During the 1950's, American cars were caught up in a competitive growth in size. As each successive model appeared, it resembled the previous one, but never was it smaller, shorter, or lighter. perception of the American public was trained in "bigger is better" school and this perception was encforced by the domestic manufactures as Ford, typical of the industry, saw its full-size car grow over 18 inchs in length to a hefty 16.8 feet overall!

Imported cars however were generally smaller; as an example, the popular Volkswagen sedan was shorter by almost five feet! Traditional "comforts" were lacking in many imports, but a significant part of Detroit's market was becoming receptive to the smaller, lighter, "more economical" cars. U.S. Imports climbed to close to ten per cent of 1959 model year production and the American Motors Corporation's little Rambler was selling well; by 1959 it was filling some 6.7% of the domestic total and growning rapidly.

Ford was cetrainly not alone in perceiving the enlarging market segment, but Ford was the first of the three major manufacturers to bring to the marketplace a car designed specfically to fill new requirements for a smaller, lighter, more fuel-efficient, more comfortable, and more crisply styled car. So new was this entrant that it was described merely as the "New-Size Car"!

Introduced on October 8, 1959, the Falcon was offered as transportation. Unlike the Mustang which was later derived from it, Falcon was offered with a very narrow choice of options. Intened as inexpensive transportation, it claimed "up to 30 miles per gallon on regular gas"! It provided room for six passengers (against 4 for most imports) and was the result of a three year and three-million mile development and test program.

No wonder the early Falcon was so well received! In the 12 months following its introduction, over half a million were produced, and by the end of its introduction, over half a million were produced, and by the end of its second model year almost one million Falcons had been manufactured, a record that would be exceeded only by that of the derivative Mustang in the mid-Sixties. Falcon had most certainly hit its intended mark.

With the 1963 addition of a Convertible and then the Sprint Convertible and Hardtop in mid-year, the Falcon sought to capture a "sporty" image to gloss the fading "Economy Car" label, and by skillful restyling, the 1964 and 1965 models certainly attained that goal, The wisdom of abandoning the Marque and substituting a newly-named totally re-styled line was confirmed when the new Mustang, introduced in mid-1964 surpassed its parent and went on to still higher achievements in production, while the Falcon would slowly but surely wind down as a conservative, somewhat plainly styled, offering. Finally eliminated in 1970, the Falcon nvertheless had its moments and is presented here with enthusiasm for what it was and what it might have been.

----- Ray Miller -----

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