Five weird and unsuccessful Ford Falcons you might like to collect
The now-departed Aussie Ford Falcon has many desirable and collectable models in its oh-so-close-to-60-year history; not all of them are the performance versions.
It's obvious that the hot models are the ones that tend to become truly sought-after, so let's ignore those. Along with the rest of the 1960s and 1970s classics. Too predictable. Sometimes the oddballs and failures also become sought-after, simply because of their rarity and novelty value.
So here are some relatively modern Falcons that we reckon could be worth storing away.
Unloved and largely ignored, the first and only Falcon powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine was also easily one of the sweetest handling, most refined Falcons to ever roll out of the factory. Certainly not short on power, the 179kW engine also produced an impressive 353Nm of torque at a relatively low 2500rpm, meaning it was just 16kW and 38Nm down on the 4.0-litre inline six. It was actually quicker to 100kmh.
But it's the superb handling the much lighter turbo-four afforded the Falcon that should make it a future classic. With sharp turn-in and a wonderfully responsive nature, the EcoBoost Falcon suggested that, just maybe, those more powerful, but big and heavy sixes and V8s in the Falcon's nose were holding it back.
Why might it be collectable? Hardly anyone bought one, partly because the large sedan market was rapidly dying, but also because traditional Falcon buyers just couldn't get their heads around the idea of a four-cylinder one. No matter how good it actually was.
The success of the Falcon-based Territory SUV inspired FPV to give the performance SUV segment a crack back in 2008 with the brilliantly wild F6X. With the FPV-tweaked version of the Falcon's 4.0-litre turbo inline six producing 270kW of power and 550Nm of torque, serious performance was obviously going to be on offer.
But it is not the prodigious performance that will make the F6X collectable. Nope, it's the fact that it was a sales disaster. The F6X, while regarded as a thoroughly excellent vehicle, just appeared at the wrong time. It never quite looked different enough from a standard Territory and the F6X was further hobbled by FPV itself: three months after its release, the company replaced the turbo six in its sedans with a more powerful 310kW/565Nm version, while Ford wound the considerably cheaper XR6 Turbo up to 270kW and 533Nm. So, just 12 months after it appeared, the F6X was quietly dropped after FPV decided it didn't want to spend the money to keep it inline with the facelifted Territory.
Why might it be collectable? Apart from its performance, the fact that just 229 were built. Those numbers do actually make it rarer than the legendary XY Phase III GTHO.
When it came time to design an XR8 version of the controversial AU Falcon, Ford's designers had obviously decided it was all going to end badly anyway, so they just doubled down on the weird.
From the droopy nose that sprouted four round headlights, giving the already confused AU a startled demeanour, to the tour-de-force of weirdness sitting on the boot - a superbly silly optional double-decker spoiler - the AU XR8 was sublimely bizarre. Everything about the body additions seemed to magnify the AU's worst styling sins and, oddly, made it all work better. Significantly, while Ford rushed to tweak the rest of the AU range's styling, the XR8 was little-changed through the AUII and AUIII updates.
Why might it be collectable? Sheer, unapologetic weirdness.
Sticking with the AU for a while, one of the rarer and most contemporarily unloved versions of the New-Edge-design model was the all-new entry level car - the Forte. Replacing the GLi at the bottom end of the range, the Forte was also the car that bore the brunt of AU hatred upon its launch.
Sitting on steel wheels with deeply unstylish plastic covers, the Forte also proudly wore the much-reviled "waterfall" grille that was banished with the AUII facelift just two years later. Ford's desire to have more visual differentiation between its various spec levels led to the various grilles across the AU range, with the Forte's waterfall grille being the most hated. Although the ute's "egg crate" grille was a close second.
Why might it be collectable? It was loathed upon launch and avoided like the plague, so there probably aren't a lot of them around today. Rarity+weirdness=potential collectability! One day. Probably a very long time from now.
XH PANEL VAN
Much like the ute, the Falcon panel van limped along for years, simply getting the new generation nose grafted onto an increasingly ancient body. This inevitably led to the odd situation that was the "XH" Falcon of 1996. The XH was a refresh of the XG range, which itself was simply the ute and panel van from the XF era with new noses and equipment.
This meant that the 1999 XH panel van was essentially a 15-year-old vehicle with a strangely mismatched modern nose jammed onto it. While the ute still sported XR6 and XR8 versions, by this stage of its life the panel van was relegated to being a basic tradesman's workhorse, meaning no cool, instantly collectable performance or "Surferoo'' versions for the old XH. Which is a shame, because that would have been awesome!
Why might it be collectable? Again, numbers. Ford hardly sold any in 1999 and then it was dropped. And it was still the last of a line of one of the greatest vehicles of all time - the legendary Aussie panel van.
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