By on August 16, 2013

falcon

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a Naturalization Ceremony. If you have never had the opportunity to be there when immigrants to our country take the oath of citizenship and exchange their Green Cards for their Naturalization Certificates, you are missing out on one of those special things that makes the United States of America a truly great place to be. Looking out across the crowd you can see people who began their lives in the far corners of the world sitting beside one another without regard for gender, race or national origin. It matters little where they came from, whether or not they once lived on one side of some armed border or the other, today they are Americans and the old hatreds, if not forgotten, are at least set aside. On that day, they are united in their desire to join in our great experiment, to offer their descendents to the great American melting pot in the hopes that they will blend seamlessly into the fabric of our nation in the same way that we, the descendants of so many who made that journey before them, have done.

The stories they tell are often powerful. We often think they come to our shores simply for freedom and to take advantage of the economic opportunity our country offers, but often they are here because we are an island of peace in a terrible world and because they have endured horrors that would keep most of us awake at night if we spent too long thinking about them. At the ceremony I attended the speaker, a young man from Rwanda, told of his childhood experiences hiding in a thorn bush to avoid being murdered and of walking over corpses so thick on the ground that he could not avoid stepping on them as he sought to escape his war ravaged land. Other people have spoken to me about poverty, hopelessness and, worst of all, what happens when your own government institutes a reign of terror and people begin to vanish. Such was the case in Argentina in the mid 1970s and, although the reign of terror is now ended and the situation improved, one icon of those times still strikes fear into the populace whenever it appears: the otherwise unremarkable Ford Falcon.

In 1961, Ford sent two examples of their recently introduced Falcon to Argentina in order to help their factory in La Boca set up a production line. Argentina was booming then and the newly emerging middle class finally had enough discretionary income to afford new cars. Naturally, the Ford company was hoping to put that country on wheels and the rugged and reliable Falcon seemed to be perfect for the task. The car was introduced for the 1962 model year and was a hit from almost the minute it went on the market. Argentines took to it as though it were their own Model T and made it the bestselling car in their history. The Falcon thrived and by 1973 had received several updates and was almost entirely built of locally sourced parts. But even as the Ford Falcon flourished, the nation was headed towards Chaos.

falcon_weapons

In 1976 the Argentine military seized control of the country and most of those who actively opposed its rule were murdered shortly thereafter. The military followed up those first murders with what is known as “The Dirty War,” a war they waged against their own people between 1976 and 1983 and during that time an estimated 30,000 people went missing. What happened to most of these people remains a mystery to this day, but one common thread to their disappearance is that many were last seen in the back of a dark green Ford Falcon.

Why the Argentine secret police chose the car is simple. The Falcon was already a proven police vehicle in service all over the country where it wore more-or-less standard black and white police livery so the secret police knew the car would be reliable. Why they decided on dark green is less clear, perhaps it was intentionally chosen because they hoped the dark color would elicit fear or because there were so many others around in that color and they thought it would blend in better, who knows? The end result, however, is that the dark green Falcon soon became feared on the streets and whenever one of the cars was spied cruising slowly along the block, people knew there was a good chance that someone in the area would likely not be returning home that night.

Photo courtesy of Reuters.

Those days have passed but live on in the memories of those who endured those horrific events and what should be a golden legacy for the Falcon has been tarnished by its fearful association. To many Argentines, the Falcon is simply an old car, one that their parents and grandparents may have owned, one that they may have ridden in during their childhood. To others they are a symbol of oppression and fear. For those people, the memories of what they endured and those that they lost will never go away. For them, even the mere sight of a Ford Falcon, especially one painted dark green, stirs those memories and causes the pain to begin again. It is a horrible legacy for what everyone agrees was an otherwise fine car.

We in the first world often live in ignorance of what happens outside of our borders. We see the events on the news, hear the talk of analysts and pundits, but seldom grasp the actual horror that is sometimes the norm in some of the Earth’s most terrible places. The next time someone tells you that they are a naturalized citizen, shake their hand and know that their presence strengthens our country. The next time you see a Ford Falcon, especially a dark green one, think for a moment about the 30,000 Argentines who vanished after their ride in a similar car and be thankful we are insulated from such things. There but for the grace of God, go us.

Thomas M Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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77 Comments on “On Peace, Freedom And The Fearsome Reputation Of The Ford Falcon...”


  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Great story. Some people don’t like it, but cars and the business of cars, always get mixed up in politics. The oldest that comes to mind is Dodge and WW-I ambulances.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Agree! Really good read!

      Snapped me back to when MY dad became a US citizen way back when, and yes, we also had an American Ford Falcon, a 1962 model that was my mom’s car.

      Afterwards, once my dad had his naturalization certificate, we all jumped in the Falcon and celebrated at Jack-in-the-Box.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    Thanks a pantload, Kreutzer…I had always associated the Ford Falcon with Australia and “Mad Max”…now I get to think of it as a character in a U2 song.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    In 1971 I bought a 1960 Falcon wagon newly arrived in Indiana after a career of California hippie hauling. It’s VW-like stippled white roofliner was stained Meerschaum brown from a half-decade of THC exposure. But no rust.

    I love every Ford product from the Big Round Tailight era.
    After angry Buicks, prettiest ass-ends ever.

  • avatar
    BerlinDave

    Hope they got the right color brake fluid!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Nice article. I never thought of the Falcon as an American model really, but an European or AUS type deal. That’s a nice design though, and a good, clean looking car. The photo of the rear light has a flavor of 70s Civic to it.

    However, it would seem “the great American melting pot,” is no longer an acceptable, “PC” term. It’s now the “salad bowl,” where the different colors and creeds mix in harmony, maintaining their own identity.

    I don’t try to be PC in life really, but I thought I’d throw that out there. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Traditionally, America has been both. It’s always been a salad bowl for the first generation that still holds customs from their land of origin. The melting comes in the second and third generations, the second that arrived as children, and the third generation that was born in America.

      That’s what happened to the great migration that funneled through Ellis Island a century ago. I just wonder if recent decades of American cultural expansion, technology, and the ubiquity of blue jeans and Big Macs outside our borders has changed perceptions for many under 30 immigrants.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    My college car was a green 1960 Falcon with the six and three on the column. Friends called it the “Ferd Foul-car,” but the machine got revenge by being a completely reliable basic machine for all the time I owned it.

    Good machine….which morphed into the ’64 1/2 ‘stang….which I will always love.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Not exactly “morphed”. The Mustang was Lee Iacocca’s revenge against Robert McNamara and the Falcon. The fact that the ‘Stang had Falcon underpinnings just made it sweeter.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Thanx .

    When new , although Ford Falcons sold by the boatload , there were derided by ” True GearHeads ” because they were so cheap and basic .

    Time has told another story of course , it turned out they were pretty good cars (for Fords) and they even made Pony Cars and Light Duty Trucks off the same platform , many are still doing Yeoman Duty daily .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      PunksloveTrumpys

      The automotive press didn’t take too kindly to the ’60 Falcon, either.

      I remember reading an old car magazine (cant remember if it was Car & Driver, Wheels or whatnot) where one of the journos wrote something like “Macnamara wears granny glasses and he’s put out a granny car.”

      Pretty sure the mag got a few stains from my tears of laughter!

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The Falcon platform is also the basis of the original, what a great car and nothing can stop me now world we live in, Mustang. I choose my memories carefully

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    Interesting story. I work with several naturalized citizens who know too well the horrors that the USSR delivered to friends and family. I have a friend who left Romania and to this day will not talk about their Revolution…perhaps some day in the early morning hours I will be allowed to see behind that curtain. Our recent regimes in this country make me increasingly nervous.

    On an automotive note, my father didn’t want to wait for a ’64-1/2 Mustang so he bought its half-brother, the Mercury Comet instead. He still raves about the 260 V8 as being one of the best engines he ever owned.

  • avatar
    carr1on

    Growing up in the 70s, my dad had a 1960 Ford Falcon station wagon. We drove that thing everywhere, including cross country trips from Oklahoma City to Roswell (NM). I can remember sweltering in the back seat in the (dry!) heat as we rambled across the New Mexico desert.

    My dad kept the Falcon until the early 80′s, when it had almost completely rusted apart. The front passenger seat floor board was completely rusted out, so you had to press your feet against the front compartment or sit Indian style.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “The front passenger seat floor board was completely rusted out..”

      Heh… same thing happened to my brother’s TR-4. Watching the road zing by was very cautionary. Like staring down at a belt sander with super-coarse grit.

  • avatar
    Molotovio

    Hi,
    A couple of comments.
    As an Argentinean and soon to be naturalized US citizen it was very nice to read the article.
    Yes, the ‘falcon verde’ (green falcon) is still today an stigma, due to its role in the repression done by the Junta in the 70′s. In one part of “The secret in their eyes” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1305806/ can be observed. As well as in the “The Official Story” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089276/.

    At the same time, the Falcon and perhaps the Renault 12, are/were staples of how an industry can go on and on making basically the same car (Peugeot 504 too), when protectionism is done by countries.
    Both these cars were known for simple mechanics and for being reliable and enduring all types of excess.
    These cars were deeply loved by their owners and kept asking to be built exactly the same for decades.

    Now, the little mistakes

    1. It is “La Boca” (feminine), ‘lo’ is the neutral article, ‘el’ is masculine.
    2. More important, Ford factory is not in La Boca but it is in Pachecho (north of BsAs).
    http://www.ford.com.ar/corporativo/acerca-de-ford/planta-pacheco

    According to this article, this factory started in Sept. 21 (when spring starts in Argentina) 1961 and was the first place where and ‘all Argentinean falcon’ was built.

    Besides the Falcon, Fairlines, Taunus and F-100 were built; later the Sierra, Escort , Ranger and Focus were/are also built.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for your corrections and kind words. I read “La Boca” and somehow it ended up as “Lo” – not sure if that was an auto correct thing or what.

      It would be my guess that the factory started in Sept and began with the 1962 model year as Septemeber is usually the month in the US that the new models go on sale. I’ll correct those now. Thanks for your help.

      Where will you be doing your Naturalization Ceremony?

      • 0 avatar
        Molotovio

        ;)
        I imagine it will be somewhere in NM. Most likely in Albuquerque.

        New model cars usually start (started) in January with the calendar year. Sometimes you could get the car in December as a xmas or new years gift :)

  • avatar
    Joss

    In a democracy a knock at the door in the early hours usually means its the milkman.
    -Winston Churchill.

    But wasn’t it America that enabled the dictatorships to flourish for fear of communism gaining a toehold from beneath?

    You can also consider the Ford model A, black in color assembled under license in the USSR. A favorite of Stalin’s NKVD. Nicknamed ‘black ravens’ for snatching people off the streets.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      America has a problem choosing its friends wisely. Our support of the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s is a recent example, among many.

    • 0 avatar
      Molotovio

      Indeed,
      it was out of fear of the ‘communist’, same thing for all the latin american dictatorships.
      That also ended up in the Malvinas (Falklands) war when the guys in the military juntas thought they would have the support of USA!!

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “Stalin’s NKVD. Nicknamed ‘black ravens’ for snatching people off the streets”

      Another “warm fuzzy” to think about before bedtime…

      http://www.marxists.org/subject/art/visual_arts/painting/exhibits/socialist-realism/black-ravens.jpg

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Very interesting story about the Falcon; I didn’t know of its linkage to the Argentine horrors.

    Good plug for naturalized citizens; most of us Americans can trace our roots to somewhere else. But it’s those who sneak in the side door that have caused so much national discussion.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    Excellent story that makes a very poignant point. I had no idea of this particular moment in history, thank you.

    As a descendant of some who came with nothing to lose, I can’t say I understand at all what that decision entailed. I can say with confidence that I would rather live here undocumented than most anyplace else otherwise. It is a shame that our attempts to export our attitude and spirit have failed so often, but we should be proud that much of the world still looks to us as the place where anyone can succeed.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @Thomas Kreutzer
    Very good story. On my father’s side we were a Ford family. My grandfather always had Fords.

    I remember my father had a 61 Falcon and a 63 Galaxy with a 300 straight six.

    My grandfather lived Up State near you in the Finger Lakes region and had a corn farm.

    The Falcon in the end morphed into a great car here in Australia. But they will stop, which is sad, but I don’t regret it, as something will come along to replace it and probably is going to be better.

    But like you mentioned not many people realise what goes on outside of their borders. Even here we have attitude.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Somewhere in my photo files I’ve a pic taken in Buenos Aries in ’88 of a very nice dark green falcon with a black vinyl roof with “Euro” style halogen headlights and orange/red tail lights. Sweet looking car and went with the 289 Galaxies rolling by. A complete WTF time warp.

  • avatar
    n_tesla

    Just awesome sir. I have an adopted son and daughter from overseas and have been to that ceremony twice. I cried when they became American citizens. Like you I was awestruck by the people that made there way here and worked to become citizens; my equal in this country.

  • avatar
    skor

    I knew that story about the Argentine Falcon. Did you know that the Falcon also has a Hitler connection?

    In 1924 Hitler got his ass thrown in jail over the so called “Beer Hall Putsch”. The Wiemar government believed in rehabilitation over punishment, and AH spent his time in jail reading books, and writing Mein Kampf. One of the books Hitler read while in stir was a bio on Henry Ford. Adolf was surprised and delighted to find out that ol’ Crazy Henry was an anti-Semite as well.

    After Hitler and his buddies managed to seize power in Germany, Der Fuhrer instructed a talented engineer by the name of Ferdinand Porsche to come up with a Model T for the German people, a people’s car, the Volkswagen.

    After the war the VeeDub got real popular stateside. The VW tapped into a previously ignored market segment. The Beetle was so popular that it could no longer be ignored by US car makers. The Falcon was designed to fill the market niche pioneered by the VW.

    The Falcon was so popular when it was introduce for the 1960 model year, that it held the record for highest number of sales for a new model until it was in turn eclipsed by the Mustang…itself a re-bodied Falcon.

    The Falcon must have one of the greatest ROIs of any auto platform in the history of the car biz. The original US model begat the the Comet, Mustang, Fairlane, Cougar, Maverick, Granada, Monarch, Lincoln Versailles. In addition the original body version was built in South America until the 1990s and one of the longest running model names in Oz.

    Oh, the original Falcon was the brainchild of one Robert McNamara prez of Ford Division at the time. When JFK won the election in 1960, McNamara was wooed away from Ford to become Secretary of Defense. McNamara became the architect of the Vietnam War, and the guy who came up with the “kill ratio”.

  • avatar

    I attended naturalization ceremony in the mid 2000s in San Francisco. At the end of the ceremony they showed us prerecorded greeting from GW Bush and in the middle of speech it was interrupted and some woman came up to the podium and laughingly announced that there are technical problems. It left a bad taste and I try to forget the ceremony since it was only the awkward reminder how divided America is as a country.

    Regarding USSR – I do not remember any “nightmares” in USSR. It was a safer place to be than USA today and I have a fond memories about living there (I was young though). KGB approached me once asking to become informer but I said that I am not interested. Anti-socialist sentiments in the country were widespread and common. There were problems later when USSR ceased to exist but I would not call it nightmares unless you lived in one of the southern republics (which are strikingly similar to South American countries). The only nightmares for me were financial defaults which happened twice while I was there. You would lose all your savings unless you kept it in $$ under mattress. But the same thing may happen in America – in this case I do not see what safe heaven might be.

    Volga was not a “limousine” – it was a midsize car with not much back space. My father used to have one and that is the car I remember riding when I was a kid. It was prestigious though like Mercedes in US today.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Thank you. I hugely appreciate your perspective and willingness to share it.

      America and the USSR were two gargantuan ships that destroyed each other but it’s just taking us longer to sink. And a lot of the explosions that doomed us are internal or from our own “near abroad”, like illegals and drugs, and would have happened anyway.

      Tragic, yes, but talking to someone else in hospice care is very comforting.

      • 0 avatar

        You’re welcome. It is not like USA and USSR destroyed each other – it is more like they influenced each others politically and economically – USA after decades of cold war become more like USSR and USSR become more like USA. It was called the convergence. We always compared ourselves with USA and did not care much about Europe.

        USA over the years adopted elements of socialism despite of denying it and Russia become a capitalist society with elements of socialism as well. In USSR PC was obligatory. You could not say certain things that might insult minorities within USSR or party or leader. You were encouraged to criticize Europeans and Americans though and use any dirty words you want. Third world countries were considered more sacred because they were more likely to be pro-communist not unlike as in USA third world immigration, legal or not, is encouraged because they are more likely to be pro-Democrat.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Again, fascinating.

          The PC coddling of minorities, did that create a backlash against them when the party’s back was turned or after the party fell?

          Had they ever reached the status of a state subsidized underclass as happens so often in democracies? Did they mainstream better than, say, Muslims in Europe?

          Thanks for your patience in considering all these questions.

          • 0 avatar

            Minorities in USSR meant colonized “nations” – much smaller and weaker artificial states. Before the Revolution they were not a nations but ethnic groups like in Roman Empire. Stalin created quasi-nations out of them with artificially set borders, own languages, constitutions, Governments, flags (all of which were variations of the Soviet Communist flag). People were forced to be PC and love each other. Revolution was about liberation and equal rights after all (like all revolutions, initially). But as soon as USSR collapsed all love was gone and conflicts and mutual violence between sovereign “nations” commenced. The lesson for America is that artificially enforced PC ends as soon as enforcement goes away because of economic collapse and hardship. Then expect all that “salad” to blow up and riots and disintegration begin. America was already highly divided country before Obama and “hope and change” only intensified it.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            I see, a very different “minorities” situation indeed. Instead of colonizing peripheral ethnic groups and keeping them mostly dispersed like Stalin, we imported them into the innermost fabric of our society from the very first, beginning with slaves, then promoting migration from the former slave states to the industrial North and finally allowing mass illegal immigration.

            Now Russia is relatively empty while we continue packing in our problems to fester.

            Ever thought of going back before the lid blows off here?

          • 0 avatar

            No, I had seen enough of sovereign defaults already. Every time I make some decent money it gets wiped out by some event out of my control and I have to start over again. I am not sure about America either. Investing in stock market is okay until default makes stocks worthless – ask those who lived in 1920s-30s. It is the closest thing to what happened in Russia in 90s except Russia recovered much faster. After that you have to wait 20 years or so for some stocks to recover, most will be worthless paper just like bonds and cash. I am getting too old for all that sh*t, how many times you have to go through all this. Nobody knows what future holds so I keep my Russian citizenship. All Europeans I know do not even apply for American citizenship, they here to make money and then go back. Sure their children are American citizens by birth but it means that naturalized citizens are only immigrants from the third world and some Eastern European countries. Ethnic European American population does not grow through immigration anymore. It means that in say 100 years the majority of US population will be from the third world countries with all consequences that follow. Democracy and personal freedoms are Western European concepts and are foreign for other cultures. Obama is the first indication of what is coming to America. Will third world get westernized or not only future can tell but right now it does not seem likely.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            I have to reiterate that your viewpoint is unique to me. I’ve never before encountered a Russian who was free to comment outside the strictures of typical American academic PC.

            Your words are like a blast of fresh, cold air into a room thick with fear pheromones from overcrowded, sweating monkeys. With ABDs.

            Thanks again.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I can’t help but think that “artificially enforced PC” is a newspeak term for “civil rights” and “PC backlash” is a thinly disguised cover leading back to racism. Thank you, Inside Looking Out for your unique perspective, in light Russia’s recent policy on gays, I envision a time in the future when people in the US are no longer forced to tolerate each other allowing for civil, race and class warfare to breakout… *sigh*

    • 0 avatar
      Roader

      “In 1976 the Argentine military seized control of the country and most of those who actively opposed its rule were murdered shortly thereafter….an estimated 30,000 people went missing.”

      Some perspective:

      Peoples Republic of China: 73,237,000
      Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: 58,627,000
      Greater German Reich: 12,000,000

      Non-combatant deaths of civilians by murder or starvation.

      http://www.scottmanning.com/content/communist-body-count/

  • avatar
    Tinker

    A dark green Falcon, a 1963 model, will always remind me of my grandmother. It was her last car, and had about 32,000 miles on it. Perfect showroom condition, I wonder what happened to it?

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Ford has always excelled at marketing. The Falcon was the smash hit despite most comparisons placing it last against the Corvair and Valiant.

    Look what Australia did with the Valiant, a HEMI Slant Six:
    http://www.valiant.org/ausval.html

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      The Australian Valiant and more so the Ford Falcon only retained their original names, everything else changed. Eventually both became a lot heavier and larger with much more powerful engines.

  • avatar
    WizardOfAus

    The poor Falcon isn’t so fearsome down under in Australia any more. Its days are numbered. V8s still sell as a niche market, mainly with car-based pick-ups (utes) but the days of V8 and 6 cylinder rear drive family cars ruling the roost have long gone.

    There was a time when every family man worth his salt owned a big sedan or station wagon powered by either a big six or a V8. They were called The Big Three – Ford, General Motors Holden and Chrysler. The rot set in when Chryslers overseas subsidiaries were closed to save the ailing parent company. The Valiant was consigned to history in 1981. Ford and Holden continued developing and selling their family cars over the years, but sales were already dropping by the late 80′s and they continued to drop as the 90′s wore on.

    Beyond 2000, Ford’s Falcon and Holden’s Commodore began selling poorly enough to cause major concern. Ford and Holden phased out their once popular long-wheelbase luxury models (the Fairlane and Statesman).
    By the end of the first decade of the 2000′s, sales of family sedans and wagons continued to plummet.

    Holden currently tells us the Commodore is not being phased out. It is simply being replaced with a short, stubby front-drive sedan. In other words, the venerable Commodore is being phased out and its name is being applied to something that isn’t a true Commmodore.

    As for the Ford Falcon – its production is due to cease in 2016. It seems that in the age of cheap internet air travel, nobody values roomy, powerful sedans and stations wagons in Australia any more. They prefer claustrophobic hatchbacks or four-wheel-drives that never see the dirt.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      More the case small cars, SUV’s and Pickups have taken the place of the large family sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @Denver Mike, Doctor Olds or Robert Gordon (Menzies) former PM of Australia or any other Alias you maybe using.
        Apologies to the Argentinian Falcon people, the dribble from the UAW troll who stalks PUTC and this site will continue on if you reply to him.As he is a paid Guerllia marketeer.He only pushes UAW issues nothing to do about the thread.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      “They prefer claustrophobic hatchbacks or four-wheel-drives that never see the dirt.”

      And why do you thing that is?

      I first of all take issue with your first point – A 1960 Ford Falcon is narrower, lighter and less roomy than a 2013 Ford Fiesta. Whilst a 1979 XD Falcon is narrower, lighter and also less roomy than a 2013 Focus. And have you ever compared a Mondeo to a FG Falcon? The Mondeo is in a different league in terms of spaciousness and practicality.

      As for four-wheel-drives, there is clearly more appeal than just their ability to go off-road. This is most likely the high driving position and load space. A Falcon as a three box sedan is a pretty useless load carrier and just a sick joke when a gas tank is fitted.

      You imply that since very few four-wheel-drives go offroad, they are somehow over specified. The same logic can be applied to the six cylinder Falcon which has a 260hp engine as standard on even the basest of base specs. This vehicle has prodigious towing capability as well as being very quick. However Australia has low and very strictly enforced speed limits and relatively few people regularly tow trailers that would test a Falcon’s ability. With this apparent over specification and questionable practicality it seems to me that people are simply being rational in not buying a Falcon.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        I take issue about how “spacious” the Mondeo is after driving one a week ago.
        Small CUV’s not SUV’s are a ” mighty sick joke” when it come to load carrying and towing. especially CUV’s of about 2 Litres capacity.
        The Six cylinder Falcon is perfectly suited for the tasks it does ( wagon and Ute )towing and hauling. The Territory with the diesel engine built on the Falcon architecture is probably the best thing Ford Australia has ever sold.
        Now the Argentinian Falcon has a dark history I was unaware of.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          If the Falcon where available in AWD would that have changed it’s status from the “perfectly suited” segment to the dreaded CUV phoney posermobile segment?

        • 0 avatar
          Robert Gordon

          “I take issue about how “spacious” the Mondeo is after driving one a week ago.”

          You are actually joking right? I don’t know how tall you are but a Falcon is diabolically cramped in comparison to a Mondeo – at least for the driver of six feet or more. For one the steering wheel doesn’t adjust enough in height or the seat get low enough – the rear bench is barely wide enough for child seats too. Compared to a Mondeo’s hatch, the boot of a Falcon is stupidly inaccessible.

          How are CUV’s a joke when towing and carrying? Sure if you want to tow a boat or a huge caravan or horse float they may struggle – but then again I wouldn’t choose a Falcon for this sort of work either. For a small 6×4 trailer to take stuff to the tip every now and then a CUV is fine. Likewise to do the groceries, carry your dogs and or kids and their sports gear then a CUV is great. You get the lofty driving position, better dynamics and more practical load height and decent fuel economy – this is why people buy them and not Falcons.

          The six cylinder Falcon is not really good at it’s tasks, there are better utes out there and of course there is no wagon (actually the wagon was quite good in concept) – the Holden Sportwagen is by far the best Australian vehicle out there.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “You are actually joking right? I don’t know how tall you are but a Falcon is diabolically cramped in comparison to a Mondeo ‘
            It was a Mondeo Wagon and I felt like a Limbo dancer

            “How are CUV’s a joke when towing and carrying? Sure if you want to tow a boat or a huge caravan or horse float they may struggle – but then again I wouldn’t choose a Falcon for this sort of work either. For a small 6×4 trailer to take stuff to the tip every now and then a CUV is fine”

            IF You ARE from Australia you would know that Falcons tow Light Caravans/Horse Floats as well as Trailers.
            http://www.mynrma.com.au/images/motoring-road-safety/road-safety-towing-caravan.jpg

            http://www.exploroz.com/images/Articles/901_RHSImage__TN800.jpg?62527

            Again IF you are from Australia CUV’s do not tow anything especially tiny 2 litre examples

          • 0 avatar
            Robert Gordon

            A Falcon may tow a horse float or a boat – but anybody who tows such things regularly does so with a 4×4. A Falcons can get seriously sketchy on bad boat ramps and are pretty useless in muddy fields.

            As for towing, a CUV is more than adequate for the vast majority of towing which as I mentioned for most people equates to dragging a light 6×4 you’ve hired from the servo, to take some junk to the tip. Most people do not tow boats or horses.

            “It was a Mondeo Wagon and I felt like a Limbo dancer”

            Far out, have you ever sat in a BA Falcon?

            At the end of the day people buy CUVs because they fulfill their needs and in this respect Falcons have been found wanting.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “As for towing, a CUV is more than adequate for the vast majority of towing which as I mentioned for most people equates to dragging a light 6×4 you’ve hired from the servo, to take some junk to the tip. Most people do not tow boats or horses.”
            You ARE NOT from Australia, you are one of our current UAW trolls.
            2 Litre CUV’s do not tow anything, including small trailers.They are small cars

            “A Falcon MAY tow a horse float or a boat”

            They sure do tow boats and trailers. This is not an and /or question

            “Far out, have you ever sat in a BA Falcon?”

            Yes , Falcons are Taxi’s in Australia (you would not know that)and I can see why you are pushing the Ranger and any new Ford CUV/SUV built in the US.

            Very obvious where you are coming from and repeating
            The same thing ad nauseum is not going to change anything.

          • 0 avatar
            WizardOfAus

            The Aussie six and V8 family cars have been developed to do their tasks brilliantly. That is why they served families well for decades. If they were no good, they would simply have never become popular in the first place.

            Half the problem, as we observed earlier, is their market has shrunk to unviable levels by the proliferation of other vehicle types (SUVs, CUVs, utes and people-movers). The other half of their decline is down to changing fashions. They are an affront to the environmentally-friendly fun police. And in this day and age some find the Falcon and Commodore just not trendy enough. They may seem a bit too ‘bogan’ for the pretentious latte-sipping city set. The mentality of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ is alive and well in Australia.

            Long distance cruising comfort is no longer a big selling point with cheap interstate air travel. The disappearing family sedan and station wagon also drink more and are harder to park, but nowhere near as bad as the Landcruisers I see old folk squeezing into parking spaces at the supermarket. When they come out with two bags of shopping, it’s somewhat akin to firing up a mountain to move a move. Yes, load space is a big selling point as you said earlier. But I doubt most four wheel drive buyers these days need quite that much load space.

            The popularity of four wheel drives that never see dirt are a case of overkill. And that goes double for the mothers taking their kids to school. Curiously, they often cite safety as the main reason for owning something with a high centre of gravity that they struggle to see out of. The smaller CUV isn’t much better. People expect them to handle like road-hugging sedans and wagons and that can get them into strife. Are they rational in not purchasing a Falcon or Commodore? Hardly. They’re just going with what’s fashionable these days. If everybody in their street had a big sedan or station wagon, that’s what they would aspire to.

            I wasn’t aware though that the Mondeo is heavier than an XD series Falcon. And building a small family car that’s heavier than a late seventies dinosaur is nothing for Ford to be proud of. I would have preferred being inside a Falcon in an accident but now I’m not so sure. Do you go for the older, lighter car that insulates you with a bigger body or a smaller, heavier car that’s just the right size to fit underneath a semi?

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Wizard ofAus
            “The Aussie six and V8 family cars have been developed to do their tasks brilliantly. That is why they served families well for decades. If they were no good, they would simply have never become popular in the first place.”

            All of a sudden the UAW trolls appear saying that “cannot be right, if you run a Global Ranger or an (F150, CUV//SUV )all built in the US by UAW labor, then things will be fabulous” Although this is about the ARGENTINIAN FALCON, they have to put in a “product placement” about their products.. Nothing to do with Argentinian or Australian Falcons.

          • 0 avatar
            Robert Gordon

            “You ARE NOT from Australia, you are one of our current UAW trolls.
            2 Litre CUV’s do not tow anything, including small trailers.They are small cars”

            Not sure what I have done to warrant the ad-hom, but I can assure you my Ford Focus tows a 6×4 quite nicely, thus by extrapolation any two-litre CUV sure be more than capable. I agree you wouldn’t want to tow very heavy trailers, but for most people this is not a frequent requirement and certainly not one you’d buy a vehicle as compromised as a Falcon with the sole aim of doing.

            The Ford Ranger is designed in Australia and built in Thailand, so me promoting that would be stretching my supposed UAW allegiance somewhat don’t you think?

            As for coming from Australia, not that I ever said I was, but for the record I personally designed a fair proportion of the FG Falcon front end exterior componentry. I have also been an engineer on the XG, EF, EL and AU cabin venting, closures and sealing systems, BA independent rear suspension, Territory front and rear suspension – so I actually know what I am talking about here.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “As for coming from Australia, not that I ever said I was,”

            That is pretty obvious another UAW troll as I suspected.

            I should post how inadequate the Fseries are.
            As I am as much an expert as you are.

          • 0 avatar
            Robert Gordon

            F-Series fits its market niche most emphatically – as witnessed by the fact they sell squillions of them. The Falcon on the other hand does not. Ford and Holden for that matter laboured for many years under the illusion that people actually wanted big aussie sixes. In truth people never wanted big aussie sixes, they merely through a confluence of unique design rules, tariffs, import taxes, local content rules and market isolation didn’t have much choice.

            Even in the early days little four cylinder cars such as the Morris 1100 would outsell the Falcon – now as many more choices are available through lifting of tarrifs and hormonisation of ADRs with ECE regs has meant the punter is able to make better choices than the tired old formula coming out of Broady. This is very unfortunate since Ford Australia engineers have been very adept at making innovative products from time to time. Examples of this are the Territory and AU Ute (versatile tray on frame – which at the time was a real gamble), both of which essentially saved the otherwise dire Falcon platform.

  • avatar
    Augie the Argie

    Roader just 1 death is one too many….btw still shocked at what is happening in the Middle East. What a great read Thomas. When I pledged allegiance to this country a woman next to me complained while we were watching Bush´s pre recorded speech. Made me laugh a bit, luckily in this country the Nixons, Bushes come and go, unlike in many other places. Your writing is well presented and factual, a delight to read, have to say that I broke emotionally a bit at the end.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Thank you for this story. The yellow Toyota Hi-lux police van comes to mind. In apartheid South Africa those things had a similar role to the Argentinian Falcons.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    After my parents divorced my mother took up boarders to help pay the bills. One of our boarders brother and sister “disappeared” in 1980 – the family knew it was a death sentence. Her green card expired and she went on the run, fearful of deportation.

  • avatar

    Thomas I try never to miss your stuff, and this one is my favorite. Well written.


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