The Falcon XM featured crisp, clean lines...
A Facelift, Aussie Style
The XM Falcon was the last of the "droopy nosed" Falcon's, and what a Falcon it was. Better looking, better equipped, better handling. The marketing team went from the XL's "Trim, Taught, Terrific" theme to one of "Golden Quality", no doubt their change of pace reflecting the now mature status of the Ford.
In profile, as you can see from the image at left, the XM Falcon
featured crisp, elegant lines, the seeming higher waistline accentuated by the placement of a chrome trim running the length of the car, from tail light to near the front headlights, positioned only a few inches below the door handles.
There was no doubting the changes were very tasteful, however there was an even more made over Falcon on offer from the US based Ford stylists. Ford Australia management, and in particular Wallace (Wally) Booth, thought the American sheet metal to be "glitzy", and how right they were. No doubt they had learned their lesson well following the lack of sales of the XL Squire.
Certified Golden Quality, £1,000,000 In Development
The all new grille, that featured both vertical and horizontal bars, was certainly not the end of the story. Far more important was the extra effort Ford were putting in to the chroming process.
The new chrome underwent what Ford described as a "multi step plating process", which consisted of four coats, copper, semi bright nickel, bright nickel and chromium, all done in an effort to improve corrosion resistance.
Getting the Falcon right for Australia was Ford's top priority, and their committment to quality didn't just stop at the chrome plating process. In fact, over £1,000,000 was spent on the new model Ford.
The suspension was tougher, the service intervals were increased to 6000 miles, the interior received a major make-over and used better quality materials.
The rust-proofing was far improved too, while a full flow oil filter headed the list of mechanical improvements.
There was higher specification oil used in the Fordomatic transmission, bigger axle shafts, stronger engine mounts, better paintwork and much better performance on offer, particularly for those that optioned the 200ci Super Pursuit engine. (We suggest you check out the Ford Falcon XM Technical Specifications for a full run down on the performance gains).
The Toughest Falcon Yet
By now, Ford were confident the Falcon could handle the toughest of Aussie roads, particularly given they had spent the previous 3 years subjecting the car to some of the worst roads on offer across the continent.
It may have seemed as though the Ford marketing team were making grandious claims, but in the case of the XM Falcon
they were all true. Quoting from a brochure on the XM..."This brochure tells you what we at Ford have done to improve Falcon's quality, durability and dependability. How today, it its price class, Falcon is the finest example of modern design and engineering, and demonstrates that there is no better value-for-money available at any price.
So great is the aggregrate of quality and durability improvements and innovations that we descrive the 1964 Falcon as having 'Golden Quality'. This brochure certifies and describes some of the many product improvements, refinements, materials and design factors unused in the production of previous Falccn models - and, in many cases, unused in the production of any other Australian built car.
Togther with all the other factors of the Falcon's modern design, they provide new and extra margins of motoring enjoyment and a lower cost of ownership. We feel sure there's a Falcon made exactly right for your taste, purpose and pocketbook. And, because the're all built to a 'Golden Quality' standard, you will learn - whichever Falcon you choose - that it will bring you lasting satisfaction and solid worth". It all sounded great, but one wonders what the knock-on effect was to resale values of the XK and XL models".
Ghosts Of The Past, Redressed By The Hardtop
But despite the best efforts of the PR guys, Ford were unable to get a foothold into the fleet market, something that was going a long way to helping Holden retain their Number #1 sales position.
It seemed the reliability problems encountered with the XK and XL were still very much in the minds of the fleet purchasers, and there was little Ford could do in the immediate term to change their minds. Bill Bourke would get that sorted, but that was with the release of the XP Falcon
So it seemed, for the XM anyway, that Ford needed to appeal to the private purchaser. And that wasn't such a bad thing either, given the Ford's were now arguably far more individualistic than their brethren over at the General.
No model epitomised this more than the 2 door hardtop, although we doubt too many purchasers at the time would have realised they were buying an "instant classic".
Available as either a Deluxe or Futura, the hardtop was without doubt the most sporting locally made car yet, and few would have realised at the time that it was positioning Ford in the "performance" category, but such legends would have to wait until the XT. The hardtop came standard with the Pursuit engine, with the Super Pursuit optional.
Soon the hardtop was accounting for 10% of sales, not bad given the conservative nature of the Australian buyer, and the fact that 2 doors were never as versatile as 4 for the family man (and remember, this was the era of the Baby Boomers).
There is little doubt then that if former IOC president
Juan Antonio Samaranch were asked to comment on the XM Falcon
, he would declare it "The Best Falcon Ever". The only question was, could future models improve on such a great formula. You bet.