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A Late Sprint

Mid-year Falcon more than Mustang’s Foundation

Harvey Schwartz - January 03, 2013 10:30 AM

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For some, the claim to fame for the Ford Falcon is being the forebearer to the original 1964 Mustang. There’s a lot more to this car than that.

In 1960, the Falcon was one of several cars on the front wave (Chevrolet Corvair/Plymouth Valiant) in a shift in the marketplace to smaller, more economical American cars. While the Falcon was arguably the most conservative of the three, it soon established itself as the leading seller of this new segment.

From the beginning, the Falcon was named “The New Size Ford”, and was promoted for its economy, both at the pump (with mileage figures as high as 30 mpg) and in price. As a result, performance was left at the side of the road. The only engine being offered was a 144 cubic inch inline six that made just 90 horsepower.

With American ingenuity, it didn’t take long for performance minds and hands to take advantage of the little size and weight of a compact, transforming it into a performance machine that could never be realized in a two-ton full-size sedan or coupe. Things changed for the better in 1963 when Ford introduced the Falcon in a convertible guise. Better news was ahead in the 1963½ model with the new semi-fastback two-door hardtop, the first Falcon with a 260 V-8 and the sporty Sprint package.

John Olsen is the proud owner of this beautifully detailed and performance-driven rare 1963½ Ford Falcon Sprint. While not the original owner, John has made several improvements to the car, making it a real looker with 12 coats of custom paint, polished chrome trim pieces, bright chrome Cragar 14x7-inch front and 14x8-inch rear wheels that are wrapped with BFGoodrich T/A performance tires (185/65R14 up front and 225/80R14 inch in the rear).

At the back, you’ll notice a less restrictive Flowmaster custom dual exhaust system with two round chrome-tipped exhaust pipes that belch out a mighty roar when you push on the throttle. It gives following vehicles something to think about when they try to pull out and get in front of this very rare Falcon Sprint.

While the Sprint’s factory 260 was good for 165 horsepower, a 289 V-8 was better, swapped in from an early Mustang. With engine upgrades, this customized Falcon Sprint now makes about 210 to 220 horsepower. John added a 670 cfm Holley carburetor with a pair of custom headers from Doug’s Headers helping exit the hot gases more efficiently. The chrome Weiand valve covers were installed before John became the latest owner and they really dress up the engine beautifully. The factory four-speed manual remains, but John added 3.80 gears and a stronger G-Force clutch.

The suspension was upgraded with new custom bearings, rubber grommets, ball joints and gas-charged shocks. The front brakes now wear nine-inch ABS custom steel disc brakes clamped with dual-piston calipers for extra stopping power.

On the inside, it is mostly stock with the odometer reading 53,958 original miles. John added new vinyl seat covers, a Grant custom GT steering wheel and custom Falcon floor mats.

When John takes his stunning 1963½ Ford Falcon Sprint to car shows in south Florida, it immediately draws a crowd. It was a signal from Ford that more exciting times were ahead in the world of small compact coupes — possibly an all-new vehicle called Mustang, which caught the auto world by surprise when it was debuted by Lee Iacocca at the New York World’s Fair in early 1964. It wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of the Falcon.

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