It’s funny that I consider myself more a GM man than anything because some of my fondest memories have been in Fords. The first car I bought with my own money was my old BA Falcon. It was also the first car I took on a road trip and the first car I did a burnout in. The first donut I did (poorly) was in a Mustang. And the first time I drove a rear-wheel-drive car – and listened to that glorious screech from the rear wheels – was in one of these, an XF Falcon.
(For the record, I’m almost always a responsible driver.)
The XF was the final revision of the 1979-vintage XD shape before Ford introduced the more aerodynamic and modern-looking 1988 EA. The XD had ushered out the 1970s-style coke bottle curves of the XA-XC series and introduced crisp, angular, tailored lines in the same vein as the European Granada and American Fairmont. Underneath, however, looked very much like the 70s Falcons, although the XE and XF revisions improved the Falcon formula. The XE introduced a new coil spring (instead of leaf spring) rear suspension to the sedans and offered the Falcon’s first optional fuel injection. The XF had revised front and rear styling and some minor mechanical refinements, as well as a new, 5-speed manual.
An old friend of mine had an old XF. On a couple of occasions, I drove us out in the XF to a large, empty parking lot so he could practice driving as he didn’t have his licence yet. From memory, his was a base GL with the optional three-speed auto and carbureted 4.1 six, producing 138 hp and 233 ft-lbs. This was about 10 years ago but I still remember how big the XF felt compared to my Holden (Opel) Astra – never mind the fact the XF was only as long as a front-wheel-drive GM A-Body at 188 inches, albeit an inch wider than an ’86 front-wheel-drive GM H-Body at 73.2 inches. By Aussie standards though, these were big and that’s why Ford wrestled the top spot on the sales charts from the more compact, European-style Holden Commodore as fuel prices decreased during the 1980s.
I still remember, too, the sound the rear tires made as I hooked a right at some traffic lights from a stop, as well as the scolding my friend gave me for wearing out his tires. But I wanted the full experience: here I was in a big, rear-wheel-drive Australian sedan and I loved it, loping along highways and hooning around empty parking lots. Funnily enough, that experience with the XF was probably what led to my purchase of a Falcon instead of a front-wheel-drive sedan like the Mitsubishi Magna (Diamante). And now here I am on Falcon #2 and I’ve generally liked them better than the one Commodore I owned. Maybe I am a Ford guy.
Is there a car brand with which you keep crossing paths?
Photographed November 2017 in front of Brisbane City Hall.