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Used Ford Falcon review: 1992-1993

Before the hot XR6 was unleashed in 1992 fast Fords were V8-powered, so the six-cylinder ‘family’ sports sedan was a surprise to everyone, particularly to those who owned a hot V8. The XR6 was a V8 beater, no doubt about it, but it was much more than that. It was not only fast, it also handled beautifully and was comfortable to boot. Had we known then what we now know about Tickford, now called Ford Performance Vehicles, it wouldn’t have been such a surprise.

The EBII XR6 was the first real glimpse of Tickford’s capability to produce a well-balanced and refined sporting sedan that did everything well. It had often been the case with Aussie-built muscle cars that power was everything. The relentless pursuit of power often came at the cost of handling, ride and comfort, but Tickford brought a European approach which balanced power and road manners to produce a truly fast road car that was still comfortable on a long, fast cross country trip.

Given Ford’s reliance on V8 power for past performance models, perhaps it was surprising that Tickford relied on Ford’s rather harsh six-cylinder as the XR6’s power source, but then the XR6 was marking out new sports sedan territory and the men behind it were well accustomed to hot sixes from their British background.

Another surprise came in the styling, which was neat and attractive, without ever being “look-at-me” in the way of most other Aussie-built muscle cars. But if the XR6 was rather reserved in appearance terms, there was nothing reserved about it when it hit the road where it was a revelation.

MODEL WATCH

The XR6 was based on the EBII Falcon S, a sportier version of the family four-door, but was further upgraded with an array of sporty features.

The engine was the Falcon 4.0-litre single overhead cam unit, an effective but rather harsh and lumbering lump that was anything but impressive in its normal guise in its everyday Falcon cousins.

But this engine had come under the spell of the engineers at Tickford Vehicle Engineering, Ford’s performance partners who’d started working with the men from Broadmeadows in 1991, and was anything but mundane.

By the time Tickford was finished tinkering with the Falcon’s head, cam, valves, valve springs, exhaust system, and electronics the fuel-injected six was slamming out a massive 161 kW at 4600 rpm and 366 Nm at 3650 rpm. And all of that while running on regular unleaded.

It was enough to have the 1529 kg sedan sprinting to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds. The standing 400-metre sprint was covered in 15.5 seconds and it had a top speed of 223 km/h. They were numbers that had the V8 road ragers looking back in horror, but they didn’t tell the whole story, which was that the XR6 had plenty of low end and mid-range punch, which made it very drivable.

Gearbox choices were a five-speed manual and a four-speed auto, which delivered the power to the live axle LSD rear end running a low 3.45 ratio axle that helped it jump out of corners.

Back in 1992 Ford was committed to a live rear axle, but Tickford’s engineers managed to tame it quite effectively with some smart retuning of both ends.

The XR6 rode lower and had a package of gas shocks, stiffer springs, a larger anti-roll bar, front and rear, which coupled with revised front-end settings made the steering precise and responsive and brought an assured balance to the handling.

Despite still having 3.1 turns lock-to-lock the Falcon could be pointed at corners with confidence it would precisely hold its line right through to the exit. There was still some evidence of the roll oversteer associated with the Ford rear end but it would quickly settle under power and hold a steady line through corners.

To match the go power the XR6 was equipped with decent disc brakes at both ends, which worked in tandem with ABS.

The XR6’s rolling stock consisted of 15-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and 205/65R15 Michelin tyres.

Externally the XR6 stood out from the Falcon crowd with body coloured bumpers and mirrors, red rub strip inserts, and a small rear wing.

Inside there were reshaped sports front seats that were more supportive and comfortable than the regular Falcon seats. They had velour facings, and were highlighted with red piping, and there was also a leather-trimmed Momo sports steering wheel and gearshift knob.

IN THE SHOP

All alloy-headed Falcon sixes have a problem with head gaskets. It’s not unusual to blow head gaskets at any time, but they seem to be more prone to it from about 80,000 kays up.

Cylinder head reco experts say there’s a problem with coolant circulation through the head that leads to a steam pocket at the rear of the head, which can then lead to a number of problems, including failure of the cylinder head gasket and cracking of the cylinder head. Some even relieve the problem by tapping into the head an allowing the coolant to flow from the problem area through an external pipe.

There is also a belief that the Falcon’s water pump suffers from cavitation, which diminishes the coolant flow through the engine.

Suspension bushes can be a problem at higher mileage, and require replacement to restore the XR6’s renowned handling.

Fitting wide tyres can lead to tramlining with the Falcon’s front-end set-up, which can be hard work and annoying so be careful about fitting any tyres other than those originally fitted to the car.

Falcon electrics can also be troublesome. Body control modules are a headache and replacements are expensive to replace so check the operation of the car’s system as thoroughly as you can to check that all is well.

Engine oil leaks are also a common problem. Look for leaks from the front cover, power steering pump etc.

OWNERS’ VIEWS

Mark Harris bought his white XR6 new in 1993 and has driven it rather sparingly since. It has just 51,000 kays on the odometer and is driven only on weekends when he enjoys it very much.

Dion Coughlan bought his XR6 three years ago when it had done 175,000 km. He has added another 80,000 km to it since, and says he drives it “hard”, the way it was meant to be driven. It has had a near-death experience when it was hit by a bus, but despite a few rattles Dion says it still performs better than any Commodore of the same era. Apart from minor things like a fan belt, the only things Dion has had to replace are the front suspension bushes.

LOOK FOR:

• great performance from Tickford tuned six

• precise responsive steering

• balanced predictable handling

• neat “who me” styling

• well equipped sports package

• cylinder head problems

• dodgy electrics

 

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
1993 $2,640 $15,180
1992 $2,640 $15,180

View all Ford Falcon pricing and specifications

Pricing Guides

$8,910
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$2,640
Highest Price
$15,180

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GL 4.1L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $3,190 – 5,060 1992 Ford Falcon 1992 GL Pricing and Specs
GL 4.9L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,640 – 4,070 1992 Ford Falcon 1992 GL Pricing and Specs
GLi 4.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,640 – 4,070 1992 Ford Falcon 1992 GLi Pricing and Specs
GT 4.9L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $11,110 – 15,180 1992 Ford Falcon 1992 GT Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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