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Used Ford Falcon review: 1966-1968

It wouldn't be until the XR model in 1966 that the Ford Falcon would win the respect of local car buyers.

The Falcon made an inglorious entry to the Australian market in 1960 when the front-end of the XK was found to be too weak to stand up to the tough Australian conditions.

Ford quickly swung into action and beefed up the XK's sagging suspension, but by the time it reacted the Falcon's image was already tarnished in the eyes of Australian motorists.  It wouldn't be until the XR in 1966 that the Falcon would win the respect of local car buyers.

The XR Falcon also saw the introduction of the GT model, which went a long way to convincing sceptical Australians that Ford had fixed the suspension problems when it swept to victory at Bathurst in 1967.  Today, the Falcon GT is a standout in the classic car world, attracting high prices from collectors, but for those who can't afford a GT the XR still represents a neat classic car.


The XR was the first of the second generation Falcon in Australia, and as such as a clear step away from the model that caused so much heartache for average Aussie motorists.  It was bigger all round, had the option of a V8 engine, and the safety of disc front brakes.

Ford' marketing men, keen to get away from the disasters of the past, promoted it as the 'Mustang Bred Falcon', hoping to tap into the raging success of the Mustang in its homeland.  There were many similarities with the Mustang, it had similar long nose short tail proportions to those of the Mustang, and there was the distinctive kick up at the back doors.

If it wasn't quite a Mustang, the new Falcon was heavily based on the American Falcon.  The XR extracted the Falcon from the '50s and firmly planted it in the 1960s with a clean, contemporary look that is still attractive today.

Ford offered three engines, two sixes and a lone V8. There was the 170 cu. In. (2.78-litre) that powered the base model to the tune of 83 kW and 214 Nm, the optional 200 cu. In. (3.28-litre) Super Pursuit with 90 kW and 258 Nm, and the mighty 289 cu, in. (4.74-litre) V8 with 149 kW and 382 Nm that breathed new life into the local car market.

Buyers of the 170 cu. In. engine could have it with a three-speed column-shift manual or the 3S three-speed auto; those choosing the Super Pursuit could also have it with the three-speed manual, but also had the choice of the 3S auto or the Cruisomatic, while V8 buyers only had the option of the Cruisomatic.

By today's standards the XR's performance was pathetic, but in its day it was quite a goer.  A V8 sedan would get to 100 km/h in around 10 seconds and sprint through the standing 400-metre dash in a fraction over 17 seconds.

The Falcon range started with the sedan and wagon, and then moved up to the 500 variants, to the Fairmont, which topped the list of regular models.  Standard features were few across the range, Ford's marketing men preferred to leave it to the buyer to choose what they wanted. It was a neat ploy aimed at forcing them to spend more at showroom.

The Fairmont had the most features, with things like a heater/demister, plush carpets on the floor, reversing lights, woodgrain dash and extra exterior brightwork.


First and foremost look for rust. Rust could be expected in the floor, the boot floor, the doors, the rear doglegs and the guards. If you care to dig even deeper you're almost sure to find rust in the torque box, but that's going to the extreme and probably not warranted.

After rust you should look for crash repairs. Any car that has been on the road for 40-plus years is almost certain to have been in a fender bender, perhaps more than one.  If you're keen on a Fairmont make sure it's got all the external mouldings, and that they are in good condition. Repairing damaged mouldings, or finding replacements is very difficult.

One you've cleared the body look at the mechanical condition.  Engines and gearboxes are quite robust, but after 40 years expect wear in vital mechanical components.

Apart from the cost, rebuilding them isn't a problem; parts are readily available and quite affordable.  Having an XR professionally restored is expensive, but the good news is that they are a simple car and easy to work on. In short they're perfect for the amateur restorer.


Airbags were still in the experimental stage when the XR was launched; state-of-the-art safety then came in the form of a big solid body, power-assisted disc front brakes, optional radial ply tyres and lap seat belts.  For a few extra bucks you could have the extra protection of lap-sash seat belts.


Fuel was cheap, performance was a priority, and so fuel economy wasn't uppermost in the minds of most motorists in the '60s.
The fuel economy ranged from around 12 L/100 km for a six to 16 L/100 km for the V8.


* Classic chrome style
* Mustang-bed looks
* Choice of six or burbling V8
* Plenty of room for the family
* Affordable and fun


The XR is one of the great Falcons from the 1960s; it's affordable to buy, easy to work on, and great fun to drive.


70/100 (classic)


Year Price From Price To
1968 $1,980 $4,070
1967 $1,980 $4,070
1966 $1,980 $4,070

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Range and Specs

(base) 2.4L, Leaded, 3 SP MAN $2,640 – 4,070 1966 Ford Falcon 1966 (base) Pricing and Specs
Deluxe 2.8L, Leaded, 3 SP MAN No recent listings 1966 Ford Falcon 1966 Deluxe Pricing and Specs
Futura 2.8L, Leaded, 3 SP MAN No recent listings 1966 Ford Falcon 1966 Futura Pricing and Specs
(base) 2.4L, Leaded, 3 SP MAN $2,640 – 4,070 1966 Ford Falcon 1966 (base) Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist


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