America wanted smaller cars and the automotive manufacturers responded. Chevrolet introduced the Corvair, Chrysler responded with the Plymouth Valiant, Studebaker sold the Lark and AMC had the Rambler. Not to be left behind, Ford introduced the Falcon.
The first generation Falcon was introduced in 1960, small by American standards, but mid-sized in other markets. The Falcon was small comparatively lightweight unibody design. It was powered by a 90 hp, 144 CID (2.4 L) straight 6 engine with a single-barrel carburetor and had a standard suspension, coil springs in front and leaf springs in the rear. Drum brakes were used on all wheels. A three-speed manual column shift was standard with an optional two-speed Ford-O-Matic automatic available .
The Falcon offered room for six passengers in reasonable comfort. It was available as a two or four door sedan, two or four door station wagon, or a car-based pickup called the Ranchero. A Mercury offered the Falcon based Mercury Comet midway through the 1960 model year.
Changes for the 1961 model year included an optional 101 hp, 170 CID (2.8 L) six cylinder engine, and two new models: the Futura, a higher trim level with bucket-seats and console, and a sedan delivery. In Ford advertising, the Falcon claimed an average of 30mpg, quite impressive considering some full-sized sedans of the day got around 9 mpg.
1962 brought a Squire model four-door station wagon with faux wood trim on the sides. The Futura model was offered with a slightly upgraded interior, factory installed safety belts, different side trim emblems. The 2-door Futura sedan sported a flat rear window in place of the earlier model’s panoramic rear window. Midway through the model year, Ford adopted a Thunderbird type design for the roof line at the back window. The Falcon also offered a 4-speed transmission for the first time. Also in 1962, Ford introduced a 8-passenger, flat-front, van as the Ford Falcon Club Wagon and Deluxe Club Wagon.
Ford expanded the Falcon lineup even more in 1963. Now there was a 4-door Futura and a Deluxe wagon. Later in the model year, convertibles and then hardtops, and the new “Sprint” model were introduced. Halfway through the model year, the Fairlane’s 164 hp “Challenger” 260 CID (4.3 L) eight cylinder engine was offered as an option for the first time.
For other small cars of this era, see our feature on the 1964-1967 Plymouth Barracuda.