Facts about the 1964 Ford Falcon Convertible

by Michael Bailey

American Motors stunned the automobile industry with the wildly successful 1958 reintroduction of its compact Rambler. It was an easy-to-handle second car aimed at housewives in the suburbs. The Rambler actually moved AMC into the Big Three when it outsold Plymouth for a short time in 1959. Studebaker's 1959 Lark, and cars like the 1960 Plymouth Valiant and Ford Falcon, emphatically demonstrated that Detroit had noticed. By 1964, the Falcon was well-established and sporting a fresh new style.

Level Flight Model

The Falcon marked a design departure for Ford, and used a unitized body like the Rambler, instead of a traditional, body-on-frame design. The floor pan and frame were welded as a unit. The firewall, rear panels, rear cabin bracing and crossmembers were designed to interlock the frame with two side panels and a roof section. This type of construction, derived from aviation technology, is very lightweight and extremely rigid, but transmits much more road noise and feel than a full-frame design with a separate cabin. The unitized chassis has become by far the most dominant design in the industry today. The wheelbase of the 1964 Falcon was 109.5 inches. It rode on independent coil springs in front and leaf springs in back. The front track was 56 inches and the rear track was 52 inches. Cars equipped with the inline six had 9-inch brake drums with four lugs, and V-8 models had five lugs with 10-inch brake drums. Six-cylinder convertibles and wagons had 157 square inches of brake lining, and all V-8 Falcons had 154 square inches of brake lining. All models came with 13-inch wheels. Tires for the convertible were 6.50 inches wide for sixes and 7.00 inches wide for V-8s.

Heart of a Predator

Base power for the 1964 Falcon was the 85-horsepower, 144-cubic-inch Falcon Six, which was not available in convertibles. The convertible's standard Falcon 170 Special Six made 101 horsepower with 170 cubic inches, and the Falcon 200 Special Six offered 116 horsepower with 200 cubic inches. The original Falcon's 260-cubic-inch, 164-horsepower Challenger 260 V-8 was continued, but had been replaced with the world-beating 289 by the end of 1964. All Sprint models featured the Challenger 260, renamed the Sprint 260, as standard equipment, and added a tuned air cleaner and muffler, along with special engine trim. The Sprint 260 was also rated at 164 horsepower. The new 289 became the Falcon Sprint's standard engine late in the model year. Manual-transmission clutches for the sixes had an 8.5-inch diameter and V-8 clutch diameter was 10 inches. The base transmission was a three-speed manual with synchronized second and third gears, except on the Falcon 200 Special. The Falcon 200 and V-8 models featured a fully-synchronized, three-speed manual. A fully-synchronized, four-speed manual was optional on all Falcons except station wagons. The two-speed, Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission was built by Borg-Warner and used a vacuum throttle body. The automatic was optional for all Falcons, except those equipped with the base Falcon Six.

Raptor Wrapper

For 1964, the Falcon was restyled along the same lines as the fresh new Galaxie, with a more squared-off and aggressive, forward-leaning look. Convertible and hardtop bodies were reinforced around the doors and below the floor pan. The reinforcement was necessary in these models to mitigate the loss of support compared to sedans that resulted from elimination of the B-pillar. The subframe assembly for the powered convertible top also reinforced chassis strength and added some rigidity. The Falcon was offered in three trim levels. Buyers could choose from the base Falcon, the Falcon Futura and the Falcon Sprint. The Convertible was only offered in the Futura and Sprint trim levels. Chrome rocker panel covers were optional for both convertible models. Available roof colors for the convertible were black, white and blue. A color-keyed vinyl tonneau cover for the lowered roof was optional. Both the Sprint and Futura convertibles were offered in 12 solid colors and 12 two-tone paint combinations.

Clear for Takeoff

Both the Futura and Sprint featured full-width, separate front seats upholstered in vinyl, with vinyl bucket seats offered as part of the Sport package for both models. There were 10 vinyl colors to choose from in the Futura, and five in the Sprint, along with full carpeting, courtesy lighting and a color-keyed steering wheel with chrome trim. Sprint convertibles featured padded sunvisors. Optional equipment included power steering, a padded dashboard, seat belts, radio, a heater-defroster and air conditioning.

Bag Your Bird

The 1964 and 1965 Falcons were very popular, and good examples are easy to find today. It makes a very attractive alternative to the Mustang and offers similar performance for street builders and racers alike, at a much cheaper entry point. The Mustang was based on the Falcon and the two models shared many parts, making the mechanical part of a restoration relatively pain-free. Values can vary widely, depending on equipment. Since the 1960 entry of the Falcon into the market, the Ranchero series had been realigned from the Fairlane to the Falcon in design, styling and equipment. That means another possible source for parts, or even a unique, yet matching companion to tow the Falcon with. Clean, running 1964 and 1965 Falcons can still be found in early 2014 for a few thousand dollars. This is only a general rule, however, and convertible versions of any American car will always command a bonus over other models in the same condition, with the same equipment. This is especially true with V-8 Futura and Sprint convertibles. The National Automobile Dealers Association estimates a low retail value of $4,725 for a six-cylinder 1964 Futura convertible with a four-speed, in drivable condition. It estimates a high retail value of $18,450 for the same car in excellent condition. For the Sprint and its standard V-8, these values rise to $10,200 for drivable cars in need of repair, and $37,050 for excellent examples with the 289, four-speed and air conditioning. Options like bucket seats, tonneau cover, seat belts and padded dashboard should also be expected to raise the asking price.

About the Author

Michael Bailey has been wrenching hot rods and muscle cars for more than 30 years. He has assembled and consulted on numerous restorations and hot rod builds. Bailey is a restoration and assembly specialist for one of the top muscle car shops in the southwest U.S.

Photo Credits

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