Falcon - the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The Ford Falcon has been around since the early 1960’s but 2016 will see the very last Falcon role off the production line in Australia. The Falcon has proved a winner with most models but some examples have, to put it kindly, not been that flash.

Here is a quick look at what some are saying are the good, the bad and we will let you decide about the ugly.
The Good List:

The 1965 XP Falcon was the first Falcon to get the formula right. It had a bigger 3.3L engine providing better performance and looked the part. The Falcon also came with a 70,000-mile reliability warranty.

The 1966 XR Falcon followed the XP with macho styling that lasted for the next 10 years. The XR was a hit as it gave birth to the V8 Falcon.

The 1982 XE Falcon - The XD the model before the XE was also a good big car but others like the Holden Commodore were shrinking in size. With an improved engine design and suspension, the XE offered a big car with small car fuel-economy and ride.

The 1994 EL Falcon was all that was learnt over the years packed into one car. The 6-cylinder engine was stronger and smoother than ever and the same for the V8 version. More upgrades to the rear suspension made it match the front end and safety was improved. This model of Falcon was light and responsive to drive.

The Ford Falcon BAThe 2002 BA Falcon - Some say if you learn by your mistakes, the more you make the better you will be, as this could be applied to the BA Falcon. The previous model AU Falcon showed how poor a Falcon could be.

Ford moved very quick to re-engineer the AU to deliver the better looking and performing BA. All BA’s got independent suspension and Ford developed the excellent DOHC 6-cylinder engine, the V8 became a twin-cam design and the XR6 Turbo was added.
The Bad List:

The 1960 XK Falcon was a real disaster and almost ended Falcon before it started. It may have been the first Falcon to be built in Australia but it really was an American. This was all good until it was driven on Australian and New Zealand roads, which resulted in the car falling apart at the seams. The front suspension could not cope with the rough tracks that were still common in the early 1960’s.

The 1976 XC Falcon suffered from bad timing as the Australian Federal Government decided to get tough on emissions and introduced the Australian Design Rule 27A. To meet the new standards the pollution equipment stifled the engine's breathing using more fuel with less power. A cross-flow cylinder head was designed to counter the power-loss problem but it still used 10% more fuel. Other problems included hotter running and harder starting and, it would be many years until Ford engineers overcame Rule 27A and restored engine performance and economy.

The 1984 XF Falcon was again another victum of bad timing as Ford tried to squeeze a little more out of the sucessful XE with this offering. The changes were too little and too late and the XF was out of date. Without power-steering it was cumbersome to drive and the only performance model in the showroom was an injected 6-cylinder. The XF was the first model since 1965 not to have a V8 option.

The 1988 EA Falcon was the car that Ford planned to sell through the 1990’s but the first EA wasn't that flash. It was rushed to market without a 4-speed automatic and with some questionable build quality and reliability. It was also offered with a smaller underpowered 3.2L engine which was soon dumped and again there was no V8 version.

The Ford Falcon AUThe 1998 AU Falcon was an example of how to mess up a new-model launch. The look was ugly, the grill strange, the wheels looked skinny with terrible plastic wheel trims to match.

Ford then did something incredible and refused to offer fleet discounts, effectively disadvantaging some of its best customers. That’s the time that the sales went to the Holden Commodore.

October 2016


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