FORD FALCON XB UTILITY
BODY & CHASSIS
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.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
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.
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
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.
INTERIOR & ELECTRICS
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.