It’s like a recurring dream.
I’m driving along the primary boulevard of my small town of 1,600 residents, emerging from the tiny business district lined with all makes and manners of pickups and SUVs, diagonally parked, butts poking out into the street.
It’s Iowa, after all.
Suddenly a glint of sky-blue metal catches the corner of my eye.
Instinct tells me I’m headed for something special. I turn my head to catch a full-on glimpse of a pristine 1964 Ford Falcon, on display, not astride, but above, the curb in front of a little shotgun-type house.
You just don’t see sky-blue anythings anymore – not in this era of utilitarian grays, blacks and whites.
Yet, I’ve seen this little Ford before. Several times.
Actually, if memory serves, this car has had a For Sale sign in its window in numerous periodic appearances in town over the last three or four years. It has to have the same owner through all that time, since it keeps popping up in the same place it had been previously.
I first spotted it several years ago, with a $10,000 price on the sign. The Falcon disappeared not long after I first saw it, and I figured it had found a new home. I felt a pang of regret for not having had the resources to scoop it up myself, since it looked to be in pristine shape. I figured the little compact-that-wouldn’t-stay-small finally had joined somebody’s collection.
Then, around last summer, the same Falcon turned up again, parked in front of the same little house just outside the town square, again with a For Sale sign taped to the window. The owner also displayed the Falcon a couple of blocks away, in a parking lot along Iowa Highway 175, the most-traveled road through town. Then, the Falcon vanished again, and I experienced my own little automotive grief process all over again.
Just last week, it turned up again. Still for sale. Funny thing, though: The sign says it’s a ’64. You be the judge.
Is this a Falcon or a homing pigeon?
Whatever it is, this time, I stopped by to snap a few long-overdue photos.
Simplicity is a thing of beauty, and, while this model, which was the last year of the second-generation Falcons, doesn’t have the bling you’d expect in, say, a Futura.
This 2-door sedan came with seat belts standard. A glance into the front seat finds what appears to be the owner’s manual and a file folder containing, presumably, meticulously kept maintenance records. The car’s current owner was not around, so I’m left to rely on speculation.
There are no markings indicating the presence of a V8, so I have to assume this Falcon putters around on its 170 cubic-inch 6-cylinder mill. I didn’t get a look under the hood, but this car appears to be all-original and well-cared-for. I spotted nary a speck of rust anywhere — enviable condition for any car in Iowa, much less one that’s been plying its roads for nigh on 55 years.
Ford made a pretty fair splash in the compact-car market, with strong showings against domestic rivals from GM, Chrysler and, of course, American Motors, but also against VW, Renault and other offshore choices.
However, things seemed to get a little dicey for the Falcon marque, as it entered its second generation in 1964. The midyear invasion of Ford’s Mustang – a decidedly more muscular and sexy sibling built on a Falcon platform – certainly took a bite out of potential Falcon sales. All the Futura options and Sprint Packages in the world weren’t going to muffle the explosion Ford’s new pony car would make in the market for years to come.
Then again, there’s a quiet dignity about this car. It’s not about a burbling idle, clouds of rubber vapor rising in the wake of an instant sprint from a dead stop, nor even sexy curves and Coke-bottle hips that seemed to be drawing the attention of car-crazed Americans of the mid-‘60s. No, this is one squared-off, peaceful runabout — a nice second car for grocery-getting, perhaps?
Will the third time around be a charm for this ancient beauty? I hope so. This Falcon’s a keeper. The current owner certainly appears to be having trouble enough letting it go.