The cars we loved.
In the States, the Ford Falcon was a respectable, if not homely compact car that was probably best known as being the platform that spawned the Mustang. While Ford discontinued the Falcon here after 1970, in Australia, it was beginning to reach its stride. While closely following its American counterpart in overall design, it evolved in to a popular sedan with an impressive high performance variant called the GT.
Film lovers might recall scenes from the first two Mad Max films featuring Falcon XA and XB sedans and later the famous black 73 XB Pursuit Special (called the Interceptor in the film). They embodied the muscle car trends that existed in tandem with what was happening in America during the late 60’s to early 70’s. Now fast forward about 35 years and 3 generations later and the Falcon line of cars has matured into somewhat sophisticated sport touring sedans. Throughout the Falcon’s history, Ford identified various trim levels with a simple two letter designation.
By the start of the sixth generation there were only three trim levels compared to six in previous years. The sportiest of these was usually a BF XR6 model with its 250 hp turbocharged V6. The XR6 was a capable car, being described by Motor Trend magazine in 2008 as being “sweet handling, spacious and tastefully restrained in appearance”. It was slotted in Fords line up in much the same way our Taurus is. They are similar sized and at one point resembled each other. We had our SHO versions of the Taurus and they had theirs for the Falcon.
In 2007 Ford’s Australian special performance wing called Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV), released a limited edition Cobra GT edition of the Falcon. Only 400 cars were produced, most as a sedan and some as a ute (Australia is infatuated with car based pickups). The Cobra was anything but subtle with its racing stripes and BOSS 302 decal invoking the famous Cobra XBs of the seventies. Rolling on 19 in wheels and tires with aggressive bodywork, the Cobra was not to be confused with any other car. Its biggest distinction was under the hood in the form of a Boss 302 V8. The American inspired power plant displacing 5.4 liters, produced 405 hp, double the power of the 1978 Cobra from which it was inspired.
Controlling all that power to the rear wheels was a ZF six speed automatic or manual. The R-Spec suspension increased damping response and steering feel while producing tolerable ride quality. The Cobra sedan featured a fully independent suspension, while the ute version had an old fashioned live axel at the rear. Critics of the car noted that for its asking price of AU$60,000 (about U.S. $40,000) if felt a bit unrefined and even said it was more like a Falcon with just a lot of added kit (English for options). The lack of refinement carried over into minor trim details like uneven gaps and trim pieces that were either loose or had fallen off according to Edmunds Automotive’s inside Line. Either way, in keeping with the spirit of the original Falcon Cobra, keeping the focus on the engine seemed appropriate, even at the cost of overall refinement. The lack of polish may have been the reason Ford never exported the car outside of Australia, as its quality in the States had improved and public perception would have been damaged by issues with a car so expensive. It would have been interesting if Ford had decided to sell the Falcon in America to counter the Pontiacs G8. Now that the G8 is gone, the market for such cars here proved that big V8 power was best suited for SUV’s and all out sports cars.