As one of America’s first compacts, the Ford Falcon doesn’t get a lot of recognition as a performance machine. When production for the 1960 model began, the floodgates for a low-cost and economical second car opened, providing mobility to a new generation of two-income families and around-town homemakers. America was also in an economic recession and the Ford Falcon—the brainchild of Ford’s Robert S. McNamara—came at just the right moment.
Throughout the Ford Falcon’s design, McNamara stressed a strict low-mass diet and a practice of utilizing existing off-the-shelf hardware, resulting in a simple, economical, and inexpensive car that anybody could afford. In later years, hot-rodders would come to love the Ford Falcon’s light weight and available V-8. (Fun fact: The Falcon’s architecture would spawn the groundbreaking Mustang of 1964.) The Ford Falcon was offered as a two- or four-door sedan, as well as in coupe, hardtop, convertible, utility, and two- and four-door wagon form. By the time our subject car was built, in the second half of 1963, the Falcon was also offered for the first time with a 164-hp, 260ci small-block Windsor V-8.
The 1963 Ford Falcon Futura coupe seen here is being offered for auction at Mecum’s Orlando event, to be held July 6-9, 2022, as lot number F23, and is scheduled to roll across the auction block on Friday July 8. What makes this Falcon special is its near-period-correct approximation of a gasser drag-race machine. In the early days of sanctioned drag racing, the gasser classes were structured for factory-bodied cars that ran on gasoline—hence the name “gasser.” To keep competition fair, cars in the gasser classes were grouped by pounds per cubic-inch of engine displacement, so that cars of similar weight-to-displacement ratios would face-off fairly against other cars in the same class. Gasser class rules and the limited tire technology at the time produced an evolved visual style that is captured here in this 1963 Ford Falcon Futura gasser replica.
Gasser machines have enjoyed a revival in popularity—their high-riser stance, eager attitude, and explosive off-the-line performance has driven new interest from a younger generation. A renewed interest from aftermarket manufacturers like Speedway Motors and Holley, plus the typically low cost of project car entry, make building a gasser well within reach for the average hot-rodder. As this one rolls across the auction block, you’ll be tempted to put in a bid, but before that, we’ve got some important info to supplement what’s already known about this 1963 Ford Falcon gasser on the Mecum website.
Different Falcon Models: Why Does It Matter?
Ford made eight different models of the Ford Falcon in 1963 (not counting Mercury’s sibling Comet) for a total production of 328,339 units. For the purposes of building a hot rod, however, the model that carries the highest value by far is the Ford Falcon Futura Sprint hardtop coupe, of which only 10,479 were built. With its rakishly sloped C-pillars, the Sprint hardtop model looked like a mini-muscle car a full year before the term existed. It’s important to know this because the values of 1963 Falcons are heavily skewed towards the Sprint hardtop model. With that asterisk out of the way, this gasser replica is a simple Futura coupe (133,523 examples built) with the Falcon’s standard rectilinear greenhouse—not a more desirable Sprint hardtop model (10,479 built).
What’s a 1963 Ford Falcon Futura Coupe Worth?
In arriving at a value for a classic car not restored to its original form, it’s important to consider that any deviation from stock comes potentially at a cost to its value. If mods are made that improve its appeal, its price could go higher, but if the mods are ill-advised, that can also tank the value. More on that in a minute. Right now, Hagerty values a stock 1963 Ford Falcon Futura coupe in perfect condition (a “1” out of a possible “4”) at $27,700. A condition “4” 1963 Ford Falcon Futura (running but with flaws) is valued likewise at $5,100. For a gasser build like this one, a wise investor will choose a project candidate in “4” condition because it makes no sense to overpay for a full complement of original parts when you’re going to remove them and use aftermarket parts like a bigger crate engine, suspension, brakes, or overdrive transmission (all of which are present here). Takeaway: This gasser replica most likely started out as a car in fair condition, borne out by the seller’s indication that rust was eradicated through the replacement of sheetmetal.
What’s a Ford Falcon Futura Gasser Replica Worth?
We peg the value of this 1963 Ford Falcon Futura gasser replica at around $35,000. Before being offered for auction at Mecum Orlando, we found this same car (VIN 3H19S180261) offered for sale in Hemmings here, with a negotiable asking price of $44,999. Based on the VIN, the car was originally built in Lorain, Ohio, as a 144ci inline-six, so there was nothing special about it (in other words, it wasn’t a Sprint, nor was it equipped with the more desirable 260ci V-8.) One more thing: Based on the Hemmings info, the car seems to have been bought or built by a Florida-based dealer for flipping; with the Hemmings ad still active in the days before the auction, we can assume the hammer will fall before the $44,999 asking price is reached. So, the critical piece of information here is that it would be foolish to bid over its “buy it now” price of $45k.
1963 Ford Falcon Futura Gasser: Pros and Cons
Mecum bidders looking at Lot F23 should be curious if the mods to this 1963 Ford Falcon Futura add to or subtract from its value, and here’s where some nuance comes in handy. First off, the all-forged 347ci small-block V-8 is a thumbs-up from the HOT ROD crew and should easily make its claimed 510 hp. This plant is based on a 302 Windsor, the predecessor of which first appeared in the 1963 Falcon as a 260ci mill, so it fits easily and is a period-correct upgrade. The gasser-style solid front axle—a kit available through Speedway Motors—is also gangbusters. The disc-brake upgrade isn’t correct, but the added safety margin of four-wheel disc brakes (and dual-pot master cylinder) more than makes up for not having the “correct” drum brakes.
Also in the plus column is this gasser replica’s ladder-bar rear suspension, rear leaf spring relocation kit, stock vinyl interior, vintage-look gauges, three-point rollbar, colored quarter-window glass, dual-quad tunnel-ram intake, intake scoop, long-tube fenderwell headers, and spindle-style front rolling stock. It’s all very tantalizingly close to authentic, but there are a few minor problems that give us cause for pause. If this were a car being considered for HOT ROD feature status, or one that we were personally contemplating as a “buy,” there are five things we’d want to change that have a negative impact on its gasser bona fides.
1963 Ford Falcon Futura Gasser: Buyer Concerns
There’s not much that can be done about this Falcon’s era-defying Viper red paint. Bright colors weren’t a staple until much later in the ’60s and a muted Rangoon Red was the closest thing Ford had in 1963. A more serious offense is the diamond-plate sheeting in the engine compartment, which along with the Viper red paint looks like refugee material from a fire engine restoration project. (The sheetmetal under these plates will remain a mystery until the buyer removes them.) The last three infractions—over-polished rear wheels, undersized modern drag radials, and a too-high rear ride height—are all interrelated and should be remedied as one project by the buyer.
To fix the look in the rear, we’d suggest a pair of unpolished Rocket Racing Injector wheels with 26 x 10.50-inch M&H Racemaster cheater slicks. The body should be lowered over these tires. (Radius-cutting the wheelwells is a period-correct option; we can certainly understand the seller’s reluctance to cut quarter panels that he just replaced, but that love is misplaced here.) One last small detail bidders should be aware of: The five-speed T-5 manual gearbox is not rated for the torque output of this 510-hp engine; buyers should not fret over driving it on the street, but expect some kind of breakage after a half-dozen passes with some sticky tires and a hard launch.
None of these issues should put off potential buyers, but they will help to inform a rational bidding position. We’re guessing more sophisticated buyers will pick up on these stylistic miscues, but the novice collector may not, so caveat emptor. Our bidding advice: You should feel OK to pour on the coals up to $30K and see what unfolds. (Our suggested fixes will cost another $1,200-$2,000.) Forty thousand is where we wave the yellow flag—you can probably build one cheaper on your own, and you won’t make the same styling faux pas as the seller. At $45K, hit the brakes on your bidding. Our best guess is that the reserve will be met somewhere in the low-to-mid-30s. If the reserve isn’t met, you might try contacting the seller afterwards through the Hemmings ad and negotiate down from the $44,999 asking price.
Ford Falcon Futura Gasser Recommendation: Buy Under $40k!
The gasser replica racer craze is riding high on a wave of popularity and Falcons were often the subject of this treatment when new. Nevertheless, you don’t see many of them today, and they’re a welcome change from the normal range of muscle cars seen at most shows and cruises. Simply put, you’ll have a rare car without paying for its rarity. The price of Ford Falcons for the time being has remained reasonable, allowing small customizing and restoration shops to buy and modify them without charging an insane amount of money. Parts are readily available, the car’s design is simple to repair and maintain, and buyers need not worry that repairs and further modification are out of reach.
1963 Ford Falcon Futura Gasser Highlights
- 347ci/510-hp stroked small–block Ford V-8 engine
- Eagle rotating assembly
- 10.5:1 compression ratio
- custom-ground camshaft by Comp Cams
- machined and ported aluminum cylinder heads
- MSD distributor
- tunnel–ram intake with dual 450-cfm Holley carburetors
- Tremec T-5 manual transmission with Hurst shifter
- Ford 9–inch locker rear axle with 4.11 gear
- Speedway straight–axle front end
- Crites rear spring relocation kit
- 295/50 rear tires
- custom ladder bars
- subframe connectors
- shell taken down to bare metal, rust and corrosion replaced with new metal
- shell sprayed Viper Red and polished
- front and rear windshields replaced with new glass
- factory bumpers rechromed
- stainless trim polished
- period–correct tow tabs under front bumpers
- red-tinted quarter windows with period racing decals
- classic E/T Gasser skinny front wheels
- vinyl-covered bucket seats
- painted metal dash
- Deluxe interior trim
- polished stainless
- factory gauges
- original AM radio
- AutoMeter tach, underdash triple-gauge cluster
- Three–point rollbar
- Five–point racing harness
Watch This: 1963 Ford Falcon at the 2017 Detroit Autorama
Source: Read Full Article