A CAST OF FALCONS
Winter was just giving way when I stumbled upon the bruised little birdie in South Slope:
This is a 1961 Ford Falcon in Raven Black. One bird painted in another ones color! She seems to be capable enough to drive around in but there's no denying the one bad day she had way back when.
That's a tough knock indeed. That tree just jumped out in front of me!
Being a compact car she took it pretty well. You can easily identify this as a 2nd year Falcon because the grill is convex in shape, while the inaugural year of 1961 sported a concave grill. Starting with the '62 model year the grill was no longer tucked in under the lip of the hood.
The Falcon was introduced in 1960 to help stave off the ever-successful European imports such as the VW Beetle. Initially Fords little compact was a runaway hit, with points for economy and reliability. With the small inline-6 cylinder engine that was standard this little cruiser boasted 30mpg! The fact that automakers brag about numbers like that 54 years later illustrates how impressive that was.
Everything on this car is rounded from the overall silhouette, to the side trim, to the shape of each window. The '60s are second only to the '80s in sharp-angled square cars so this is a friendly look.
In California you get Mexican blankets as seat covers in old cars, so I guess you get some '80s Nu Jazz artsy print in NYC?
As thrifty as this little frumper is it does have some options; the radio certainly wasn't included back in '61 (a $58.45 option; $4 more than the non-pushbutton version), nor was the 2-speed Fordomatic automatic transmission (a whopping $163.10!). This Falcon also sports the Delux Trim and Ornamentation package which includes (among other things) the white steering wheel with chrome horn ring.
With the damage hidden this is a sweet looking ride, especially in black.
Visibility is excellent thanks in part to the wraparound rear window.
No reverse lights for 1961!
The gas cap placement was in this spot for just about every Ford right up through the Pinto of '71. Bizarrely the Pinto is best remembered for the potential for the gas tank to explode in a rear-end collision even though its gas cap was located on the quarter panel.
These rocket taillights are a design feature carried throughout the Ford lineup in '61, from the Falcon on up to the luxury Thunderbird and Starliner.
I think the chrome trim wrapping around the taillights before heading up to the front of the car is just neat.
Believe it or not, the former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara is known as the Father of the Falcon. He was Fords general manager in the late '50s and he commissioned the creation of a compact car. By the time it was launched he had been promoted to Vice President of cars and trucks and he was directly responsible for keeping weight and costs down in the final design.
Even though this car is on the small side it was meant for 6 passengers to ride in relative comfort.
These smart but simple hubcaps were standard but the mini whitewalls were optional.
Well we'll leave this ride and move on to its younger sibling.
This example is a Falcon Futura from 1964. In every mechanical sense this car is the Ford Mustang that was released halfway through the '64 model year. The grill is a 1-year-only unit with horizontal bars replacing this rectangles-in-a-grid look in '65. Perhaps most importantly, this is the year of the car driven by the Rodriguez Brothers in Repo Man!
It's a bit foggy with age but this hood ornament consists of a piece of glass with the stylized Ford logo suspended within.
This day was bright and beautiful, but the car was parked on a harrowing 1-lane raceway with lots of traffic, so the pics are crummy.
DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SCREEN! The next 2 warped pics are a result of a reminder I'd set in my phone going off while I was taking pictures. It warps the image while the chime is playing so you know to pay attention to whatever alarm you set. Little did I know that the pics would be as warped as the screen I was looking through.
One more goofy warped image. This car was restored well and perfectly straight.
The brushed aluminum panel between the taillights and accent gills on the rear quarter are just enough extra detail to make this a classy ride.
There was no purple color option from Ford for '64 but it looks fine. This car looks sharp in any color.
The overall look is decidedly more aggressive than the earlier Falcons. It was all a part of Fords "Total Performance" look which was meant as a precursor to the launch of the Mustang halfway through the year. This car is literally identical to the Mustang with the exception of the body. For this reason the Falcon became somewhat redundant, finally being terminated after the 1970 model year.
*There actually was a 19701/2 only Falcon which was essentially a base model Fairlane and bore no resemblance to its former self.
One more look at these puppy dog eyes on the way out.