The Falcon XL, Trim, Taught, Terrific
The XL Falcon
The XL Falcon may have been a minor facelift, but it represented much more to Ford Australia than simply the "Thunderbird Inspired Roofline".
With all the teething issues well and truly sorted, the new model needed to win back the confidence of the Australian motoring public.
In fact, so important was the new model to Ford Australia that it was on the market 2 months prior to its release in the US!
The Ford marketing team needed to convince the public that the problems with the XK were a thing of the past, and the "facelift" XL was "Trim, Taught, Terrific".
Apart from the suspension revisions, the new model featured some additional chrome brightwork along with new badges and roofline. And it was in showrooms two weeks prior to the much anticipated new model from Holden.
The showroom advantage of the XL was short-lived however, with the General's new EJ Holden
coming to market - and now the Falcon had a much more worthy competitor. Completely new, the EJ was a far more modern design to the outgoing EK Holden
model, it sitting lower and featuring a rakish design not that dissimilar to the Falcon.
By now, however, both manufacturers knew that they needed to broaden their model line-up, as Australian's were becoming individualistic, and wanted their car to better reflect their personality. There were plenty of after-market accessories that could be fitted, such as exterior sun visors, wheel trims, chrome and garnishes. But no amount of "tizzing up" would make the humble Falcon luxurious.
The Futura, For The Individual
Enter the Futura, a luxury iteration that expanded upon the theme that had been set by the Falcon Deluxe. To understand just how "different and individual" the Futura was, you would need to step back in a time machine to 1962
. Family cars were, at the time, a rather austere affair, however the Futura was quite different.
Standard fitment included bright red interior trim, bucket seats, carpet, thick padding, full wheel cover trim and a stylish (Detroit inspired) centre console.
No Aussie built car had ever offered such oppulence, except maybe for the Holden EJ Premier, its release coinciding with that of the Futura. Such was the standard kit that there were very few options available for the Futura, except of course for the whitewall tires.
The most obvious external design change was in the "Thunderbird Inspired" roofline, which featured a larger rear pillar and sligh overhang, allowing the rear window to be (almost) entirely flat - a much prettier arrangement to the curved version used on the XK. Up front, the grille was transformed from the XK's convex design to a
new concave style, again it taking the design ethos from the original 1954 Thunderbird. But perhaps the marketing material that accompanied the Futura summed it up best...
"Everything about the Futura says personal - the front bucket seats, inndividually adjustable, are covered in rich, leather like vinyl, ontoured and cushioned for superb comfort. Note the full foam padded dash and elegant trim, combined with full carpeting. Another touch of distinction is the useful storage console smartly placed between the seats.
While this was the first of the Aussie Falcon's to reference the up-market US derived models, it would not be the last, as we will discuss with the "Mustang Bred" XR's. But media hype or not, the XL Falcon
was a great looking car, and very much the "motor of choice" for those looking for something offering great performance, class, style, handling and, best of all, individualism.
Not Everything Worked, aka The Squire Wagon
With the release of the XL, it seemed Ford had the midas touch. Many Australian's were to fall in love with the Falcon, and for good reason - the Falcon was a great car.
And so, thinking everything American would turn to gold, Ford Australia introduced the Squire, an XL Falcon wagon complete with fake wood panel trim. (Those fortunate enough to own a "Woody" today are laughing all the way to the bank, as their collectability is off the scale).
Indeed the XL Falcon Wagon Squire represented the flagship of the Ford range, and cost the then rather hefty price tag of £1314 ($2628) when fitted with the Pursuit engine and Fordomatic transmission. But it wasn't the cost of the Squire that was the problem, rather it was the design, most Australian's finding the design simply too "American" to their taste.
We are sure many US designers at the time were left scrathing their collective heads wondering why the Squire never took off in Australia, particularly given the majority of wagons sold in the US at the time were "Woody's".
Similar to the chequered jackets and loud golf pants popular in America at the time, such fashion never took off in Australia. It seemed we all wanted to copy American styling - to a point. Anything "loud" was a no go zone, and so the Squire struggled at the showroom. And as any classic car collector will tell you today, yesterday's unpopular model is todays highly sought after prize.