WHICH is the better car, Falcon or Holden? It has long been a point of contention at the pub.
A main measure has been their performance, and from Ford’s perspective the XR6 is the mainstream example.
The Falcon GT might be the Blue Oval’s standard bearer but it’s the XR6 that flies the flag for the average bloke. It’s been a winner almost from the moment it was introduced in 1992 with the EB Falcon. The BF XR6 continued the theme from 2005.
It was the sporty variant of the Falcon family taxi; the special model to which dads could aspire without upsetting domestic harmony. Power came from a smooth and refined 4.0-litre double overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine. With four valves per cylinder and variable cam timing, it punched out 190kW and 383Nm.
With that sort of output the XR6 had plenty of punch. The standard transmission was a four-speed sports-shift auto but the new six-speed auto was the talking point of the new car. For anyone still wanting to change gears themselves there was an optional six-speed manual.
Ford’s engineers had done a good job in sorting the chassis, giving the XR6 a nicely balanced feel on the road without adversely affecting the ride. Inside, the cabin was comfortable, roomy and well laid-out with all controls sensibly placed for easy use.
Build quality was a concern with the BA model that preceded the BF and despite the BF being built to a higher standard, quality was still an issue. The BFII, however, was a superior effort again and is by far the better used car choice.
The BF had the oil cooler for the automatic transmission in the radiator and it was prone to fracturing and when that happened coolant would enter the transmission and result in transmission failure. The cooler was moved from the radiator on the BFII, eliminating that problem. Both models suffered from failure of the diff mounts so listen for clunks from the rear end that could indicate these need replacing.
The diffs also could be problematic, particularly when cars were driven hard, but diff specialists have developed aftermarket fixes that make the diff a more durable unit. There’s not much that goes wrong with the Falcon’s big six but look for oil leaks that might affect roadworthiness.
The discs are also known to warp and regularly require replacing. A pulsating brake pedal is usually a reliable sign that the rotors are warped.
Some mechanics will skim rotors to extend their life, but that’s only putting off the inevitable for a short time. Expect 50,000-60,000km from a set of disc rotors.
Go over all the systems in the car, the airconditioning, cruise, sound, power windows etc to confirm they’re working. Check for a service record to make sure your potential purchase has seen the inside of a workshop, as it should.
The BF and BFII were quite well equipped to handle a crash. It was a bag car to start with, which meant it had mass on its side when it came to a crunch. It also had dual front airbags, ABS and traction control to enhance its crash performance.
The BF/BFII Falcon was a big lump of a car and that was shown at the bowser. Despite the improvements Ford had made to its engine there’s no escaping the mass it has to move. Ford claimed it would average 10-11L/100km on regular unleaded petrol.
The on-road outcome depends heavily on the pressure applied to the throttle pedal.