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The Ford Falcon is a full-size car which has been manufactured by Ford Australia since 1960. Each model from the XA series of 1972 onward has been designed, developed and built in Australia and/or New Zealand, following the phasing out of the American Falcon of 1960–71 which had been re-engineered locally for the harsher Australian conditions. As a result of the longevity of its Australian production, the Falcon is one of the biggest selling names in world automotive history, selling over 3,000,000 in six generations to 2003, almost exclusively in Australia and New Zealand.

First generation (1960–1966)

During the 1950s, Ford's Australian sales were faltering due to the popularity of the Holden which did not have an effective competitor. Ford assembled the British Zephyr and its Consul and Zodiac derivatives. However, while these cars were moderately successful and had a good reputation, Ford could not match Holden's price, and so sales suffered. One of the reasons for the price difference was the higher cost of imported parts, which were subject to an import tariff. Ford also assembled Canadian-sourced Ford V8 models, but these cars were in a higher price category, putting them out of reach of the average buyer.

Hence, Ford decided to commence local production of a Holden challenger. Initially they intended to produce the Zephyr, using expensive dies they would need to purchase from Ford of Britain. However, during a visit to Ford headquarters in Detroit in 1958, they were shown the new Falcon, which was being prepared for its US launch. Immediately, the executives were attracted to the new car- it was about the same size as Holden, but it was low, long, wide and modern. The width allowed it to accommodate 6 people, and a 2-speed automatic transmission was available. Besides all this, Ford Australia felt they had more experience building North American cars. Hence they decided to make Falcon their new Australian car. In 1959, Ford built a factory at Broadmeadows, a suburb of Melbourne, for local production of the North American Ford Falcon. The factory was designed in Canada, and had a roof which would facilitate dispersal of snow - notwithstanding the fact that snow does not usually fall in Melbourne.

XK

1961 Ford XK Falcon Deluxe sedan. at the 2011 NSW All Ford Day, at Eastern Creek Raceway, Sydney. PM

1961 Ford XK Falcon Deluxe sedan. at the 2011 NSW All Ford Day, at Eastern Creek Raceway, Sydney. by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

The first Falcon sold in Australia was the XK series, introduced in September 1960. It was initially offered only as a four-door sedan, in both Falcon and Falcon Deluxe trim levels. The XK was essentially a right hand drive version of the North American model, although local country dealers often included modifications such as heavy duty rear suspension (5 leaves) and larger 6.50 x 13 tyres.

The steering was light and the ride surprisingly good, on well-paved roads. The Falcon's 'king-size' drum brakes actually had less lining area than the Zephyr's, but they were stopping a car that was over 100 kg lighter, so were adequate. Whereas the North American model used an 'economy' 3.10 to 1 rear axle ratio, the Australian Falcon was built with a 3.56 to 1 ratio which better complemented the torque characteristics of the engine, and yet still allowed a reduction in cruising rpm when compared with the Zephyr.

The station wagon, added to the range in November 1960, lacked the American version's extended rear overhang due to concern that the back of the car might scrape on rough roads and spoon drains.

Billed as being "Australian-with a world of difference", Falcon offered the first serious alternative to Holden, and became an instant success. Sales were aided by the contemporary FB series Holden being perceived as lacklustre and dated by comparison. A 170 cu in engine was introduced late in the model's life.

However, before long, XK sales suffered from complaints about the durability on rough outback roads (due chiefly to collapsing front ball joints, and adjusting shims dropping out of the front suspension, both problems inducing some rather severe front camber); the car earned the unflattering nickname "Foul Can" during this time.

The XK range was expanded in May 1961 with the addition of utility and panel van body styles, officially designated as Falcon Utility and Falcon Sedan Delivery respectively.

XL

1962 Ford XL Falcon Deluxe sedan. at the 2013 National Motoring Heritage Day, The Entrance, NSW PM

1962 Ford XL Falcon Deluxe sedan. at the 2013 National Motoring Heritage Day, The Entrance, NSW  by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

Ford Australia introduced some local design changes to the XL in early 1962, such as a heavier suspension system with components from the Fairlane. Also, the appearance was changed with a new Thunderbird roofline. The slogan was 'Trim, Taut, Terrific'. Nevertheless, the Falcon was still widely perceived as unsuitable for local conditions and sales stagnated. Ford stuck with the Falcon and sales gradually increased over the following years as improvements to durability and reliability were applied.

New for the XL series were the top of the range Falcon Futura Sedan and the Falcon Squire Station Wagon, the latter featuring simulated woodgrain exterior side and tailgate paneling.

XM

1964 Ford XM Falcon Deluxe hardtop. at the 2012 NSW All Ford Day, at the Motorsport Park, Sydney. PM

1964 Ford XM Falcon Deluxe hardtop. at the 2012 NSW All Ford Day, at the Motorsport Park, Sydney.  by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

The XM, released in 1964, was the first Falcon with an Australian-designed body; the rear taillights were raised for Australian conditions and the front end received a full-wrap chrome grill and surrounds.

The steering linkage was upgraded with 9/16-inch tie rods instead of the 1/2-inch tie rods found in the US models. The suspension was also improved with the upper control arms lowered to reduce the notorious bump steer found in the North American Falcon (and early Mustangs), that this model was based on.

A new two-door hardtop body style was offered for the first time, in both Falcon Deluxe and Falcon Futura trim levels.

XP

1965 Ford XP Falcon Deluxe hardtop. at the 2011 NSW All Ford Day, at Eastern Creek Raceway. PM

1965 Ford XP Falcon Deluxe hardtop. at the 2011 NSW All Ford Day, at Eastern Creek Raceway.  by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

The following model, the XP, saw the Fairmont introduced as an upmarket variant. The XP was the "make or break" Falcon: Ford's future in Australia depended on this car succeeding. Ford's Deputy Managing Director Bill Bourke conceived a promotion for the new model which was a major gamble: demonstrate the XPs strength by mercilessly driving a fleet of XP Falcons around its You-Yangs testing grounds for 70,000 miles (110,000 km) at over 70 mph (110 km/h). The gamble paid off with the Falcon winning the prestigious Wheels Car of the Year award. A 3-speed automatic progressively replaced the 2-speed and front disc brakes were introduced as an option (standard on Fairmont and Hardtop models).

This model was also the last to see the Squire range of Ford Falcons which featured wood panels on the side of the wagons, similar to the USA based station wagons. The Fairmont made its debut, mid-way through the model run, as the flagship of the XP Falcon range. It was offered in both sedan and station wagon body styles, replacing the Futura sedan and Squire wagon. Unlike later examples, the XP Fairmonts carried both Falcon & Fairmont badgework.

Additionally in the XP range several cars were modified by Bill Warner to install a 260ci/289ci V8 and a three-speed automatic or four-speed manuals. These cars are discussed as a precursor to the GT Falcon which debuted in the next model or as XP Falcon Sprints.

Second generation (1966–1972)

1966 Ford XR Falcon 500 station wagon. at 2010 Shannon's Eastern Creek Classic, Sydney. PM

1966 Ford XR Falcon 500 station wagon. at 2010 Shannon's Eastern Creek Classic, Sydney.  by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

XR

The next new model Falcon, the XR series, was introduced in September 1966. Styling was based on the third generation 1966 US Ford Falcon and it was promoted as the "Mustang bred Falcon". It was the first Australian Falcon to be offered with a V8 engine, the 200 bhp (150 kW), 289 cubic inch (4.7 litres) Windsor unit. The XR marked the first time a V8 engine could be optioned in all trim levels of an Australian car, V8s having previously been reserved for the more up-market variants. The 144 cubic inch (2.4-litre) six-cylinder engine was deleted for the XR series leaving the 170 cubic inch (2.8-litre) six as the base Falcon engine. A 200 cubic inch (3.3-litre) six was also available.

The XR series was initially offered in nine different models: Falcon, Falcon 500 and Fairmont Sedans, Falcon, Falcon 500 and Fairmont Wagons, Falcon and Falcon 500 Utilities and the Falcon Van. The new wagons shared the 111-inch (2,800 mm) wheelbase with the XR sedans, unlike the 1966 US Falcon wagons which featured a 115-inch (2,900 mm) wheelbase. The Falcon 500 replaced the Falcon Deluxe of the XP series and the two-door hardtop body style available in the XP series was not offered in the XR range.

The Falcon XR won the Wheels Car of the Year award in 1966, giving Ford Falcon two straight wins.

The marketing focus on the Falcon's relationship with the Mustang's sporty appeal led to Ford introducing a Falcon GT variant of the XR in 1967, featuring a 225 bhp (168 kW) version of the 289 cubic inch (4.7-litre) Windsor V8 engine, sourced from the Ford Mustang. The GT heralded the dawn of the Aussie muscle car. All of the original XR GTs were painted in the colour 'GT Gold', except for eight that were "Gallaher Silver" and another five that were "Russet Bronze, Sultan Maroon, Polar White, Avis White and Ivy Green". The non-gold GTs, while having the same specifications, are the rarest of the early Australian muscle cars.

Also specified on the first GT Falcon was a Hurst shifter for the 4spd gearbox, deep dish sports steering wheel, sports instrumentation, chrome full-cover wheel trims, and thick 'GT stripes' along the lower panels between front and rear wheels.

XT

1968 Ford XT Falcon GT sedan. at the 2011 NSW All Ford Day, Eastern Creek Raceway, Sydney. PM

1968 Ford XT Falcon GT sedan. at the 2011 NSW All Ford Day, Eastern Creek Raceway, Sydney. by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

The 1968 XT model featured a mild facelift, with a divided grille, and inset driving lights for the GT. The GT also replaced the thick lower body stripes of the XR with narrow stripes along the waistline from grille to tail light. The tail lights were still round but instead of the small round indicator of the XR, the XT model had a long indicator across the light. Otherwise all external bodypanels and bumpers were the same as the XR. Inside, the XT gained a 'strip' speedometer in place of the round gauges of the XR.

The XT buyer also could choose a 188 cu in (3.1 L) or a 221 cu in (3.6 L) 6-cylinder engine.

The 289 cu in (4.7 L) V8 engine was replaced by a new 302 cu in (4.9 L) unit.

The XT is not to be confused with the similarly named base-model Falcon XT of 2002-current.

XW

1969 Ford XW Falcon GT sedan. at the 2011 NSW All Ford Day, Eastern Creek Raceway, Sydney. PM

1969 Ford XW Falcon GT sedan. at the 2011 NSW All Ford Day, Eastern Creek Raceway, Sydney. by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

The 1969 XW Falcon introduced bolder styling which featured raised ridges down each front guard and a 'buttressed' c-pillar (although the rear windscreen was not relocated), which made the cars appear larger than the XR/XT models. A new dashboard and trim variations also appeared. Factory-fitted fully integrated air conditioning was made available as an option for the first time.

The GT variant gained a bigger V8, the 351 cu in (5.8 L) Canadian-made Windsor engine, producing 291 horsepower (217 kW). The styling of the GT went wilder with the addition of an offset racing-style bonnet scoop, bonnet locks and blackouts, as well as 'Super Roo' stripes along the full length of the car (these and the bonnet blackouts were a 'delete option'). GT wheels were now 10-slot steel with flat centrecaps over the lug nuts and stainless steel dress rims. The twin 'driving lights' introduced on the XT GT were carried over to the XW GT.

If that was not enough indication of Ford's 'Win on Sunday, sell on Monday' racing ambitions, the XW also saw the introduction, in August 1969, of the legendary GT-HO specification. The GT-HO was a homologation special built for racing. Externally it was almost indistinguishable from a standard GT, but offered a higher performance engine and improved suspension— although the 'HO' stood for 'Handling Option' the cars also gained larger Holley carburettors and other performance additions. The Phase I or 'Windsor HO' was fitted with the 351ci Windsor V8 but was replaced a year later with the 351 Cleveland, producing 300 horsepower (220 kW) in the Phase II GT-HO. Phase II GT-HO wheels featured a new 5-slot design.

The XW also gained a GS ('Grand Sport') option, which could be optioned with the 188 cu in (3.1 L) and 221 cu in (3.6 L) six-cylinder, 302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8 but not the 351 cu in (5.8 L) Windsor V8 on Falcon 500, Futura and Fairmont. It offered the same dash as the GT with sports instruments, sport wheel trims and stripes. The GS lasted until the 1978 XC series I model; longer than the GT, which finished with the XB.

XY

1971 Ford XY Falcon GT sedan. at the 2012 Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival, Kurri Kurri, NSW. PM

1971 Ford XY Falcon GT sedan. at the 2012 Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival, Kurri Kurri, NSW. by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

The venerated XY was released in October 1970, with variations to grille and tail lights but otherwise unchanged bodywork from the XW. The six-cylinder motors were bigger—200 cu in (3.3 L) and 250 cu in (4.1 L). A 2V (i.e., 2-barrel carbureted) version of the 351 Cleveland V8 was an option on all sedans. All GT models remain valuable collectors' cars and this is especially true of the XY GT and XY GTHO Phase III, released in 1970.

The GTs styling went wilder again with a 'Shaker' cold-air induction scoop protruding from a hole in the bonnet, which now sported twin wide GT stripes from grille to windscreen, rather than the bonnet blackouts of the XW. The thick side stripes remained, although altered slightly, as did the twin driving lights and blacked out panel between the tail lights. Wheels were now the 5-slot steel items first seen on the XW Phase II GT-HO. The Phase III GT-HO also sported a plastic front spoiler and a wild bootlid spoiler styled after those fitted to the Mach series Mustangs.

The upgraded Cleveland V8 in the 1971 XY GTHO Phase III produced an estimated 385 brake horsepower (287 kW), although Fords official figures for this motor were much lower. The 750cfm Holley carburettor of the XW GT-HO Phase II was replaced by a 780cfm Holley, along with numerous other performance modifications. The Phase III was Australia's fastest four-door production car and possibly the fastest four-door sedan in the world at the time, with a top speed of 141.5 mph (227.7 km/h). Power figures are still debated today as Ford still claimed 300 hp (220 kW) as the standard 351 Cleveland V8 in the GT though the GTHO Phase III received many modifications to increase its reliability and race performance. In 1972 Ford made the 15-inch Globe 'Bathurst' alloy wheels available as an upgrade to the GTHO Phase III.

During the life of the XY model, the uniquely Australian uprated 200, 250 1V and 250 2V variants of the seven-main-bearing 6 cyl. were introduced. Cleveland V8s were imported initially, until the Geelong Foundry began to produce these motors for automatic Falcons in mid 1972. The transmissions included both Ford & Borg-Warner, as did rear axles. The XY is now widely regarded as the best Falcon made in Australia, not just with its Bathurst dominance but also in its performance, build quality and refinement, which was superior to competitors at the time. Current values for XYs compared to other Aussie Falcons, and their competitors, attest to this.

Australia's first production 4-wheel-drive car-based vehicle—a utility—was introduced by Ford as an XY model in 1972. All were fitted with the 250 cubic inch 6 that was mounted on a 30-degree slant to provide front axle suspension clearance between the front diff and the sump.

Third generation (1972–1979)

XA

1972 Ford XA Falcon 500 sedan. Taken at the 2011 New South Wales All Ford Day, held at Eastern Creek Raceway.

1972 Ford XA Falcon 500 sedan, at the 2011 New South Wales All Ford Day, held at Eastern Creek Raceway. by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

The end of production of the Falcon in the US paved the way for much greater Australian input in the design of Australian-made Falcons, from 1972 onwards, although for several years there was still a distinct resemblance to the US-made Mustang. The XA Falcon, introducing a new hardtop coupe model, burst onto the scene with its distinctive range of paint colours, with purple and wild plum being popular, often ordered with white or black upholstery. The XA Falcon Hardtop bore a strong resemblance to the 1970-71 Ford Torino, and shared its "frameless window" doors with the utility and panel van variants. The drivetrains carried over from the XY, although the 250-2V was soon dropped, and the 'full-house' GT-HO engines no longer required due to changes in production racing regulations. Ford had planned a 'Phase IV' GT-HO (and built four), but cancelled it in the wake of the so-called 'Supercar Superscare'.

The GT variant kept the twin driving lights but reverted to a bonnet blackout with no strips at all on the vehicle. The front guards received fake 'vents' just behind the indicators, and NACA ducts were added to the bonnet. Steel '12-slot- wheels were re-introduced although some GTs received the 5-spoke Globe 'Bathurst' wheels, which had been ordered for the GT-HO Phase IV and now needed to be utilised. The GT's rear suspension featured radius rods to help locate the elliptical spring solid rear axle. Other performance parts from the aborted Phase IV found their way onto GTs, including larger fuel tanks and winged sumps. These specced up GTs are generally referred to as 'RPO83's after the option code covering the additional parts, although what parts any given RPO83 received seems to have been governed by the luck of the draw rather than any specific process.

From the rear, XA hardtops can be distinguished from later models by the tail lights, which have lenses which slope inwards (towards the front of the vehicle).

XB

1974 Ford XB Falcon GT Coupe at the 2009 NSW All Ford Day at Eastern Creek Raceway Sydney PMcC

1974 Ford XB Falcon GT Coupe at the 2009 NSW All Ford Day at Eastern Creek Raceway Sydney, by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

In 1973 the XB Falcon (sold with the slogan "The Great Australian Road Car") was introduced with more aggressive styling, a multi-function control stalk (indicators, high beam, horn), new colours including colour-coded bumpers on the GT variants, and minor trim variations. Engine options were as before, but the 170 bhp (130 kW) six was dropped. New Panel Van and Utility trim packages, "Surferoo" and "Surfsider" respectively, were introduced.

Power assisted front disc brakes were now standard across the falcon range. The GT variant of the XB also included four-wheel disc brakes (the earlier GT/GTHO models used large finned drums at the rear). The first 211 XB GTs built were fitted with a US-built version of the Cleveland 5.8 litres (351 cu in) V8 known as the 'big port' engine, and later XB GTs were fitted with an Australian-built version of the engine with 'small port' heads. There is a notable difference in performance between these engines, and also in resale value as the early US-powered GTs are rarer and thus more collectable. The twin driving lights remained, as did the bonnet locks. The bonnet scoops were now integrated into the 'power bulge' on the bonnet. The bumpers were now body-coloured, and the power bulge, wheelarches, sills and valances were painted in a contrasting colour to the body (with Yellow Blaze body and black valances seemingly the most popular colour combination).

From behind, XB hardtops can be distinguished from the later XC models by the tail lights, which have flat lenses with chrome bezels.

This classic car is world renowned for its starring roles in the movies Mad Max and Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior), both starring Mel Gibson. In Mad Max, the police use yellow XA and XB sedans, and Max later drives a customised black XB hardtop known as the Pursuit Special, or as the Interceptor. In Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior) it was referred to as the "Last of the V8 Interceptors".

The Ford Landau, a two-door 'personal coupe' based on the XB Falcon Hardtop was released in August 1973.

XC

1978 Ford Falcon XC 5.8 V8

1978 Ford Falcon XC 5.8 V8. 2014 in Victoria, Australia, by Ivor Coster

In July 1976 Ford introduced the XC Falcon, which was the first model to comply with the new pollution regulations specified under Australian Design Rule 27A. This led to locally produced Cleveland V8s and the introduction of the cross-flow (also called the X-flow) 6cyl. Versions of this engine were produced in North America and, in various guises, used in Australian Falcons through to the XF. Its long stroke and large capacity made for very good 'towing' torque, while its thick castings and relatively loose tolerances gave it a reputation for reliability in spite of abuse.

The XC also introduced the country's first locally produced family sedans with a suspension designed around radial ply tyres. Known as "Touring Suspension" (or 'Sports Handling Suspension'), it initially was standard on the Fairmont GXL sedan (optional on other sedans) until it was made standard equipment on all sedans and hardtops in the 1978 'XC½' facelift. For better handling on station wagons, owners could order the stiffer heavy duty suspension package as a no-cost option.

Other changes included a totally different dashboard layout to the XA/XB series, new rear doors with a lower sill cut, air extraction vents in the rear of the c-pillars, and very large bumpers front and rear with no additional valance panel under them.

From behind, XC hardtops can be distinguished from earlier models by the tail lights, which have flat lenses with black bezels.

The Falcon Sundowner Van, based on the Falcon 500 Van, was introduced in 1977. It included options from the Falcon GS Hardtop, such as comprehensive instrumentation, bonnet scoops, slotted sports road wheels and driving lights, but with bodyside protection mouldings and van side glass deleted. Side and rear decals were included in the package, as was the "sedan ride" 500 kg (10cwt) suspension package and ER70H14 radial ply tyres.

In December 1977 Ford built 13 special order XC Falcon GS Hardtops. These Vehicles carried chassis numbers commencing with JG65TE(Verified by Ford). These cars were specially modified in the "parts and accessories" or P&A workshop at Ford's Broadmeadows factory. They were all modified and fitted with the body and mechanical specifications approved in the September 1977 and October 1977 evolution race homologations, these changes were mostly designed to enhance race durability. The vehicles, often referred to as "Pre-Cobras" formed the basis to the special build of 30 Bathurst Cobras (Build Numbers 02-31) that were built six months later in July 1978. It is believed, due to the small production numbers of these Homologated GS Falcon Hardtops and the timing of manufacture, that the batch of 13 cars were built as a one off special order specifically for Ford and privateer race teams which planned to race them in the 1978 Australian Touring Car Championship season. They were also needed to satisfy CAMS, (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport),regulators for minimum production numbers to allow the modifications to be legal for racing. It Is understood that seven were raced and 6 where sold off to dealers that marketed them as "Homologation Packs". The GS Homologation Pack Included the following:

  • New Front Spoiler
  • New Rear Spoiler
  • Reverse Bonnet Scoop
  • Spring Tower Brace or K bar
  • Spring Tower Reinforcement Bracket
  • Steering Idler Arm Support Bracket
  • Twin Row Water Pump Pulley with additional drive belt to Crankshaft Pulley
  • Transmission Oil Cooler with Braided Lines and pump.
  • Long Range Tank with larger filler
  • 25 mm Larger Rear wheel Housing
  • Twin Thermatic Fans each consisting of 10 Blades

In 1978 — inspired by a dominating 1-2 finish for Falcon hardtops at the 1977 Hardie Ferodo 1000 — Ford introduced the limited-edition Cobra which used the last 400 Hardtop bodyshells; each Cobra being individually numbered. Based on the Falcon GS Hardtop, it featured highlights such as Globe 15" alloy road wheels copied from Ferrari intended to aid brake disc cooling, ER70H radial ply tyres, comprehensive instrumentation, bonnet scoops, driving lights, dual exhaust, 4-wheel disc brakes and a distinctive white and blue colour scheme. The 5.8-litre engines were installed in cars numbered 002 through 199 and No 351, and the 4.9-litre engines were installed in the rest (001, plus 200 through 400 except for No 351).

The Falcon, while popular, was usually outsold in Australia by GM Holden's Kingswood until 1978, when it started to gain ground after Holden decided to replace the Kingswood with a smaller model called the Commodore, based on the European Opel models.

Holden gambled that predicted increase of oil prices during this era would drive consumers to choose smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, but the oil price rise never materialised, whilst Ford dealers aggressively pitched the Cortina 6 against the Commodore alternative until the XD Falcon arrived in 1979.

Fourth generation (1979–1999)

XD

1981 Ford XD Falcon ESP sedan, at the 2009 NSW All Ford Day, Eastern Creek Raceway, Sydney. PM

1981 Ford XD Falcon ESP sedan, at the 2009 NSW All Ford Day, Eastern Creek Raceway, Sydney. by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

Ford's next model Falcon, the XD (Project Blackwood), introduced in 1979, bore many external styling resemblances to the European Ford Granada, but was slightly larger and less luxurious. Improved body reinforcing allowed many reductions in component weight to be made, improving performance and braking. The Fairmont Ghia replaced the Fairmont GXL.

Initially, as with the first Commodores, quality and fuel consumption concerns dogged the XD. The 1980 introduction of the Alloy Head improved the fuel economy of the ageing OHV six-cylinder engine, an engine with its roots in the 1950s, while at the same time boosting power in the high compression 4.l version from 92 kilowatts (123 hp) to 94 kilowatts (126 hp). However, during this period a combination of Government pressure, the fuel crisis and more stringent pollution controls began to curtail the development of high-performance cars.

Along with Ford's consideration to delete the V8 engine, Ford had also considered replacing the Falcon with a smaller front-wheel drive sedan and hatchback, codenamed "Capricorn", but by 1981, the success of the Falcon led the project to be cancelled. A four-door version of the European Ford Scorpio, which at the time had only been designed as a five-door hatchback, was also proposed and progressed as far as the clay model stage.

XE

1982 Ford XE Falcon GL sedan. at the 2009 NSW All Ford Day, at Eastern Creek Raceway Sydney PM

1982 Ford XE Falcon GL sedan. at the 2009 NSW All Ford Day, at Eastern Creek Raceway Sydney, by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

As the fuel crisis eased, Australians moved away from the downsized Commodore back to the traditional full-size Falcon. In 1982, for the first time in more than a decade, the XE Falcon, with its Watt's Linkage coil-sprung rear suspension, fuel-saving diff ratios (4.1 L models) and optional 5-speed gearbox, eclipsed its Holden rival in terms of sales.

Ford Falcon remained number one seller in Australia until 1988, when Holden returned to the full-size Australian sedan design.

Manual transmission was available in 3-speed (in 6-seater), 4-speed or 5-speed. Auto transmission was 3-speed in 5- and 6-seater units.

The Australian-assembled V8s were continued until 1982. Ford Australia had built up a large stockpile of V8s intended to last until 1984. After the announcement of the end of the V8 in 1982 however, the stockpile had evaporated by the end of the year. During this period, Ford Australia also built a quantity of 4-bolt 351s — similar to those used in NASCAR at the time — for race purposes in Australia. When the 351's race career ended in 1985, the remains were shipped and sold in the United States.

The 4.1-litre EFI six-cylinder was introduced to replace the (4.9-litre) V8 but initially produced 111 kilowatts (149 hp) and 325 newton metres (240 lb·ft) of torque, well down from the 149 kilowatts (200 hp) and 415 newton metres (306 lb·ft) previously produced by the 5.8-litre V8. The Ford V8s remained absent between 1983 and 1991.

XF

1987 Ford XF Falcon GL sedan at the 2013 Display Day, Vic. PM

1987 Ford XF Falcon GL sedan  at the 2013 Display Day, Victoria, by Paul McCurley - Flickr.com

The Falcon XF sedan and wagon sold between October 1984 and March 1988 (modified to run on unleaded petrol from January 1986), with the Ute running through to March 1993.

The handling and ride were described as competent, but the non-powered steering was heavy at low speeds with an overly strong castor action after performing a maneuver such as a U-turn.

Power steering (and 4-wheel disc brakes) were made standard in 1986. It remains Ford's best-selling Falcon model to date; over 278,000 XFs were built. It was the first model since the XP not to offer a V8 engine.

XG

1993–1996 Ford XG Falcon GLi panel van, in Sutherland, New South Wales, Australia, by OSX, Wiki.

Ford XG Falcon GLi panel van, in Sutherland, New South Wales, Australia, by OSX, on Wikipedia.

When the XF Falcon passenger car range was replaced by the redesigned EA series, the XF commercials (utility and panel van) continued unchanged due to there being no EA series versions. The XF commercial models continued unchanged stylistically, but over time would gain the EB series engine updates.

The XG, released in March 1993, represented the most significant update to the Falcon commercials in five years. Aside from a new name—the ute was referred to as the 'Falcon Longreach'—the XG got a new engine, an exterior facelift, and lost the 3-speed (or 3-on-the-tree) column-shift manual transmission (3-speed column-Auto remained) along with 5-speed manual. Ford Australia added the Longreach name for its tough "workhorse" image, as the birthplace of Qantas and the home of the famous Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame on the boundaries of the outback. The model was introduced to the media in Longreach.

The XG was essentially an update of the XF. It gained the EB II's 4.0L OHC inline six-cylinder engine, with either a five-speed manual or four-speed auto transmissions (floor or column shift), meaning Ford could retire the old engine and transmission options. It also gained interior updates from the EB including the instrument cluster, centre console (in two-seater models), steering wheel, seats. Exterior changes were minimal, and included an EB-style grill, black window trims (as opposed to chrome on XF's) EB style door 'rubbing' strips, and indicator lights on the front quarter panels.

An XR6 model was released in October 1993. Over the standard model, it gained the ED's XR6 161 kilowatts (216 hp) engine, distinctive quad headlights, indicators in the front bumper (due to the different headlights), sportier suspension, ED XR6 seats, trim, 15-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and exterior badging. 1,050 XR6s were sold between October 1993 and March 1996.

XH

1996–1997 Ford XH Falcon Longreach utility, in Gymea, New South Wales, Australia, by OSX, Wiki

Ford XH Falcon Longreach utility, in Gymea, New South Wales, Australia, by OSX, on Wikipedia

The XH series Falcon utility and van, released in 1996, were essentially XG models facelifted to resemble the contemporary Falcon EF sedans and wagons. The XH also gained an all-new front suspension and rack and pinion steering from the EA–EL series cars. This meant all that the frame & bodywork from the firewall forward was changed.

The turret (roof) panel on the utility was now domed and lost its squared-off appearance, increasing interior head room. By this time, the popularity of the panel van had faded and Ford released their final Falcon panel van in 1997 as part of the revised XH II series. It was also with this model that the V8 engine was re-introduced into the Falcon utility commercial vehicle range.

After 20 years, the fourth generation Falcon (XD-XE-XF-XG-XH) was discontinued in April 1999.