time are priced possessions in Colombia to this day. Someone definitely prices this sample as is undergoing some restoration work and mods.
In the 60’s, half of vehicle imports into Colombia were American. Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile and Ford took small dibs on that reduced market, as all of 18K vehicles were sold in 1967. I could assume Chrysler sold better, considering the local assembly. Meanwhile the remaining 50% was comprised of various European brands, amongst Renault, Opel and VW. Thanks to tariffs, small fortunes changed hands on each purchase. Not surprisingly, the used car market thrived.
Talking about fortunes, this particular Futura was found a block away from Colombia’s Gold Museum. A large collection of over 30,000 gold items is at display, a -literally- dazzling experience. Somehow, natives managed to keep these goods away from the Spanish Conquistadors, who never hesitated insisting that riches were being hidden by the ‘devious’ locals. The search for El Dorado is legendary. Then again, maybe even the natives didn’t know of of these goods, as most were discovered in sacred burials as offerings.
The visit to the Gold Museum is breathtaking, as gold is never seen in such amounts anywhere. Under the primitive foundry of the aborigenes, gold has a raw quality I find rather appealing. One could see why Spaniards were so keen on the metal, as it tickles the primal region of the human brain in a pleasant way (Look! It shines!), regardless of it having little use beyond decoration.
On our visit, we found much maligned Bogota (damn you Miami Vice!) a rather modern and surprising city. Citizens are very formal and cordial, the streets and city layout more organized and efficient than its neighboring countries. There are parks, pedestrian pathways, cycle lanes, and a rich cultural life. Now, regarding crime, while we didn’t encounter any, it’s true one has to keep on the move. To stay wandering, even briefly, is an invitation to attract suspect panhandlers who are everywhere and quick to approach. To keep in motion is essential.
Here’s one last bit of peculiar trivia on Bogota. During a good part of the 20th century the local upper class had a fascination with British culture. A few residential areas close to downtown are comprised of blocks of British-looking houses. Not quite Downton Abbey, but still ostentatious enough to immagine a lowly Count residing with a few servants.
Back in ’66, this Futura’s home was probably one of these Brit inspired houses. Hard to see those two ideas match in my head, but considering that it was priced as high a Daimler, such transgressions start to make sense.
More on the Futura and Falcon: