In my never ending quest to own every antique car ever built, I have only ever put cash in my pocket to seriously look at one or two Falcons, including a really decent red 1964 convertible which I would have probably driven home had I been more well-off at the time. There is, however, something heartwarming about a pre-’64 Falcon, isn’t there? It’s not traditionally beautiful by any means, but like an early Jeep, the Falcon’s practicality and honesty transcend any aesthetic norms one might impose upon it. For four model years, the Falcon remained rather stylistically static, with new grilles and trim being the hallmarks of a new fall selling season each year (with a notable exception being the ’63 Sprint). Which model wears it best?
Some say that the first edition of anything is the purest, so is the 1960 model the best early Falcon? Its concave grille and minimal trim evince a sense of basic, utilitarian transportation (I apologize for the rope bisecting the picture – you take them where you find them).
The 1961 model didn’t stray from the Falcon’s wildly popular roots. Designers decided to “pop the dent” out of the Falcon’s grille and push it in the other direction, but other changes are minor. By the way, kudos to Ford for capitalizing on the wild popularity of Peanuts to sell some Falcons.
My personal favorite for reasons unknown to me is the 1962 model. The new vertical grille motif hits the right marks for no textbook reason that I can cite. With that being said, isn’t the sedan delivery in my opening picture a cool car?
It’s worth another look. When have you seen another?
Finally, the 1963 model may have more inherent panache due to its connection with the Monte Carlo Rally and the attractive Sprint hardtop. This convertible looks pretty good in red, too, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many readers agree.
If I had my way, I’d take a ’65 Falcon (naturally, considering my screen name), but I’d have no problem trying to find storage for an early Falcon if things turned out that way. Which one do you like best?
Best is the 1961. Least favorite is the 1962.
My favorite has always been the 1962, followed by 1961, 1963 and at the bottom 1960.
I like the `60 best. Not for the anemic powertrain, but the simple design like the author stated. Someone back in Chicago restored a white 2dr. wagon that came out beautifully; probably the best current example of one I can think of.
Yes – a ‘60 for me too, please. I think it looks more expensive and I like the position of the indicators. I think light / bright colors suit it, too.
Having owned a ‘65 Ranchero (V8/4-speed), I’m partial to that model year. For the first-Gen models, I’d have to pick the ‘63 1/2- a Sprint 260 hardtop, please…
Anyone who has read any of my posts will not be surprised that the 62 front end is the most appealing to me. Definitely NOT a fan of Falcons this design gives the most upscale look.
Before today, I had never noticed how the hood/fender design differed from the 60-61 to the 62-63, with the earlier car having a bit of an eyebrow over the grille/headlights and the later cars losing that feature.
On looking at these pictures, I have decided that the 62 and 63 look too much like Dodge designs (only with smaller trim around the headlights). I am going to pick the 61 as the best overall, and the 63 as the runner-up.
Just saw your comment after posting mine. Similar note on the “eyebrow”!
I’ve always that felt that the more “peeled back” look of the ’62 front end was a big improvement over the ’60 and ’61. The earlier models to me feel sort of like they have a big droopy eyelid over the headlights and grille, which makes for kind of a sad “face”. Of the latter two years, I think the ’63 gets it just right—the ’62 to me is a bit too electric shaver-ish. The simpler bumper on the ’62/’63 is a plus, too.
I’ve not been a big Falcon fan, so having never contemplated this question my uninformed vote will be for the 62. I like the chrome version on the lead photo much more than the painted base grille. And I agree that sedan delivery is really cool. I think I would prefer a 2 door wagon to drive, just for the sake of visibility.
I also kind of like the fake hood air intake on the 62-63, even if it is maybe overwrought for an economy car. 63 would be in second place, because the vertical 62 is cleaner and simpler and more befitting this basic car. 61 is 3rd, 60 is 4th. The inset grille in 60/61 is smaller and looks kind of shy and reticent. Of the two, I prefer the convex 61 over the concave 60.
Can we add the Argentinian Falcon to the mix? 🙂 So many faces to choose from…
My thoughts exactly – I spent a month there in 1992, just a year after production finally ended. Here’s one of the last models:
We could also add the Aussie Falcon from Down Under as well. 😉
Bruce, the one you are showing is up to ’72. I’ll add a 73-to-77 (probably the pic is from a 76-77), which is the model that was common when I was growing up. This is a 221SP Futura, with a 221 CID (3.6 liter) engine and something like 160 hp available. I remember the decals “High compression engine – use only special fuel”. It was quite an expensive car for Latin America.
My favorite is the 1961. My sister had a 1961 blue 2 door sedan. She drove it for years. She had an accident that messed up the front end. My dad beat out the hood and grille. We went in my dad’s 1960 Pontiac Bonneville to a junk yard about 50 miles away to get a bumper for the Falcon. I think I remember it being $15. It fit fine in his trunk.
1961. It’s what the ’60 should have been. The ’60 looks sad and depressed; not so the ’61.
The ’62 and ’63 is ok, but like most face lifts, it doesn’t really improve on the original.
Not a fan of the ’64 & ’65. It looks like it’s wearing a cardboard box.
Thank you for this Aaron. At the risk of having my CC privileges taken away, I’ll admit I’ve never been able to tell the years of the Falcons apart… until now, thanks to you for putting them all in one place. While I know my Impalas, I had never learned these.
Now that I see them all: The 1961 is for me, hands down. If it came in a Futura 2-door hardtop version back in those early days, that’s the one I’d want. I love that electric shaver grill.
Of course, this led me down the Google rabbit hole to look at all the other years. I’m definitely not feeling the second generation in any year, and as to the ’70-1/2…. Um, I like Torinos and all, but that “Falcon” if you want to call it that (and Ford did according to an article that I read here on CC), just looks like a stripper Torino to me.
And as far as Torinos go, Vince C knows how I feel about them! Go Gran (and ’72) or go home. 😉
62>60>61 I actually like the concave grille of the 60, I think it goes with the body lines better where the 61 looks like a forced tweener update, and in general I prefer concave to convex every time, like the rear end of the C4 Corvette vs the C5. The 62-63 is simply the more handsome design I think, it doesn’t look like a bargain basement economy car as much as it does just a small big Ford with its own look, the Tbird style dummy hood scoop is a nice touch as well. No preference for the 62 or 63 really, I like the 63 hardtop roofline, but not so much the Comet roofline on the sedans, grille design is a toss up, despite the switch from vertical to horizontal never thought of them being much different
I don’t know if the hood bump is there for practical or aesthetic reasons, but I don’t care for it. The lack of trim on the bump for 60-61 de-emphasizes it, at least. Since I don’t care for the concave grille, I guess I’m forced to choose the ’61. If I have to choose a Falcon at all, that is, because I don’t generally care for them.
Regardless of that, the lede photo just pulled me into this post. I don’t care who built it or what condition it’s in, I love all sedan deliveries. I’d even take a Vega or Pinto. But my dreams are of a ’59 Chevy. Nonetheless, I’d own this Falcon in a heartbeat.
I went back to see if I had any extra pictures of it, Evan, but I don’t. The one I posted is from 2009!
The hood scoop and indentation on the side panels increase panel stiffness. The lack of panel stiffness had been a problem with the 1957 Ford, which is why the hood scoop, roof grooves and trunk lid indentation were added to the facelifted 1958 Ford.
I probably like the first year best. It is a little plain so if I can fudge the rules a bit then my favorite is the Canadian Frontenac variant.
+1 on the ’62. One of my grandfathers had a ’60 Falcon, the other a ’61 Ranchero (between them my vote went with the ’61’s “electric shaver” grille).
One day the latter was replaced in the driveway with a ’62 Ranchero (evidently a loaner from the dealer), same plain white, but I thought it looked so great at the time I have never forgotten it. Never saw it again, but my opinion was sealed then. I wasn’t even in school yet, smh. After that the ’63 didn’t have a chance.
I know it’s not eligible for the poll, but I’d love to be cruising the streets with a 1960 Frontenac front end:
Eventful is perhaps not the adjective I’d use to describe a car I want to sell, but maybe there’s a Canadian twist on the word I’m missing. 🙂 Either way, I like the Frontenac grille.
I vote for the ’62. The faux hood scoop was a nod to the T Bird. The ’63 stand up fender badges are a bit too much. The mileage reported in the video is impressive. I guess that the 140 six is just more miserly than the 250 six that was in my ’70 Mustang. It only got 15 mpg, even with my feather foot. I have a Popular Mechanics owner’s report on the ’70 Mustang which agrees with my results. “The power of a six, with the economy of an eight!” It actually had adequate power, I believe that the 200 six was a better compromise. An early Falcon with a six and three speed would be an attractive hobby car.
My father had a 62 Falcon wagon, but I like the 63 a little better. I love all Falcons, except the 64 and 65, and wish I had been car driving age in the 1960’s and could have purchased a 1960 through 1963 and then a 1966 through 1970 1/2 when they were new.
Being at an impressionable age in 1962, I remember being struck by the similar motif of the ‘high-level, horizontal bend line’ in the grille / front face of the Falcon and the full-sized Chevrolet. That particular profile has always said ‘1962’ to me.
I think I prefer the grille on the 1961 Falcon – adding a little crispness to an otherwise roly-poly form – but wasn’t a fan of the chrome outlining added to the sides.
1962 – definately.
I had a 1963, and it was also good, but the 1962 was the best.
The original looked like some kind of a design by “Big Eyes” Margaret Keane. Which, by the way, was huge in the late 1950s – 1960s.
! I hope I never meet that one on a dark street, I’d prolly wet my pants .
When new I thought Falcons looked cheap but now I rather like the 1st. generation ones .
Good luck finding a Sedan Delivery, even if you do it’ll prolly have wrinkles in every inch of it .
Big eyes work better on cats!
As for the first-gen Falcons, my preference is 62, 63, 61, with 60 bringing up the rear. The 60 has such a sad face!
What a cute cat! My big orange cat fulfills all the stereotypes of stupidity and weirdness, but we love him anyway.
Hard to find mine with his eyes open these days. 🙂
Peter and Aaron, I just saw these posts now. Your orange cats are beautiful also! Ours is a relatively rare female.
The ’62 front end always reminds me of an electric shaver.
Jim, I think the ’64 Comet might have the Falcon beat!
***I’ve attached a couple of pictures, but they didn’t take. Picture it in your mind. :)***
I can’t call any of these a favourite; they’re all too droopy and sad and defeated and resigned. They all seem to sigh Hey, everybody, come look, I’m a cheap car instead of a more expensive one. Or don’t come look, it doesn’t matter; nothing does”..
The ’60 Falcon, to me, is the worst; that concave grille treatment doesn’t work here any better than it does on the ’61 Dodge.
The ’61 Falcon at least ditches the concavity, and it’s a bit less sad-sack for it.
The ’62 is a little further less ugly; the vertical grille lines do help counteract the droopiness, and those headlight eyebrows help a bit, too.
I guess the ’63 is somewhere in the middle; the convexity giveth, and the horizontality taketh away (and maketh me wonder if I’m seeing a Ford or a Chevy II).
I was seeing an Opel Rekord in the ’63 front end, too…but that might be too much of a stretch. Chicken and egg, either way, because they were both ’63s.
I prefer the 1962 and 1963 models, with the 1960 model bringing up the rear.
The 1961 grille was a minor change that made a noticeable difference in the appearance of the car’s front – for the better.
Definitely the Aussie XL for ’62-3.
Might look like the US ’63 but we kept the original fenders and had this really neat sorta-Thunderbirdish headlight treatment.
I’d go for a ’63 grille on a convertible, wagon or Ranchero. (Unfortunately by ’63 the sedans were ruined by the squared-up “Thunderbird” roofline which clashed horribly with the original rounded lower body and really should’ve been held back for the ’64 reskin – and the hardtop roof always looked too small for the rest of the car) The ’62, ’60 and ’61 round out the pack.
It sounds kinda stupid from this end of the planet but I like the early XL the best they were underdeveloped junk but they were pretty cars, very few survive here, in Ford sixes of that era in that size the Zephyr was the best choice.
Agree. We had one when I was a kid. Only lasted five years including a front end rebuild and new engine, such was life in the hands of a commercial traveller. Spent many a weekend afternoon washing it.
In order of preference-’63, ’61, ’60, ’62. Had a ’64 stripper 2 door in college with a tired 170 and 2 speed Ford o Matic. To pass, you just pulled out,floored it and prayed. A ’63 Sprint with a 260 and 4 speed would be a nice combo to have if I ever needed another toy.
I’ll take the ’61 with the Norelco grille. It just looks so happy. The ’60 has a concerned look, while the ’63 looks depressed and the ’62 looks downright suicidal.
I’ve never been a big fan of the early Falcons – I always liked the ‘66- ‘69 models better. An old woman we knew had a white ‘66 coupe that she bought new and drove to her cottage on Manitoulin Island in Ontario every summer until she passed away in the late ‘80’s. That said, I do like the ‘62 panel truck in the first shot, and I prefer the front end styling of the ‘62 – ‘64 models over the 60 ‘61 models. I also like the later Argentine Falcons – they did a good job of restyling the old front and rear ends. Also, a shout-out to the old green Chevy truck in the first shot with the Vernor’s logo on the door. My late mother (born and raised in Windsor) always had a few cans of Vernor’s kicking around in the fridge.
I always have a few cans of Vernors in the fridge: It’s a good mixer (especially with Red Stag), better than Alka Seltzer for an upset stomach, and tastes better (to me) than the other ginger ales.
I’ve always liked Vernor’s, as ginger ales go, but today I learned of their old logo. It involved a big-bearded gnome character, so I’m obliged to vote Yes. Evidently the gnome character was personified by one Ronald Bialecki, accessorised by a Plymouth Volaré gnomemobile:
They still use the image of the gnome on their packaging!
So now I know this is a 1961 Falcon based on the grille. Similar situation with the 61-66 F-100. I know the easy ones, the 65 and 66, but have yet to keep straight in my head the first four years.
I may be breaking the rules of the question, but I only like US Falcons from 1964/ 65 and prefer even more, the ones from 66 onwards (US and Aussie)
My Dad was on an economy kick and bought two new 1961 Falcons, a four-door deluxe trim in mint green and a two-door standard in white. Around 1967 he bought a used 1960 Falcon Ranchero in white over red. I preferred the concave grille on the 1960 and the lower volume little truck was the most fun to run around in – and a practical small hauler for light loads. The 1963 was a nice update and I probably would vote for its grille.
Well the only one of the four grilles sold here was the 1960 concave one, on the Australian XK Ford Falcon. The ’62 XL Falcon’s grille went convex similar to the US ’61, but minus the inbuilt indicators; the ’64 XM was still convex but flatter, and the ’65 XP had a new and chunky front clip.
Least favourite of all is the 1962 US razor grille which looks Eastern European – mid-70s Gaz Volga anyone?
Favourite is the 1960 US/Aussie XK concave grille. It does look softer and sadder, but to me it also looks light and more delicate and suits the softer more curvy C-Pillar of the 1960 (conversely it wouldn’t work with the squared-off ‘Thunderbird’ C-pillar of the 1962/Aussie XL Falcon).
My favorite front face for a Ford Falcon? It’s the original version with the solid beam front axle!