Underneath its bright blue plumage, this ’66 Falcon features a number of surprises.
In 1966, when this Falcon was rolling down the assembly line, few would have guessed that, fifty years later, the Falcon would be on the verge of becoming a Dodo.
While the Falcon’s demise will become a reality in 2016, it could have happened much sooner, as the Falcon’s early years in Australia were far from serene.
The Falcon’s early history here in Australia has already been well-documented, as has its troubles in suiting our conditions. While perfectly fine for smooth American highways, Australia’s rough roads, especially in rural and regional areas, played havoc with the car’s fragile front suspension.
The automatic transmission was subject to similar teething problems, but by the time the XP series debuted in February, 1965, those problems had been rectified.
Understandably, there was still some trepidation from customers, so the recently-appointed Ford Australia CEO, Bill Bourke, commissioned a durability test that – in his mind, at least – would confirm the Falcon’s suitability for Australian conditions once and for all.
Miles and Miles and Miles
In April, 1965, a hand-picked team of professional and racing drivers were given five new XP Falcons and instructed to drive them non-stop, with the aim of covering 70,000 miles (112,000kms) over nine days at an average of 70mph (112kph) at Ford’s You Yangs proving ground near Geelong.
Had it taken place on the high-speed oval, that goal would have been a doddle, but that loop hadn’t been completed in early 1965. Instead, the run would take place on a 2.5 mile (3.7km) “durability road” designed to simulate real Australian roads. While bituminised, the track was narrow, with elevation changes and a number of off-camber corners. Trees, bushes and rocks were just off the verge, too, so there was little margin for error!
The trying nature of the circuit was proven when three of the five Falcons rolled, some multiple times, trying to maintain the 70mph average, while another went off piste and hit a huge boulder.
On the cusp of setting the ‘70,000 at 70’ goal, Henry Ford II himself came to witness the proceedings, while the successful conclusion of the run showed Bourke’s gamble had paid off: the publicity generated in motoring magazines and the general press at the time did much to reverse the negative public perception of the Falcon.
The Falcon was still some way off becoming an Australian favourite, but the XP can rightly be regarded as a turning point in the Falcon’s Australian history.
Add a Little Mercury
While virtually identical to the XM Falcon it replaced from the windscreen back, new front sheetmetal gave the XP Falcon its own personality. The squarer look, inspired by Mercury’s Comet in the U.S. (look up a ’63 Comet and you’ll see the similarities), made the XP arguably the most attractive of the first-generation Falcons, but the unit on show here, from Adults Only Car Shop in Maroochydore, Queensland, shows that it can be made even more attractive!
This car, a ’66 model Deluxe sedan, is typical of the bulk of Falcons sold over the XP’s 20 months in the marketplace.
Sedans, in standard, Deluxe, Futura and new Fairmont spec, were joined in the XP range by a station wagon, also in four spec levels, as well as two spec levels of utility, a panel van and the hardtop. Despite its sleek, sporty appearance, sales of the hardtops had failed to meet Ford’s expectations, so the 2-door was dropped after the XP’s model run and wouldn’t return until the XA of 1972.
Similarly, the ‘Squire’ station wagon made its last appearance in XP form after debuting with the XL. Unlike the 2–door, the Squire wagon, with its fake timber side panelling, would never return.
In a little under two years, 70,998 XP Falcons were built, but survivors are relatively few today, certainly compared to the later XWs and XYs, and even against the earlier XK, XL and XM Falcon.
The car featured, currently for sale with Adults Only Car Shop, is one of those “barn finds” you always read about, but rarely see.
First registered in July, 1965, this XP was driven for a dozen years before the owner parked it in 1977. It stayed parked for the next 32 years!
Found in a Darling Downs paddock in 2009, the car was still in remarkably good condition, despite having nothing more than a tarpaulin for protection for more than three decades.
The new owner, realising this was a classic that would benefit from a restoration, commissioned a full
bare-metal resto job, while adding some modern touches to make it a more usable and enjoyable cruiser.
New Blue Bird
The brilliant blue paint, which is ‘Blue Flame’ metallic from a US Ford Fusion, adds a bit of spark and is certainly a more eye-catching shade than the dull factory-original green the car wore when found. Complementing this is a white top and white stripe tyres on wheels fitted with chrome hubcaps and trim rings.
Being a Deluxe, this Falcon carries a little more bling than the standard model, much of which was either replaced or rechromed for the restoration. The grille and wrapround front bumper, in particular, are in top condition and help to highlight that bold blue paint.
Under the Skin
From the outside, this Falcon looks bone stock, which was the owner’s intention from the outset of this restoration.
That mantra extended to under the bonnet, too. Within that super-clean engine bay resides the car’s original 170ci ‘Pursuit’ six-cylinder engine, which has been fully rebuilt and detailed.
Coming from late in the XP build period, this car was fitted with the three-speed Fordomatic auto, rather than the two-speed fitted to the bulk of auto trans XPs.
Diff ratio is the standard 3.5:1 and suspension is factory spec, as are the brakes, lighting and electrics.
Inside, there are a number of new or improved features, but the appearance of originality has been maintained.
As found, the Falcon had metallic green vinyl seats, but the owner had the front and rear benches retrimmed in leather-look Bone White vinyl for the resto, with the same touch applied to the door cards. The white complements the blue paint and certainly doesn’t compromise this Falcon’s classic status.
Dash and switchgear are all stock and in generally good condition, too.
You wouldn’t pick it from a look inside the passenger compartment, but this Falcon now rocks a modern Alpine sound system.
Hidden in the glovebox is the head unit, while a 4-channel amp is also discreetly tucked away. A pair of 3-inch speakers now reside under the factory grilles in the dash, while a pair of 6.9-inch speakers occupy the rear parcel shelf. In the fully retrimmed boot is the real party piece for the audio system – a pair of 12-inch sub woofers.
All up, there’s plenty of audio power here, but it’s been so discreetly included that it doesn’t detract from the car’s stock appearance.
Blue for You?
Given it only marginally deviates from factory spec, there’s a lot to like about this car, for both Falcon purists and those who just want a neat classic cruiser.
Fresh from its full-body restoration, this Aussie classic really needs nothing - just jump in and enjoy.
With comfortable and safe cruising in mind, there are some modern additions, like the aforementioned sound system and a full complement of modern seat belts. The 170ci six is set up to run on unleaded fuel, too.
If you think this blue bird is for you, see the breakout for further details.
Adults Only Car Shop in Queensland currently have this striking Falcon for sale in their Maroochydore showroom.
As an entry into classic motoring, this car has just about everything you need. Given the imminent demise of the Falcon, it’s sure to increase in value, too.
Queensland registered, asking price for this car is $32,900. Finance is available and trade-ins are welcome.
For more details, phone Adults Only Car Shop on (07) 5479 5962, or call in to the showroom at 17 Trinder Avenue, Maroochydore.
See more photos and specs of the car online HERE