Unique Cars - - THE HUMBLE UTE -


Rust saw lots of 1970s Fal­cons that to­day would sur­vive sent to the crusher in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers. With plenty of parts be­ing re-made and values far higher than they were even five years ago, cars with quite sig­nif­i­cant dam­age can now be saved. Avoid­ing the cost of restora­tion is best of course, so check sills, wheel-arches, the area be­tween the doors and rear quar­ters, win­dow sur­rounds and the spare-wheel car­rier. Ma­jor dam­age to the fire­wall or in­ner sills is still a very ex­pen­sive re­pair. Look for cracks around the sus­pen­sion mount­ing points and kinks be­hind the rear win­dow as well. Spray sealer in the tray can con­ceal a range of de­fects, so have this checked from be­low be­fore buy­ing.


1970s Fal­con V8s when main­tained prop­erly, will last and cause min­i­mal prob­lems. As en­gine in­ter­nals age the valve gear will start to rat­tle, worn guides and rings will cre­ate ex­haust smoke. If per­sis­tent rather than just at start-up a re­build isn’t im­mi­nent but when that time comes ev­ery­thing needed is avail­able and not costly. Cylin­der head and tim­ing cover oil leaks are com­mon and can usu­ally also wait un­til a re­build. Other ar­eas to check in­clude weak­ened or bro­ken en­gine mounts, ex­haust cracks and leak­ing welch plugs. The most de­sir­able trans­mis­sion is the Borg-Warner’s sin­glerail four-speed. They suf­fer se­lec­tor prob­lems, syn­chro fail­ure and bear­ing noise. The three­speed au­tos are very durable but if they do slip or shud­der re­con­di­tioned units cost un­der $1500.


Fal­cons are no­to­ri­ous for con­sum­ing ball joints so if turn­ing the wheel at slow speeds pro­duces a cho­rus of cracks and crunch­ing sounds from the front end, some sus­pen­sion work is over­due. This will likely in­volve $500 for some new balljoints and per­haps $1000 for a pow­er­steer­ing re­build. Check the rear springs for cracks to the leaves or move­ment in the mounts and the dif­fer­en­tial for oil leaks. If the tyres are foul­ing the wheel-arches when the wheels are turned the car has ei­ther been in­ex­pertly low­ered or its springs need re­place­ment. Check the hand­brake holds the car on an in­cline and re­leases without need­ing brute force.


The seats in 1970s Fords suf­fer sig­nif­i­cantly with age and use. The frames can crack and need weld­ing or be twisted by heavy oc­cu­pants. Run­ners fill with dirt and jam and ad­justers break so make sure both seats in any ute you’re con­sid­er­ing will move eas­ily and lock in po­si­tion. Kits of vinyl seat trim can be found for around $1000, with new door cards in­clud­ing arm­rests adding a fur­ther $700 to the bill. New con­sole lids are listed at $200 with com­plete con­soles over $500. The com­plex dash is also prone to crack­ing and a re­con­di­tioned dash-top can be more than $600. Check that the car­pets aren’t damp due to wa­ter en­ter­ing through the plenum panel be­low the wind­screen.

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