“WHEN HOLDEN WENT FROM KINGSWOOD TO COMMODORE THERE WAS A SUGGESTION WE SHOULD CHANGE THE NAME”
(UC) “When did the project start? ”
(DF) “It was about mid-1968. I was working at Ford in the US at the time and transferred to Europe when the decision was made for Australia to develop its own car. Because I had already been working in the US and had my visas, I got a phone call while in Paris on holidays. Ford tracked me down and told me to get back to London immediately and go back to the USA.”
(UC) “Was the X A an Australian initiative because of our unique conditions of our roads or did Dearborn need a lot of convincing?
(DF) “We needed a Falcon and they could no longer provide us with the base, therefore we had to create one economically somehow and that’s why it carried over the f loorpan and underbody as I mentioned, along with the six-cylinder and V8 engines, transmissions, rear axle layout and leaf spring rear suspension to simplif y the program and reduce expenditure.
“We had to create a vehicle around the Falcon size
requirements and those basic carryover constraints. We were just setting up the local design studio.So a group of Australian designers headed by Jack Telmack (X A chief designer) went to the US studios with all the facilities to design the X A, under Gene Borndinat, (Ford VP Design) so he could keep an eye on things, make suggestions and have input into the vehicle.”
The code X A was used to signify the dawn of a new Falcon series and partly as it was the first true Australian Falcon and while there was never any discussion about changing the nameplate at the time, that topic did come up later.
“While other parts of Ford were constantly changing model names we stuck with Falcon because we felt it was right, said David. “When Holden went from Kingswood to Commodore there was a suggestion we should change the name, but I was very much opposed to doing that. Falcon was well recognised and everybody understood what it was.”
It comes as no surprise the Ford Torino is nominated by David as the car that had an inf luence on the X A Falcon design, especially the hardtop, but the Torino was considered too bold and round.
What may come as a surprise is the hardtop never figured in the original plan
but was added in 1969 as a response to the Monaro.
According to Ford, had Holden not produced the Monaro, Ford wouldn’t have introduced the hardtop.
(UC) What made the Falcon X A unique? (DF) “It was the first Falcon not derived from a US model and was uniquely Australian and the car that helped Ford Australia really go forward and stand on its own two feet in terms of its future design and engineering capability.”
Motorsport was a major activity for Ford at the time and once it was decided to proceed with the Falcon hardtop the feeling was it should become the race car due to its sporty appearance that went hand-in-hand with racing, plus the fact the hardtop was to be the hero model of the X A range.
On his return to Australia David put the business case together for the two door Falcon.
“Sales and marketing believed we needed one because Holden had one,” said Ford. “Virtually none of the sales came from the Monaro, they came from the Falcon sedan. It was purely an image thing as you had to invest money creating a new body style but you weren’t selling any more vehicles. It was a very hard business proposition and numbers had to be massaged and sales and marketing had to sign up to all sorts of promised numbers in order to make the program supposedly profitable, to get approval from the USA.
“Because the hardtop was coming along after the sedan it was actually modified in the rear wheel arches at the design stage after a request from Competition Manager Al Turner, so it could be fitted with larger wheels and tyres for racing and remain legal on the body work, so the racing program did actually inf luence the two door design at the rear.”
(UC) Was the Phase IV going to be the hardtop rather than the sedan?
(DF) “Yes that was the plan, it would’ve been the hardtop. The initial cars were
“THE PHASE IV WOULD HAVE BEEN A HARDTOP, THAT WAS THE PLAN”