(first posted 1/16/2014) There a number of living fossils in the automotive world, some of which have had even longer lifespans than the Argentine Ford Falcon, which was built for thirty years (1962 to 1991). But there’s something about seeing a 1963 Falcon dressed up in late 1980’s regalia that evokes the thought what did someone slip into my drink?
CC Cohort SoCalMetro posted a number of vehicles shot during a recent trip to Argentina, and we admired the crude Ford “Suburban” a while back. Today we’ll peruse his collection of Falcons (along with some others from the web), review the key evolutionary steps of their long life, and even ask a few questions that I can’t find ready answers to. That alone may be a first here, and only adds to the mystique of the Argentine Falcon.
The first Argentine Falcons were assembled in 1962 at Ford’s plant in LaBoca, from complete knockdown kits (eventually they were locally manufactured). Only the four door in Standard and Deluxe trim were offered, with the 170 CID six under the hood. In 1963, the top-trim Futura was added to the line up, as well as a new, larger 187 CID (3,081 cc) version of the six.
This Falcon engine unique to Argentina raises the first question that I couldn’t find an answer to on the web, a rare occurrence: how exactly was this displacement increase achieved? The 200 CID engine’s larger bore or longer stroke? I’m going to guess it was the stroke. This wasn’t the only unique version of the Falcon six created in Argentina; we’ll get to the other a bit later.
Argentinean Falcons received regular minor exterior changes, mainly to the grille, almost every year or so during the sixties. It would be a herculean task to identify, find and document them all, so we’ll leave that for a more ambitious undertaking. This shot is from Wikipedia, and shows the quad headlight grille from the 1970 restyle. It’s my favorite of the bunch.
In 1966, a station wagon, the Rural (red, at top), was added to the four-door sedan. This was locally developed, and had distinct differences from the US version (bottom), and was also different from the Australian wagon (middle). The Wonderful World of Falcon Wagons.
This red Rural is a 1970 model, and is for sale, priced at 22,000 Argentine Pesos, equal to $3,280 US. Want to own the only one in the US?
Since the red Rural ad didn’t show its distinctive rear end treatment, here’s another one, not so modest. Both the Argentine and Australian Falcon wagons had shorter rear bodies, with less overhang to reduce the chance of getting hung up on the rough rural roads.
I’m not going to even try to identify the years of these various Falcons shot on the streets by SoCalMetro, in part because they’ve also been modified by their owners, as with the hidden rear door handles on this veteran.
This is a 3.0 L from the early eighties or so. But back in 1969, a 3.6 L (221 CID) version of the six also appeared, and again, I don’t know how exactly this extra displacement was found. I’m going to assume more stroke again (in addition to the bigger bore shared with the 200), as none of the Falcon sixes have a bigger bore than the 3.68 inches that the 200 and 250 had. But the 250 also had a higher deck, so presumably the smaller additional stroke increase fit inside the 200’s block.
Initially, the 221 six had 132 hp, but by 1973, power was up to 166 hp. These engines also had a better breathing cylinder head, and a four speed transmission with floor shift, which was also available on the lesser Falcons. These high-output Falcons were called Sprint, as they had been in the US during a few brief years (1963.5-1965). This red one is from the 1973-1975 era.
Here’s a look at the 3.6 SP engine, thanks to todofalcon.com.ar, which is the go-to site on these, if you read Spanish, but the pictures alone are worth it. The different cylinder head clearly doesn’t have the integral log-type intake manifold of the US Falcon sixes.
As best as I can tell, the badge on the back of this one indicates it’s a 3.6. The rear end styling on it places it at the later end of the Falcon’s long life, which started with the last major restyle of 1982. Starting that year, a 2.3 L four, a version of the SOHC “Pinto engine,” was also available (with 90 hp), but not all that popular, as most continued to prefer the smooth and well-proven six. Falcons were popular as taxis, police cars, and more nefariously, as the preferred cars of Argentine paramilitary forces/death squads of the 1970s, wearing a distinctive shade of dark green. One is not likely to see any dark green Falcons anymore, given the brutal connotation.
A diesel engine, the 70 hp Italian four cylinder VM HR492 was also available after 1988, but was quite rare and installed mostly on the Ranchero pickup, like this one. How would you like to have been able to buy one new in 1991?
The 1982 restyle also ushered in the Ghia model as the top line version, replacing the Futura. The distinctive Ford alloy wheels, also used in the US and Europe, were used on these cars too (as seen on the Ranchero above).
The best year for Falcon sales was 1973, when just over 35k were sold. Sales fluctuated after that along with the Argentine economy, and sales topped 34k in 1980. But after that, with more modern cars increasingly available on the market, sales began a slide, and only a few thousand were sold in the last years. But there are still plenty on the roads, and undoubtedly will be for a long time to come. And it’s not just hipsters driving them.