Cohort Capsule: 1963½ Ford Falcon Futura Sports Coupe – Not Quite a Sprint, But What Ever Happened To The Six Cylinder Sprint?

(first posted 11/2/2017)        This fine 1963 Falcon Sports Coupe was posted at the Cohort by mtwilda, and it caught my attention. It’s the non-Sprint version of the new semi-fastback hardtop coupe roof style that appeared in January 1963 as a mid-year introduction, along with the Sprint version. The Sprint has become more than a bit legendary, due to being the first of the Big Three compacts to offer a V8 and a beefed-up chassis to accommodate it. But it appears that the Sprint was initially planned to be strictly a six cylinder car. What caused the last minute change?

I hate to hijack the thread away from the Futura Sport Coupe, but when I checked out the Sprint in the Falcon brochures, I came in for a surprise: It was initially planned (and shown in the brochures) as strictly a six cylinder car. This is from a brochure revision dated 12-62.

The Sprint six is even featured on the cover of this brochure.

The Sprint is shown as coming standard with the “zest of the 170 Special Six” teamed up with a standard four speed floor shift transmission. That would be the same UK-Ford unit that had been available on the Falcon since 1962. This same power team was of course also available on the other Falcons, including the featured Futura Sports Coupe. Since there’s no interior shot, we don’t know what transmission it does have.

But the Sprint was also graced with a 6000 rpm tachometer mounted on the dash, as well as a faux-wood sports steering wheel. Oh, and a standard 4.00:1 rear axle ration, to perk things up some, given the 170 Special Six’s 101 gross hp. That must have kept it fairly busy at highway speeds. An interesting concept, but undoubtedly not ready to take on the Corvair Monza Spyder, with its 150hp turbocharged six, or the Valiant, which now had the 145hp 225 slant six as optional.

It appears that Ford decided to pull the plug on the six-cylinder Sprint at the last minute, as there’s no indication that any six-cylinder Sprints were ever built, at least not readily available information.

Instead what came out was something quite different, at least under the skin. The 164hp 2V 260 V8 was standard, and the brakes and suspension were upgraded, including 5-lug hubs and 14″ wheels and tires. essentially, the Sprint previewed the drive train and chassis of the 1965 Mustang V8, which would appear about one year later.

The Sprint arrived along with the new semi-fastback roof for the big Galaxie/XL, and a four-speed version of the Fairlane V8 coupe.

But the standard 4-speed was gone. A B/W T-10 four speed was optional, along with the Fordomatic, and a three-speed manual on the column was now standard.

A bit of further mystery: In the 12-62 brochure, there were two non-Sprint Falcon Coupes coupes with this new roof. The Futura hardtop came with a bench seat, and the Futura Sports Coupe had the same buckets and console as the Sprint.

This Futura coupe obviously has the bucket seats, and a later brochure shows just this version, so who knows. let’s just say manufacturers sometimes made last minute changes, and perhaps those 12-62 brochures showing the six-cylinder Sprint mostly ended up in the dumpster.

So this little Futura Coupe has taken me for a longer ride than I initially expected, right down a rabbit hole. So much for what I had planned to do this morning. But surely we find it more important to know that a six-cylinder Sprint was planned, even if never built, than building a little cottage that was planned but not yet built (actually, it’s making progress).