Dick Estevez described himself...
Dick Estevez described himself as "the kid looking over the fence" at Phil Bonner's Poppy Red '65 Falcon back in the day. It obviously left quite an impression, as Estevez would team with Bonner years later to build this modern interpretation of the long lost match racer. Used mostly for exhibition today, it's likely our favorite of any current drag race Falcon. This Falcon sports a 600-inch 385-series big-block, allowing Estevez's '65 to run 7.70s at 177 mph.
Brannan would go on to A/FX Mustangs in 1965, while Bonner primarily stuck to the Falcon program with a new '65 he helped build at Holman Moody. Bonner told MM&F that this Poppy Red car was built primarily for match racing, which helped pay the bills far better than sanctioned class competition. The '65 was built from the start with an altered wheelbase and quarter-elliptical front spring suspension to easily accommodate a 427 SOHC. Bonner ran the '65 for about a year and a half, the first 6 months with the Cammer in dual-quad/gasoline configuration, which Bonner says was, "Pretty much the top car anywhere we went." During the last year of competition, the Falcon ran an injected nitro mix, whereupon while faster, it was much less reliable, what with the volatile "fuel."
Made To Restomod!
If you read our pages often, you know we like Falcons for their nice lines, small size, and construction similarities to Mustangs. You also know that we dig on restomods, and so it will come as little surprise that we'd advocate the Falcon as one of the prime restomod candidates in the Ford palate. Particularly considering that a true factory performer was absent for most of Falcon's history, hard chargers must come via modification. The Mustang connection means there are boatloads of performance products, period or current, which can be used to create an impressive machine. Better still, a number of manufacturers have stepped up with Falcon-specific variations of their most popular products-rack-and-pinion steering, coilovers, and brake components to name but a few. With some of our recent Falcon features being among the best efforts ever, it appears enthusiasm for Ford's "bird of prey" is still going strong!
It's no wonder that Falcon sales suffered mightily with the debut of the Mustang in April 1964. The Mustang was a compelling product, the latest and greatest, and subject of an enormous media blitz. Ever wonder then, why the people who bought Falcons after April, particularly two-doors, did so? We've often pondered this question, and while putting this story together, stumbled upon a person who actually made the decision.
Falcons are prime candidates...
Falcons are prime candidates for restomodding, as Al and Trudi Dufek's stunning '631/2 well demonstrates.
Chuck Beason is president of the Falcon Club of America, and still owns the '65 Futura hardtop he bought new in September 1965. Chuck explained to us that at the time, he was in the military, and on a tight budget. He had planned to buy a '65 Dart, but when he arrived at the Dodge dealer, the car he'd planned to purchase had been sold. "I liked Falcons, so I went right over to the Ford dealer and bought a white on red Futura with a 289 and automatic. I'd seen Mustangs, but frankly they just didn't appeal to me." It's a decision he would never regret, though he never planned on owning his Falcon for 45 years. "As time passed, it became worth little in trade-in value, so I just held onto it." Chuck never did climb on the Mustang bandwagon, but eventually got into Falcons in a big way-now owning a total of five '65s, including a Sprint hardtop and convertible.
Those of you wanting to learn more about Falcons, or wishing to connect with fellow owners, should consider joining the Falcon Club of America (www.falconclub.com). Founded in 1979, U.S. dues are a minimal $25 a year, and include an award-winning monthly color newsletter with stories, tech tips, classifieds, and the like. The club hosts an annual national convention, this year celebrating the 50-year anniversary during July 15-17 in Dearborn Michigan. Of course both members and non-members are welcome.
Our trusted Canadian scribe, Dale Amy, filled us in on an anomaly that few Ford fans are aware of-the '65 High Performance 289 Falcon. Never heard of one? Well, that may be because it's believed just seven were produced, and all for the Canadian market. That's right, Hi-Po Falcons were never offered in the States, but Amy has covered a '65 Hi-Po Falcon for one of our sister magazines, and supplied us with the Canadian sales literature that clearly identifies the availability of the "271-hp High Performance Challenger V8." The Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant where Canadian Falcons were built used a different alphanumeric system than in the U.S., thus these Falcons aren't "K-codes," however the other typical Hi-Po accouterments are there-mandatory four-speed, 9-inch rearend, solid lifters, dual exhausts, and so on.
Joe Germann, owner of The Wild Child '65 A/FX Falcon featured elsewhere in this story-an original Hi-Po car itself, shared some additional pertinent info on the Canadian Hi-Pos. According to his research, three of the seven Hi-Po Falcons were immediately prepped for B/FX drag racing, and known as "The Wild Child," "Gold Digger," and "Mr. 289" cars. His research also indicates that a fourth car was drag raced under the "Teacher's Pet" name. The former three cars were equipped with an extensive factory experimental package, which Ford of Canada had assembled for the Falcon hardtop. In a letter, which Ford of Canada Performance Advisor John Philipps sent to NHRA national tech director Bill Dismuke, the B/FX package was articulated to include fiberglass hoods, fenders, doors, and bumpers, Plexiglas windows, and a host of engine modifications.
Parts And Pieces
Benefitting from a supercharger...
Benefitting from a supercharger market propelled by late-model performance cars, Jeff Boettcher applied a Paxton Novi to the 331ci mill in his '64 Futura, as well as Total Control's rack-and-pinion and coilover front suspension. Such restomod products make for a driving experience that is far beyond pedestrian.
If there's a downside to being a Falcon enthusiast, it's that parts don't exactly grow on trees. That said, reproduction pieces continue to be introduced, and N.O.S. stuff is intermittently out there-for a price! While not meant to be a complete list, the following companies can be valuable sources for Falcon
Auto Krafters Inc.
Mac's Antique Autoparts
Melvin's Classic Ford
Obsolete and Classic
Special thanks go out to several people who lent their time and expertise to this compilation. They include veteran racers Phil Bonner, Dick Brannan, Dick Estevez, and Walt Hane, Falcon Club of America President Chuck Beason and member Joe Stowe, and fellow writer Dale Amy. Thanks guys!
The Motor Makes It!
Sharp-eyed readers will recognize...
Sharp-eyed readers will recognize this engine bay from our recent March 2010 spread on Jay and Jeff Page's '63 Falcon wagon. The underhood view is out of this world, but the engine is the subject of our real affection, what with a 527-horse Roush 427-inch small-block with stack EFI.
A big focus of any great ride, the engine setup in a Falcon can be one that really separates a given car from the crowd. Here are several we're gaga over:
Could the 427 SOHC be the...
Could the 427 SOHC be the most iconic Ford performance engine of all time? In many ways, yes, and in a Falcon, there just isn't anything better. Cammers were seen in a smattering of Factory Experimental-style Falcon's back in the day, including this one, the Wild Child '65 A/FX car; built and campaigned out of Rankin Ford in London, Ontario.
The engine compartment in...
The engine compartment in Michael Eisenberg's '631/2 isn't full of flash, rather it's incredibly fast. Limited by Historic Trans-Am series rules, this old-school 289 relies on 13:1 compression, vintage iron GT40 heads, a flat tappet Engle cam, dual 415-cfm Holleys, and runs like a scalded dog in vintage competition. Call this one the little engine that could-try 485 horsepower at 7,600 rpm and 392 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm.
When it comes to big-blocks...
When it comes to big-blocks and Falcons, an FE is certainly what we like to see in a classic-style build. However, Danny Tyner's '63 is anything but a classic-style build, and so who'd complain about the twin turbo/EFI 501-inch 385-series beast under the hood? This is one masterfully engineered assembly, and it's no show queen either. Danny says the roughly 1,200-horse combination has propelled him to 8.70s at 157 mph.