Jim Smart
March 30, 2007

When we sit behind the '68 Falcon's steering wheel, it's hard not to notice a change in instrumentation. For '66-'67, Falcon had a twin-pod instrument panel similar to Mustang and Cougar. For 1968, Ford had to tighten its corporate belt strap due to an unfortunate and nasty three-month UAW strike that crippled the company-it had to cut costs. The '68-'70 Falcon instrument panel is shared hardware with the Torino and Fairlane, giving us the feeling of dj vu every time we see one. What makes the Falcon better for 1968 is improved safety features like side marker lamps and reflectors, a collapsible steering column, shoulder harnesses, and more. Ford improved quality, too-ironic considering the UAW's attitude at the time. Labor tensions made it challenging for Ford to build a good car in 1968.

What makes this car great fun to drive is its simple approach to the road. We like shifting an old three-on-the-tree column shift. It's more fun than banging gears with a floor-shift five-speed, and it takes us back to when we were first learning to drive nearly 40 years ago. Most of us baby boomers reflect on learning to drive the family's second car with a column shift, clashing gears, stalling the engine, and other like experiences, with Dad in the passenger seat grabbing the dashboard. Driving a column-shift Falcon coupe helps the Keatings relive the classic '60s, reminiscing over a time we wish we could live through again, even if only for a day.

The Details
'68 Falcon sports coupe
Owners: Gary and Sandra Keating, Gilbert, AZ

Rearend
8-inch
3.00 gears

The Falcon's interior became more vanilla for 1968, sharing instrumentation with the Torino and Fairlane. New for '68 was the collapsible steering column-an important safety feature.

Engine
289ci 2V V-8
4.030-inch bore, 2.870-inch stroke
1M cast-iron crankshaft
Forged C3OE I-beam connecting rods
Cast 4.030-inch oversize pistons
Cast-iron heads with hardened exhaust-valve seats
Autolite 2100 2V carburetor
Autolite dual-advance, single-point ignition

Transmission
Ford RAN manual three-speed

Exhaust
Stock single exhaust

Suspension
Front: Stock coil spring over upper arm, gas shocks
Rear: Stock four-leaf spring, gas shocks

Brakes
Front: Stock drum
Rear: Stock drum

Wheels
Front: Steel, 14x511/42
Rear: Steel, 14x511/42

Tires
Front: Custom radial, P195/75R14
Rear: Custom radial, P195/75R14

Interior
Burgundy Futura vinyl

Exterior
Falcon sports coupe trim, Candyapple Red paint