Ford Falcon

Dubbed as the "small car with the big car feel", Ford Falcon was considered the most successful vehicle launch of the 1959.

Of the 97,000 units produced in the first production run, dealers had basically snapped up the whole line in two months. In the 60s, Ford generally used animal names for many of their prototypes. Falcon, Mustang, Cougar are some examples of the ore famous names.

Since elegance and speed are main attributes of falcons, the name stood for the car which had same qualities. Henry Ford II held news broadcast to viewers in 21 cities when he introduced the 90 hp, 30 miles-per-gallon Ford Falcon. In 1959, the big American automakers adapted to the consumer needs for an inexpensive and smaller vehicles.

The race in the American small car market was initiated because European carmakers like Volkswagen, Fiat, and Renault were selling their cars by the thousands.

Ford managers hoped that Falcon would help keep the dominance of the American manufacturers. Ford Falcon project was started and sponsored by Robert S. McNamara, a Ford executive who became Ford's president briefly before being offered the job of U.S. Defense Secretary.

He was directly involved in every stage of the development, insisted on keeping the costs and weight of the car as low as possible. By American standards Falcon was a small car powered by lightweight 90 hp, 144 CID straight-6 with a single-barrel carburetor. In the first two years Ford sold more than a million models of Falcon on the market, whose design eventually inspired the legendary Ford Mustang.

As an interesting fact, the official marketing brochure featured Charlie Brown and Lucy from the Peanuts comic strip. Construction of the Falcon was unibody, with standard suspension (coil springs in front, leaf springs in the rear).

A three-speed manual column shift was standard, along with drum brakes at the front and rear wheels. Car was designed for six passengers to fit in the rather simple interior. First major redesign of the Falcon's happened in 1964. As Ford deviated from the original concept and tried to attract young people, new design was more modern and as the history will show, critical for the brand.

In the same year Ford Mustang was launched, overshadowing all the Falcon improvements such as the 260 V8 engine, a stiffer suspension and a louder exhaust. The Ford Falcon sales in North America suffered a strong hit from which they never recovered. In the end, the market change which initiated the Falcon development and American small cars race also led to the demise of the famous car manufacturers such as Edsel, the Nash, Hudson, DeSoto and Packard.

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