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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

The Ford XE Falcon is a car which was produced by the Ford Motor Company of Australia between 1982 and 1984. Introduced on 11 March 1982, the XE was a revised version of the XD Falcon, which it replaced.

Model range

The XE range consisted of nine models marketed as follows:

  • Falcon GL Sedan
  • Fairmont Sedan
  • Fairmont Ghia Sedan
  • Falcon GL Wagon
  • Fairmont Wagon
  • Falcon Ute
  • Falcon GL Ute
  • Falcon Van
  • Falcon GL Van

A new version of Ford's S-Pack option was available for Falcon GL sedan, wagon, ute and van (all then badged as Falcon S) whilst a new version of the European Sports Pack (ESP) option also remained on offer for the Fairmont Ghia sedan.

Limited edition models followed, including the GL-based Falcon X-Pak sedan and wagon in late 1982, the Fairmont Ghia Limited Edition sedan in late 1983 and the GL-based Falcon Eclipse sedan and wagon in early 1984.

Changes

The XE was a facelifted and revised version of the XD Falcon with external differences restricted to a new nose, new rear bumper, and taillights. The biggest technical change was the introduction of a four link suspension system incorporating rear coil springs on the sedans. Wagons, utes and vans retained the rear semi-elliptical leaf springs as used on XD models.

The XE Fairmont Ghia ESP featured two-tone Charcoal-accented paint, Scheel-brand front bucket seats and other performance/luxury items that strongly differentiated any ESP sedan from a regular Ghia sedan.

Engines

The XE-series was introduced with a choice of four engines.

  • 3.3-litre inline six-cylinder
  • 4.1-litre inline six-cylinder
  • 4.9-litre V8
  • 5.8-litre V8

The last Australian manufactured Cleveland V8-powered Ford Falcon passenger car was a silver 4.9 litre (302ci) Ford XE Fairmont Ghia ESP sedan, VIN # JG32AR33633K, in November 1982. (Although Ford promoted this car as the "Last V8" there were a number of V8 XE Falcons produced after this build number.)

The 5.8 litre (351ci) engine was availability restricted during the XE-series to only Falcon GL and Fairmont Ghia ESP sedans, but stock remained available for assembly within F-series and Bronco vehicles through to August 1985. Ford Australia also built a quantity of 4-bolt 5.8 litre engines — similar to those used in NASCAR at the time — for race purposes in Australia. When the engine's local racing career ended at the end of 1984, the remnants were shipped and sold in the United States.

A fuel-injected “EFI” version of the 4.1 litre six-cylinder was introduced in February 1983 to, in effect, replace the V8s, but initially produced only 149 bhp and 325 Nm of torque, well down from the 188 bhp and 344 Nm previously produced by the defunct 4.9 litre V8.

Transmissions

Manual transmission was available in 3-speed column shift and in the more common 4-speed floor shift. Automatic transmission was 3-speed, floor shift in 5-seater configurations and column shift in 6-seater units. Automatic was more common than manual, even though it was at extra cost in the GL and lesser range of vehicles.

The XE was the first Falcon to be offered with a 5-speed manual transmission, but only when packaged with the base 3.3 litre engine.

Sales

As the fuel crisis eased, Australians moved away from the smaller Holden Commodore back to the traditional full-size Falcon. In 1982, for the first time in more than a decade, the Falcon eclipsed its Holden rival in terms of annual sales, and remained Australia's number one selling car until 1988.

Motor sport

Dick Johnson won the 1984 Australian Touring Car Championship behind the wheel of a Group C specification 5.8 litre XE Falcon sedan.

Accolades

The XE Falcon / ZK Fairlane / FD LTD range of cars combined to become the first automobiles to receive a prestigious Australian Design Award.

Production and replacement

Production totalled 193,890 units prior to the replacement of the XE by the XF Falcon in October 1984.