When Henry Ford II announced Project Falcon to shareholders on May 21, 1959, few could have guessed that Ford’s compact rival for the Volkswagen Beetle would be transformed into an Australian icon by the late ’60s.
Watch Falcon's 50th anniversary behind the scenes video series
In the most successful launch in automotive history (at least until Mustang), Ford sold 435,676 Falcons in America in its first year. Australian sales began in September 1960. After a troubled start, that original Falcon was thoroughly re-engineered for local conditions.
Click here to read the 72 page eBook on Falcon's 50th anniversary
It was the beginning of a long-term strategy, under an assertive and bold local management, that would see a home-grown proving ground, much-expanded R&D centre – including a styling studio – a successful racing history directly tied to the GT muscle sedan … all for the ongoing development of truly indigenous Australian cars.
By the time the Americans decided to end Falcon production in late 1969, Ford Australia was deeply into the creation of a uniquely Australian model. That XA was the first of six Australian generations, culminating in today’s FG, the best Falcon ever.
So far Ford Australia has produced almost 3.5 million Falcons, a staggering achievement. Now, 50 years on, let’s celebrate a great Australian car.
Make sure you grab a copy of the bumper July edition of Wheels, featuring a compelling history of the Ford Falcon in this its 50th anniversary year. Wheels documents the story of this uniquely Australian car, from the early days of the fragile XK Falcon and subsequent grueling reliability trials, to the glory days of Allan Moffat’s victory at The Mountain in the thundering Phase III GT-HO, and much more beyond.
In the market for a new car? Check out Australia's Best Value Cars.
Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.
Want free access to 5 years of Wheels archive content? Sign up now!