By on December 12, 2010


When I researched the subject of cars built in relatively unchanged form for 20 or more years, the only American machine that met my criteria was the first-gen Ford Falcon (no, the Model T was not built during 20 model years and, no, the Ford Panther and GM B platforms changed too much to be considered single models). As late as 1991, car shoppers in Argentina could step into a Ford showroom and choose between a new Falcon and a new Sierra XR4… or they could walk across the street to Peugeot and drive out in a new 504. How’s that for a set of choices?
Today, the BBC News has a short video piece on Argentina’s love for the Ford Falcon. Sure, the Argentinean Falcon got square headlights in 1970, but under the skin it’s still the 1960 compact car that Robert McNamara hammered through the heart of the Edsel, thus ensuring the decline and fall of American power, etc. (I’m just getting prepared for the anti-McNamara hate mail that I always get from Edsel fanatics every time I write about the Falcon). Unlike my very favorite Argentine-ized American car, the Falcon carries some ghosts on board, which should gratify the anti-Falcon zealots; during the Dirty War of the late 70s/early 80s, green Falcons were often used by security forces to abduct the desaparecidos, and the BBC touches on this less-rosy portion of Falcon nostalgia as well.
BBC News

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32 Comments on “BBC Honors the Argentine Ford Falcon...”


  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    I, for one, would appreciate the opportunity to buy a new car that has the vintage shadetree mechanical goodness of an old car. It’d be nice to avoid the rust issues, the constant nickle and dimeing of random components, deteriorating wiring, & the old fabric/grease funk permeating the interior in the summer that owning an older car brings.  My ultimate old car design would either be be a VW Type 1 or Chevy Nova with a straight six but I’d buy this Falcon if I could get it in the States…

  • avatar

    I doubt very much this is the same car from 1960. The XKwas exported to Australia and was well recieved untill it fell to pieces on city roads never mind in the bush it took Ford Australia until 1965 and the XP to produce something dutrable enough for anything other than smooth roads. The Argie car probably has some Aussie tech underneath coz the original American car was very tragile.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    The old Falcon doesn’t look so bad with squared headlights.  I can remember wallowing around corners without power steering and using the brakes in the rain very gingerly on an old 63.   The Argentines at least seem to get a floor shifter.
     
    Thank God Ford doesn’t make them like they used to. Most people today would kill themselves in one and lawyers would have field day.  A 72 Dodge Dart was a very similar experience, but with better brakes.

  • avatar
    Carlos Villalobos

    In Argentina they still race the Torino and Ford Falcon in the most popular race series there. Turismo Carretera. I mean the cars are based in Falcons, Chevy Nova, Dodges and Torino shells. The rivalry between Ford and Chevrolet people only can be compared to the rivalry in Australia between Holden and Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      fastback

      Dodge Polara’s are still used in TC, as well. 
      Even out on the streets I still see a good number of ‘sportified’ Polaras in Argentina.  They’re a pretty awesome sight IMO.  

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I thought I remembered seeing an article in Collectible Automobile several years ago about the Ramblers of Argentina. Or Brazil. I can’t remember which country right now. However, IIRC, they were still selling the old A-body Dodge Dart (or Plymouth Duster in the US) with the Polara badges on them. It would be cool to be able to get one of those old A-bodies today.

    • 0 avatar
      fastback

      Geo:

      the Polaras i see down there are long hooded and even longer decked.  don’t think they’re rebadged Darts or Dusters…… but it’s definitely not a Polara i’ve recall seeing here.   Here’s one in it’s full glory.  Looooooove this car!  http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3c/Dodge_Polara_Argentina.JPG&imgrefurl=http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dodge_Polara_Argentina.JPG&usg=__wMFShaFMq1QhQC9pq8UkpUhcHMc=&h=600&w=800&sz=74&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=fLzCjfzpdK43dM:&tbnh=139&tbnw=212&prev=/images%3Fq%3DArgentina%2BDodge%2Bpolara%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1259%26bih%3D571%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=143&vpy=88&dur=110&hovh=194&hovw=259&tx=142&ty=62&ei=QGMFTfGfGcqYnAfU7qXoDQ&oei=QGMFTfGfGcqYnAfU7qXoDQ&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=15&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @fastback: I checked the photo you posted, that looks to me like a B-body Coronet (the basis for the original Charger). It’s been a while since I read that article, obviously my memory wasn’t that accurate. But hey, I wouldn’t mind one of those, in Argentine trim. It looks pretty darn cool!

      EDIT: I guess my original point was that they were recycling the Polara name, it was originally used on a C-body (full size) car. Either way, that’s OK with me. We’re a little poorer here in the US for not getting those cars they have in Argentina…

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      Man! I wonder if you can get a 440 Wedge in that Polara? Gorgeous tho those square lights are funky.

    • 0 avatar
      fastback

      Geo,

      a short while after finding that first link I located this one:  the Polara in GTX trim.  very sweet…. but I can’t imagine the gas bill !! This is a country where the locals were paying $1.00 per litre!  (I’ve not been back since 08 so I have no idea what the current prices are)  

      GTX:   http://img1.imageshack.us/i/DodgeGTXargentino2.jpg/sr=1
      or
      http://www.cardomain.com/ride/3026065/1973-dodge-polara

      nice, Straight 6– I have also seen some outfitted w/ diesels or still more w/ Conpressed Gas, believe it or not.  sharp car.  And no,  We may have an eclectic lot, but Argentina was a woebegone place for cars up until 15-20 years ago.  Puegoets 403, 404 504, Reneault 3 CVs, 4, 6 and 12s., Old english Ford Taunus, Dodge Colts  (1500) and the real ancient Fiat 1500,125, 128s.   And yes, the Green Falcons took the wind from the sails of the stereotypical argie auto…..

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @dimwit: A big block in one of those? Oh hells yes!
       
      @Fastback: I’m rapidly falling in love with the Argentine Polara. To my eye, it looks like several mid 60′s GM and Chrysler models, which is not a bad thing. I would like to have some of those eclectic choices available to me.

    • 0 avatar
      MattPete

      That Polara makes the new Dodge Charger look weak.  THAT is what the Charger should have looked like, not the narrow, tall, poseur.

  • avatar
    Jseis

    My uncle had been in Chile in the ’50′s and commented that perfectly new (or nearly new) Model A’s were trundling around. So went I went to South America in ’88 I figured for some unusual sightings and by god, there in Buenos Aires were perfectly mid 60 ‘s Falcons with Euro style lighting and black vinyl roofs. Then there were the Galaxie’s cruising by with the “289″ badges. Sau Paulo sightings included diesel Bronco’s with a tiny bed. Ancient Volvo buses in Peru. What the hey?  Seem as old tooling never dies, just goes south. That included the airports where 707′s were common (the planes sans tooling) and loud (no noise abatement). VW Bugs of course, particularly in Mexico.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    When I saw the banner photo, and before I read that it was an Ag Falcon, I figured this was some variant of the GAZ-1405 Chacka…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GAZ-14_Czajka.JPG

  • avatar
    Nicodemus

    Interesting how the evolution of the Aussie Falcon and the Argie Falcon diverged from their common ancestor.

  • avatar
    Fritz

    Ford moved their stamping equipment South. I’d buy a shade tree car like this in a heartbeat if it were available in the US. Drive it around town and look twice when I crossed an intersection.

    Safer than a motorcycle and it will keep you dry in a rainstorm. One time a guy on a classic hog offered to swap his bike for my 63 Falcon at a gas station. The bad weather had got to him and yes he was serious. That bike would be worth a pile of change today.

    But even back then I loved my Falcon. It was so reliable! When things broke, and they did, I could always get it rolling again. I’ve rebuilt fuel pumps and generators in hotel rooms with simple tools. Now days people are their cars slaves, not masters. Car ownership just isn’t fun any more.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    When I went to Argentina in 2004, there were a lot of 504 still around. Most of them were taxis.
     
    Don’t remember having seen a Falcon, but remember that one guy at the factory had a Torino with CNG due to high fuel costs.
     
    There are many old designs still in production: B13 Sentra, Peugeot 405, Fiat 131, Corsa B or Corsa 2 whatever, Fiat Uno, Festiva/Pride, even a pickup derived from the old Hillman Hunter.

  • avatar
    K5ING

    Hey Murilee..  I’ve known about the Argentine Falcons and Argentine Rambers for awhile, but do you know that you could still buy a brand new Kaiser Manhattan down there up until 1962?
     
    When production of the Manhattan ended in the US, it was moved to Argentina and the car was renamed the Carabela.  Here’s site about it:
    http://www.mango-madness.com/personal/Kaiser/index.php
     
    While we are at it, here is a page with some pictures of Argentine limos, including ones of the Kaiser Carabela and the Falcon.
     
    http://www.cocheargentino.com.ar/l/limusinas.htm
     
    That last site is a pretty good one for all Argentine cars, but you’ll need to use a translator.

    Enjoy!!
     
     

  • avatar
    h82w8

    My wife and I were in Argentina just last month visiting our daughter, who’s been studying there since July. We were in Buenos Aires and Mendoza, and I saw Falcons all over the place, especially up in Mendoza.
    The fact that there are still so many of the original 1960 body style puttering around, often fully laden with families and cargo, the rough dirt roads outside of Mendoza and up in the Andes foothills, says a lot about the ruggedness and durability of this platform.

  • avatar
    Augie the Argie

    Here is the chronological evolution of the Ford Falcon in Argentina, the main difference with that of the Australian Falcon is that our version never became modernized.  It received cosmetic changes along the 30 years of Argentine production (1962-1991)

    ‘the original’ as imported in 1960 and then produced in 1962

    1970 Falcon

    1973 Falcon

    1976 Falcon

    1978 Falcon

    1983 Falcon

    1987 Falcon

    1989 Falcon

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    Let’s not forget the pre-Audi DKW cars built in Argentina by Vemag, from 1958 through 1967.  The cars were essentially the same as the DKW Auto Union 1000 (aka “3=6″). 

    They’re still raced – and they really do sound like racecars when on the track (and sound a lot like what they are when warming up – 3 cylinder 2 strokes)! 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2yHSsT_pIM&feature=related

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    Here’s a vid-article about a sport-wagen that DKW-Vemag built 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbNP1XERpLE

    They built a 2 door version with much more modern lines, as well. 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLBb_QvhWeQ

    Here’s what it is like to be inside a 50hp full sized front wheel drive car. 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_njDEdi8_0&feature=related

  • avatar
    Augie the Argie

    Sorry guys, here are the pictures
    http://www.todofalcon.com.ar/galmodel.htm

  • avatar

    I like those early models put later 4.1 motor n 5 speed discs all round cool ride, an the bits all interchange ideal shadetree/bush mechanics cars.

  • avatar

    Ohh the south! I miss my country… http://www.todofalcon.com.ar/Fotos/Modelo62_03.JPG
    As you can see by this picture ( http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_tYj3qrH6YCw/Su79waBaulI/AAAAAAAAAIA/QJ0H5VbxZwE/s1600-h/dirty+war.jpg )The Argentine Falcon was used by the military during the dirty war between 1978-1982. These car were often seen ‘kidnapping’ people.
    In 1986, my dad had a red one with CNG -
    http://www.nexoautos.com.ar/FotoVehiculo/d305829faa5eba1b38859ab30bd83dea.jpg
     
     

  • avatar
    fastback

    Rico,

    They’re still popular!  I have an uncle that buys them, scrubs their faces and sells them on and it’s a brisk business.  As long as they’re powered by the CNG, ppl love them as daily drivers! 

    I’ve always thought hauling my convertible Mustang down there would be a load of fun, but now I’m begining to believe it would be best of have a Polara GTX hauled up here and having it refitted w/ a behemoth powerplant!  Maybe one could fund the other????

  • avatar
    kkt

    I was just reading about the green Falcons used by the security forces.  Ford of Argentina had a cozy relationship with the junta.  Ford supplied the Falcons for the security service.  The security service arrested, tortured, and imprisoned right on the factory premises any union organizers or sympathizers among the workers.  Seeing them daily was a better example to the other workers than just making them disappear would have been.
     

  • avatar
    Augie the Argie

    I just found a photo from Ford Argentina of a 1985 Falcon restyling that never happened, I
    guess they better invested the money in creating the last Falcon model with the Econo-max
    engine.  It was 25% cheaper to run as it brought down its consumption from 12 to 9.5km/litre
    and required regular gasoline instead of premium or super as we call it.

    http://clubfalcon.netfirms.com/fotos/dis5.jpg


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