posted at the Cohort by pbell56000
The difference between a base Mustang and a high-trim fastback was pretty minimal in its original incarnation (’65-’66). But that gap widened with new iteration. And it was something of a canyon in the ’71-’73 years. Maybe it was because the Mach 1 was so extravagant, and that rather worked with its flatback and endless hood. But the base coupe was kind of sad, and not just because this one is really pathetic. It just didn’t have the spunk that every Mustang once had.
Well, that and maybe we were all just getting tired of the whole thing.
A base Mustang with original (dull) wheelcovers and shackles. Ah, the good old days. Jack the ass end up and you’re stylin’. Never mind the skinny little tires, and the now wheezy 302 V8, if it doesn’t have the 250 six.
Somebody’s dream got ugly along the the way.
I can’t say anything a whole lot nicer about this Falcon either. For some reason, these ’66 – ’69 versions in the four door body really didn’t work for me. I much prefer the ’60 – ’63, which had such a light, airy feel instead of the dull, heaviness of this. Maybe I’m prejudiced because one of my middle-school friends’ parents traded their ’61 Valiant for a ’66 Falcon four door. Yes, it was quieter, smoother and just new, but I missed the airy cabin of the Valiant and the slightly mechanical thrum of its slant six.
1967 was the nadir for Falcon sales; all of 64k found sad and desperate buyers. That’s down from 474k in ’61. The ’66 did a bit better, but was still down from the ’65, despite being new. It was of course the fault of the Mustang; who would want a Falcon when a base Mustang was just a few bucks more? The Falcon cannibalized sales from the big Fords, the Fairlane from both the Falcon and big Fords, and the Mustang from all of them. Ford’s market share in 1967 (21.4%) was well below what it had been in 1961 (23.7%).
I think the Aussies did it a bit better in terms of styling- the weird kickup on the rear fenders in flattened, and the Polara-esque rear taillights suit the overall shape of the car better. The US version looks like a hodge-podge to me, flat here, sounded there; on the subject of Aussie cars, I gotta say too that the facia of this is fairly reminiscent of the old HR Holdens
Had the Falcon had these Polara-esque or Monaco-esque tailights, we could joke then the Falcon is a cousin of the Dodge Dart. 😉
It would be interesting to see how the Falcon would had looked with tailights similar to the “Tri-Six” (1965-67 Ford Custom/Galaxie/LTD/XL) or the 1966-67 Fairlane.
The XR and XT used the exact same body as the US versions. The other thing updated on the XW and XY was slightly tunneling the rear window with buttresses,
Not quite, Matt. We used the Fairlane rear doors and carried that mid-body crease line all the way through to the taillights.
Woah, that blew my mind! Very interesting they’d make a dedicated new stamping for such a subtle detail like that. Throws a wrench in my XT clone fantasy build, drat!
Well, I’ve learned something new! I can’t unsee it now.
I never knew it till this.
I had the Aussie 71 XY model but in the green of the posted car it managed to eat two 250 cube sixes in 13 months the one it came with had a rebuilders plate on the side showing 60 thou overbore and 20 thou under on the crank it put a leg out of bed its $70 replacement from a 72 XA model dropped to 5 lungs and just got too slow and smokey to drive,
“..it put a leg out of bed..” hehe!
Never heard that one till now either. Love it.
That’s the facelifted ‘XW’ version. The preceeding ‘XR and XT models were virtually identical to their US cousins.
1. Right there with you on the base Mustang coupes of 1971-73. And yes, those wheelcovers are awful. There is simply nothing appealing about this car, where both the convertible and the fastback had some sass to them that made them fun.
2. I am a fan of these Falcons, though this is one of the rare occasions where I prefer the later models with the square taillights to the 66-67 with the classic Ford roundies. While these are not as pretty as the 61-63, there is a nice, balanced look to these that has kind of a friendly puppy look about it. It strikes me that this car is what you would get if you took the average of a 67 Mopar A body and a 68 Nova. Someday it would be fun to dive into the dimensional differences between the 66 Falcon and 66 Fairlane.
I will admit that low-end Ford interiors got really dreary by the second half of the 60s, and I know because of the hours spent inside of the stripper early 70 model owned by a high school friend’s parents. I would easily choose a Valiant/Dart over one of these.
I never cared for the post-1965 Falcons. They struck me as much less “organic” than the 1960-65 models, as Ford simply lopped the ends off the restyled 1966 Fairlane to create the Falcon.
That approach may have worked for a desperate Studebaker to create the 1959 Lark, but Ford didn’t have its back against the wall when it created the 1966 Falcon. From that point forward, the Falcon was the least attractive domestic compact, in my opinion – even less attractive than the Rambler American.
And it wasn’t the lack of convertibles or hardtop coupes that made the Falcon less attractive than the competition. Even the four-door sedans are less attractive than the AMC, Chrysler and GM competition.
The 1971-73 Mustangs are proof why some of us didn’t necessarily regard the debut of the 1974 Mustang II as a bad thing. I’ve always thought that the 1971-73 Mustangs were the least attractive years for the Mustang.
Down this way they stretched the Falcon and called it a Fairlane
Oddly enough, JPC, in the land of Oz those wheelcovers denoted the Fairmont in the next gen XA-XB Falcon, the Fairmont being the posher model of the range (which, in the way Oz cars were equipped, meant it had exciting things like a bit of threadbare carpet and possibly even an optional radio on top of the Vinyl Prison spec of the basic Falcon)), so they seem perfectly decent to me.
And, in the way of The Journey of The Wheelcover – again, perhaps just in Oz – the posher wheeltrims move downmarket with each update, so the next XC Falcon, this very trim was fitted to the vastly most-purchased base-type model, meaning they were everywhere. And beside many a dirt road, I mean that literally, but that’s digressing.
Don’t really see the hate for this gen Mustang. Sure it was space inefficient, but so was the Camaro and other pony cars of the era. I like the coupe better than the fastback, which was a bit over the top. The full wheelcovers were so-so, but no worse than Camaro and could easily be upgraded. Base, strippo models of all pony cars at this time were, well, pretty base. All had wheezy little sixes as standard and cheap interiors. Option sheets on these were a mile long and with a few judicious picks a ‘71 Mustang coupe could be a pretty nice ride.
I don’t like to use the term hate when talking about anything or anyone, but I see the general distaste that these Mustangs generate, and for good reason.
Ford, and really all the big 3.5 (AMC included at this point), just didn’t try.
They could have, and should have, made the base product to at least something above Studebaker Scotsman standards, as they now had different models to be the low price leader, rather than one basic body/model that they added things and wheelbase to in order to justify the higher prices, and thus higher margins.
That Pinto came out the same year as this, plus the Falcon was still available, should have made the Mustang never need to offer a stripper version. Cheapening a product made margins thinner, and those who wanted a cheap Mustang should have been steered to a Maverick or Pinto instead, unless they wanted to pony up for a Mustang. I understand wanting to cater to everyone, but from a sales perspective, you steer a customer to make their expectations and budget line up. A pony car was not that much more than a compact, so why strip one down to price it with that compact? That stripped pony car might have looked like a loaded one – if one squinted. The cheap was obvious to anyone who understood. So the buyer was stuck with a cheap version of what they really wanted, so the compromise was still there with little to no benefit. Ford would have done better by making the Mustangs a tad on the loaded side and moved those unwilling to pay the premium down to a Maverick or Pinto. Chevy could have done the same with the Vega against the Camaro, as Pontiac, not having a smaller car, pretty much kept Firebirds well equipped.
The problem with having different models with different price points is that you have to kind of keep those in silos, and not intermingle, if you want to maximize the advantages of paying more for what the customer wants. It kept the aspirational aspect of the emotionally charged purchase of a car in mind. If you couldn’t afford that Mustang this time, you should be able to on the next purchase in a few years. That kept people coming back, and what made Cadillacs as desired as they were. People worked hard to attain one, and understood if they could not afford one now, that was something to aspire to do in the future.
I thought the two-door coupe version of the 2nd Gen Falcon didn’t look too bad; especially in the higher trims. But the 4-doors just threw it all out of proportion.
In the 60’s every non-Sprint Falcon I saw was being driven by a senior citizen (someone my age now)….:-)
The thing about these Mustangs that makes them depressing to me is that the Maverick was actually a more attractive design to my eyes. Somehow the designers managed to sculpt the entry level model into a relatively nice looking knock-off Mustang, while the model that those buyers were supposed to be aspiring to was just a blob with some tired design cues carved into it.
The Maverick should have been the Mustang (and sold as a two-door only) while the Pinto should have been given the Falcon name.
That would have simplified the lineup and let salesmen either steer folks who needed a family car to a stripper Torino with the 240 six or to a loaded Mustang until the kids grew too big for the back seat, which meant a move up to a Torino three years later.
I saw a Maverick with Shelby taillights and hood scoops in Portland. It stayed around the SE Belmont area.
A bit ironic is for the early years of the Maverick in Mexico, it was sold as “Falcon Maverick” just how the Plymouth Duster was sold as “Valiant Duster” in its first year.
Or another idea, they should had kept the Falcon nameplate and use it for the Maverick in both 2 and 4-door versions instead or going a step further, Ford decide to imitate Chrysler who did some upgrades here and there with the Dart/Demon/Valiant/Duster to see the 1966 Falcon body having some upgrades here and there up until the mid-1970s when the Granada arrived. The Falcon Futura could had been a Falcon Futura Brougham to go against the Valiant Brougham.
Interesting to note then in South Africa, the Falcon was renamed Fairmont.
South Africa got Falcons and Fairmont badges from Australia the American Falcon was already dead and buried.
Paul, please tell me that’s not your work truck…. 😉
Imagine if Ford had kept making the 1965 Mustang for half a dozen years while focusing on making mechanical improvements. Instead, they just made the bodies less distinctive, heavier and less practical while hanging them on the same feeble chassis.
Comment got eaten, but in my unpopular opinion, the 65 body aged badly, it was as boxy and conservative as a 65 big Ford in its least memorable aspects and its standout features were in stylish details, sporty interior with its standard buckets and floor shifter and most importantly its long hood/short deck proportions. If that body had to go up against the Camaro and others as designs got rounder and swoopier as the 60s progressed I don’t think it would have maintained marketshare nearly as well, it was still a fashion item for American buyers afterall. I’d say 67 was more distinctively Mustang than any other year, all core traits remained or were embellished and the interior truly looked made for the car, rather than tarted up Falcon like the 65s. 69 was when it veered too far, trying to be too GT40 like in fastback form and forgetting the other bodystyles
The alternate reality of refining the chassis without changing styling, ala European practices really wouldn’t have changed things, it did receive refinements and improvements, all of which mostly coincided with styling updates like adding torque boxes and other reenforcements. The 71s even improved suspension geometry, added the far better Saginaw power steering and used a real trunk floor. The chassis just wasn’t that good to refine it to something substantially better.
I am glad I wasn’t living in America in the sixties. By the time I’d decided I wanted a Mustang, they’d have replaced it!
It’s all just conjecture and opinion, but I remember people keeping those boring ’65 style Mustangs in daily-driver use into the late ’80s. Everything Ford that came after tended to get run into the ground and scrapped as fast as it could be paid off, so I don’t think I’m the only one that thought the original styling was the best thing Ford ever came up with.
Was it the styling or was it build quality?(ala 57 Chevys) Ford’s rust proofing got progressively worse through the latter half of the 60s and through the 70s, plus a quite a few more(almost 40%) were made between 64-1/2 and 66 than 67-67(against virtually no competition)
I think the original styling was great, in the same way I think the first two Beatles albums are great. Best though? Ehh… I’ve never heard anyone complain about the styling changes on the 67s, there’s no bloat added to those unless you checked off the 390 option and everything defining on the original carried right over.
I agree that stylistically, the ’67-’58 was the best. Which is not common, in terms of a follow-up restyle.
Yet if I had to have one, I still think it would be a ’65 fastback, 271 hp, 4 speed, etc… I was at an impressionable age when it came out.
And I’m not really a big fan of the notchback, especially the first one. To much of a clash of trying to look sporty with a T-Bird roof. No comparison with the ’65 Corvair, despite its rear-engine proportions.
Sorry, not an ugly Mustang. Send it my way.
+1 – these aren’t my absolute favorite, but not ugly at all.
About Ugly Houses, look up the value of your house on Zillow, divide in half. That is what they will offer. If they bother to come out, expect less. Now back to the Mustangs.
I see a cheap basis for modification in both cases. There is a huge aftermarket for the Falcon/Mustang and with a little bit of imagination the options are endless.
And the Falcon could be made into an Aussie XR Bathurst racer replica.
My thoughts exactly. I’d make it look like a XT GT
If this guy buys ugly Mustangs, I think we know who is in the Mach-E market!
But I mostly agree about the coupes. I think the buttresses were the biggest mistake, making the pillars look massive, and adding a massive expanse of flat sheetmetal was the last thing the rest of the body needed. Fastbacks aren’t the only way to go with this generation however, I’m not a convertible guy but it’s actually more attractive to me in that form than the 69-70s, and top up has a significantly better profile than the actual coupe.
I actually think the 4-door works better on this Falcon bodystyle, but I also have a fetish for the Australian Falcons and these are the only ones stateside you could pull off a GT clone from. But the doors morph the proportions, it looks longer than the coupe does, and the stubbiness of the coupe is the biggest peeve I have with it
Damn, that’s a nice Mustang! I think you’re right about the convertible.
A zoom-in will reveal Burt Reynolds behind the wheel-This is a screen cap from the 1975 film Hustle. The convertible is most palatable design & pleasing profile for me because it lacks either the flat-back of the SportsRoof of the awful buttresses of the coupe. If I was in the market back in the day, I’d have been inclined to choose this and leave the top up.
Agree with this, Matt, but I’ll see you and raise you one: I really like the Cougar convertibles of this generation even more.
Yep, I agree. But I will say the extra length of the Cougar helps the proportions with the buttresses a little better, those don’t really have that stubby effect William described.
Sometimes it’s hard to look past the current state of decay and disrepair. Just like the classic fixer “upper house.” With the overgrown yard, faded paint, sagging fences, trash piled up around, and junk cars parked on what was once a lawn. You’ve got to look for the “good bones.” These Mustangs have big bones, even though they really aren’t any bigger than the Camaro or Firebird of the times. Of course they are compared to the previous model Mustangs which are well remembered. This particular example except for the very rusty decklid, looks to be straight and complete.
These cars are sensitive to their stance, the long shackles are often to compensate for sagging rear springs. I worked for Grand Auto in the mid 1970s and we sold a lot of aftermarket mag type wheels. It seems all that was important at the time was the lug circle. There wasn’t a choice of offsets, and the wheels, especially with wider tires, would foul the wheel arch openings. No problem that a set of longer shackles or air shocks wouldn’t fix!
It seems these Mustangs are always sitting too high in the back and that awful Mach One wing is tacked onto the rear of these coupes. I like the buttresses but the roof is also quite high at the back. At least you can actually see out the back window! I see a lot of potential in these and would like to try my hand with one. I found this picture of one that has been lowered with larger wheels and most important, no wing on the back. Looks a lot like an Aston Martin V8, well close enough for me at least.
Exactly. And like I noted earlier, those can still be picked up for peanuts.
As I recall there was no “real” Falcon wagon after 65, rather, Falcon wagons were Fairlanes with Falcon front sheet metal. I wonder why the Big 3 dumped compact wagons in the mid-60s? Slow sales?
Australia calling – here’s your real Falcon wagon. 🙂
Something about the ’71-73 notchbacks has always just seemed a bit off to me and I think I’ve finally figured it out: it’s the buttress effect at the rear. It makes the rear end look stubbier, I think.
I still like the ’71-73 though, and I think that’s in large part because earlier Mustangs are so bloody common here in Australia but ’71-73 models are comparatively rare. Also they look so… 70s. And that doesn’t bother me one bit!
My problem is they’re just too big and styled to look even bigger. Like a ’71 Riviera. Or a ’71 just-about-anything (Firebird and Camaro excepted). Must have been something in the water in America in those days…..
If they were the same size as the original, I think I could like them. The style isn’t too bad. It’s all the needless bulk that kills it for me. They could lose about eight inches of front overhang for starters.
Two 50-or-so year old Fords and a 2000s-era Saturn L-series wagon. Hmm. To me, the Saturn is the most depressing of these three vehicles – discarded and forgotten at a third of the age of the Fords.
Didn’t Mary Tyler Moore drive one of these?
I think she got a new one every season
I haven’t seen the show in a long time but I only remember her having a white 70 convertible and a blue 73 convertible
64 or 65 Falcon for me, all others to frumpy, especially the 66 and later, don’t know what the hell they were thinking. Apparently they grabbed the set of plans that were supposed to be burned. Same deal with the 71-73 Mustang Coupe, only thing worse was the hideous 71-73 Cougar. Give me the 71 Mustang fastback, drop the front end and you have a funny car for the street. Only car I liked with the buttress C pillar, 68-69 Charger.
The 71-73 Cougar was actually a very handsome design. If you want an ugly Cougar look at the 80-82 models that never should’ve been.
That era Mustang was just crap. I got to live with a Grande version of one of those and it was a sloppy handling uncomfortable turd. It had a 351W and automatic, not a real barn burner. It wasn’t real serviceable in the narrowish engine bay especially with all of the Grande crap on it. Vinyl roof. Seatbacks that were fixed at a hard 90 degree angle and were very low to the floor. Horridly uncomfortable to drive or ride in. Overall not a very well thought out car.
There’s a ’72 in rough shape in my subdivision. The owner has a driveway full of rattlecanned black cars and trucks in various states of disrepair, including a 70s Dodge stepside, a 328i without a front end, and a fox body ‘stang from the mid ’80s.
The ’72 looks pretty crusty with lots of rust bubbles and a (primarily) white paint job that looks like it might have been done with a roller. There are a number of areas with pink Bondo that has just been slathered on over rust areas and the owner hasn’t bothered to attempt to san them down. This ‘Stang has an automatic tranny, and that makes it even more of a sad affair. It moves just enough for him to avoid the city getting after him; every two weeks, it moves from one side of the street to the other.
I’m with Erik in that this was just a sad car to begin with. I have little sympathy either for the PintoStang, but then, few do, which is why they are all gone. This era at least has some looks, even if it didn’t back it up with performance and did get progressively bloated.
That Falcon’s the same colour as the one Dad used to have, but his was rustier. Living near the sea and never garaging it will do that to a car, even in Australia.
Mine was 20 or so years old when I got it, had only ever lived in the outer burbs far from the madding waves, and indeed, it looked nicely rust-free (if a bit thin in the lustre), yet I soon discovered that the battery hung above a space where the tray had once been and that it was almost possible to adjust the radio whilst working under the car, such were the bits of floor no longer with us.
The 71-73 Mustangs are still way overlooked. I’ve owned several Mustangs over the years. I had a ’65 coupe, a ’68 GT fastback, a ’70 Mach 1, a ’71 Boss 351 and a ’73 Q code convertible. The ’71 Boss and ’73 convertible were by far my favorites. They were comfortable cars to drive and they rode and drove much better than the 60’s Mustangs. My ’71 was next to impossible to see out the rear window, but I loved its looks. People like to say how big these cars are. They’re not a whole lot longer than a 69-70 model Mustang. The longer hoodline, lower roofline and wider stance gives the illusion of a bigger car. If I could have any of my old Mustangs back I’d take the ’71 Boss and the ’73 convertible back, no question.
A most peculiar business when one is looking up from down under, as these cars were so common years ago that even I had one, and they were always liked for their style (and reputedly sent GM Holden rushing back to the drawing board for an equally lithe competitor). I assume it’s that familiarity which has bred my contempt for the contempt displayed here by those from the land of its birth, for there it was not the Mustang-bred major competitor for the Holy Holden (and which, by gum, could be had with, whisper it, a huge 289 V8), but rather a tedious shopping device for the elderly or impecunious or cheap, and a stodgy replacement for the breezier-looking previous gen.
Ofcourse, the previous gen had proved to be tediously breezy here, in the sense it had a name as a foldable weakling, so the chunkier newbie helped remove that stigma. Personally, I think it’s a good-looker still.
Mind, mine looked very similar to this one, only twas in GT gold (or the flaking remnants thereof) and had more chromey trim, though the old bastard who’d had it from new had ordered no other option than the larger six (200ci), no heater, no belts, no syncro, and no bloody brakes of any meaning, so I can’t pretend my memories of the thing are actually fond (and it had floorboard-based aircon by my ownership), but I genuinely did like it FOR its looks.
And you who disagree above need to look at the thing upside-down, as perhaps that makes all the diffwrence.