Ford Falcon XC
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
More power and torque, better visibility, suspension refinements and simpler servicing heralded Ford's new clean, XC Falcon. The appearance changes reflected the basic necessities needed to identify a new model, but they certainly made it easier to separate XC from XB, than GM-H's changeover from HJ Holden to HX. Basically, of course, it was the same old Falcon - Ford was merely marking time until 1979 when its drastically revised and restyled XD hit the market.
The XC was built on the floor pan introduced in 1966 and was the third revision (like GM-H's HQ HJ HX line) since the XA Falcon was released. The special difference with this Falcon were the new six cylinder engines. The 200 and 250 CID (3.3 and 4.1 litres) were given a new crossflow head, which had bigger valves
, revised cam timing, new manifolds and a substantial boost in power and torque.
The changes were of course brought about by the need to comply with emission regulation ADR 27a, but where many thought the engines would lose power because of the clean-up - Ford engineers managed to reverse this trend by producing even more output - a factor which gave FoMoCo a hefty push-along in the competitive race between its cars and the General's cleaner Holden range.
GM-H engineers had estimated power was down by about seven percent across the board, while vehicle weight was reduced by a mere nine kilograms. Ford meanwhile upped vehicle weight (in the Falcon 500 versions) by about 93 kg, while engine output for the 4.1 litres six went up by 9kW to 92kW @ 3700rpm. On all engines except the 3.3 litre six torque was increased substantially. On the 4.1 torque was upped by 8.5Nm.
Ford said the four year engine clean-up program (and associated other projects) cost an estimated 16 million. Ford justified the need for this expenditure by asserting that the medium car market had stabilised after a noticeable decline. At the time Ford's Managing Director was Brian Inglis, and he claimed the company was looking to equal, or better, the success of the XB Falcon, of which more than 170,000 iterations were sold. Ford even revised the 1976 model line-up by dropping the GT and Futura. Big shoes to fill, and while the newly introduced Fairmont GXL was a very good car - it was never going to be a suitable replacement for the GT.
Ford had hoped the Fairmont GXL would appeal to the young, middle-management executive types. It was lavishly equipped and trimmed, and came with the 4.1 litre six as standard, with T-bar auto, sports suspension, slippery diff, four-wheel disc brakes
and additional sound insulation. It was suitably pricey too - with a sticker price of around $7600 at launch. Generally prices on the XC only rose by about $190 on average - this being made up by natural price increases and about $100 for the 'emissionising' of the engines. The Falcon 500 went up about $180 and Fairmont by $230. The price increases, however, meant quite meaningful additions to the standard equipment levels of all cars, a point which Ford's Brian Inglis pushed hard when the XC was launched.
Inglis claimed Ford aimed to dominate the medium market by its 'value-for-money' approach to vehicle pricing. The 500 may have been around $130 dearer than the equivalent Kingswood HX, but equipment levels were higher - standard kit including bucket seats, heated rear screen, radial tyres
and halogen headlamps. The refined look was achieved by reducing the slope of the grille and introducing large rectangular headlamps on some models. The bonnet line was softened and more substantial bumpers fitted. The coke bottle effect was reduced by altering the style line running through the rear doors.
The base model Falcon's retained the round headlights of their forebears, however the Fairmont was blessed with wonderfully elegant rectangular headlights. The rectangular headlights made the XC look cleaner and certainly more refined. With later models, Ford would black out much of the chrome work, giving the car a more menacing appearance. The upmarket models also gained far better seating, now affording better under-knee and lumbar support. For the well heeled, there were also electric windows and remote rear-view mirror.
One of the more popular models from the XC lineup was the Fairmont wagon, affording a huge luggage capacity and plenty of power on tap courtesy of the 4.1 litre six cylinder engine. The GS and Fairmont hardtop models remained, although they were rather more subdued than previous iterations. A new grille was used, and the Fairmont version also gained the handsome rectangular headlights. However the interior was rather more refined, and in being so lost a little of the sportiness one had come to expect from a hardtop.
Both models of the hardtop struggled to sell, and Ford introduced the limited edition Cobra
as the last of the two door version, and to help them move the remaining 2 door coupe body shells. The Cobra would be the last of the performance Ford's for a time, and used the worldwide publicity gained by the success of Caroll Shelby for its inspiration. In all, 400 were built and individually numbered (that number coinciding with the number of two door body shells remaining). All Cobra's were painted with the same colour scheme, white with mid blue stripes and a cobra snake decal on the front fender. In addition, each Cobra had a numbered plaque to help with identification, something very important to collectors today.
In a move away from imperial measurement, the Ford range was now badged as 3.3, 4.1, 4.9 and 5.8 litre instead of the previously used cubic inch capacity. Strangely, Ford's second longest running model, the Futura, was dropped from the XC lineup. So, much more regrettably, was the GT (the GXL was "supposed" to be the replacement, but it would fail to capture the hearts and minds of the Ford enthusiasts). Mid way through the life of the XC, Ford made some radical improvements to the car's suspension
to allow for radial tyres, and these models tend to be known as the 'XC and a half'.
The later XCs are easily identified by the introduction of the the classic Ford oval badge on the centre of the grille, its first use on an Australian Ford.