A Ford Falcon in a parking lot represents good design but unpleasant memories from decades ago

When I was a kid, the first generation Ford Falcon wasn’t my thing. Back then, except for the Thunderbird, I disliked the entire Ford range from 1960 through 1963. Dearborn tried hard, with justification, to be the antithesis of General Motors and Chrysler, which adorned their cars with airplane, rocketship, and space-satellite images. Ford went instead for smooth and uncluttered.

Today I’ve developed a taste for the first-gen, rather like the strawberries (too tart) that also plagued me as a kid. More preferable, though, is the comprehensive styling change of 1964. The ’64 and ’65 series had minor trim differences between them like grille and wheel covers. Overall they represent a high point in the entire series, which lasted through 1971. By that time, Ford had introduced the Pinto and Maverick and eliminated the Falcon.

Going out on a limb, I’m proclaiming the present example, found in a Trader Joe’s parking lot, to be a 1965 edition Falcon Futura six-passenger convertible in Dynasty Green.

The factory price was $2,428. My reference book says that some 6,191 examples were made. There were another 124 with front bucket seats. The Futura Sprint subseries was made in the quantity of 300.

There was also a Falcon Futura Sprint with front bucket seats, wire wheel covers, and a 289-cubic-inch V-8.

One problem in correctly identifying the car is that Futura models had a unique emblem on the front fender. So I’m stumped. And I assume our present car has a six-cylinder engine because the V-8 had a unique emblem. I would have hung around waiting for the owner, but nature was calling and I had to get inside the store to find the restroom. TJ’s has two of them available, and they’re decorated with excellent murals that are well worth seeing in case you’re ever in the neighborhood

When I was eleven, my father came home with a ’65 Falcon Futura Sprint hardtop in Phoenician yellow–one of 300 made. It was just a year old with low miles and equipped with the 289 V-8 and automatic transmission. A nice enough car, although he was far more excited about it than I was.

Around 1968, when he quit racing on the local ovals, he did a power train swap and put the ported 289 V-8 and three-speed manual transmission from his race car into the Falcon. He cut through the floorpan in order to accommodate the stick shift. It made no sense to assault a smooth-running car and make it hard to drive, no thanks to the newly installed clutch pedal that required about 40 pounds of effort to depress.

After getting a two-barrel carb, the car became mine to drive during high school in 1971. Holding the clutch pedal down while waiting at a red light would cause my left leg to spasm; I finally figured out to shift into neutral and keep my right foot on the brake.

A series of mechanical failures occurred: power-steering pump, alternator … always something. I was from the first generation of car lovers who preferred appliance-like reliability and longevity to continual rehabilitation. There was nothing romantic about banging around under the suspension with a wrench on a 26-degree day and smacking my greasy knuckles against something solid.

After high school, I did a burnout and broke an engine mount, a result that provoked fury before it got fixed (by him).

When I could, I moved on to my own car. My younger brother inherited the Falcon, but by then I’d transferred to the state university. What I later learned was that, after another of the car’s breakdowns, this one occurring a few blocks from home, and presumably after my brother’s insufficient effort to repair it, our father attacked the car with a sledgehammer, breaking all the glass and damaging the body. Violence was a typical closing statement for him.

The Falcon disappeared, and nothing more was ever said of it.

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