Chassis number: 3H15F236541
- AACA Senior First Place winner
- Rare Sprint with 260 V8, factory tachometer, wire wheel covers, buckets and console
- No expense was spared on this very detailed restoration
|Vehicle:||1963 Ford Falcon Sprint Convertible|
|Original List Price:||$2,837|
|Tune Up Cost:||$150|
|Chassis Number Location:||Stamped into the top of the inner fender on the driver's side of the engine compartment|
|Engine Number Location:||Tag attached under coil mounting bolt|
|Club Info:||Falcon Club of America|
|Alternatives:||1963 Corvair Monza Spyder, 1963 Pontiac Tempest LeMans, 1963 Oldsmobile F85 Jetfire|
This 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint convertible, Lot 50.2, sold for $30,800, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson Auction at Scottsdale, AZ, on January 15, 2012.
“The pussy cat is now a tiger.” That’s what Jim Whipple, writing in the June 1963 issue of Popular Mechanics, said of the 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint. “We got a clue when we drove the new 164-hp Falcon Sprint V8 with 4-speed stick… More of the message came through as we listened to eyewitness reports of Swedish rally driver Bo Ljungfeldt’s record-breaking drives over Alpine black ice in the special sections of the Monte Carlo Rally at the wheel of the more powerful 235-hp Falcon V8.”
Win in Monte Carlo, sell in Detroit?
What was Ford’s popular-but-dull family-mover doing in the famous Monte Carlo Rally? Winning, actually — eight Falcons started, eight fi nished, with Ljungfeldt earning a class victory, setting some records along the way. Ford was busy moving its “Total Performance” message beyond stock car and drag racing, and the new Falcon Sprint in the showrooms and the Holman-Moody-prepared cars in the Monte Carlo Rally were a big part of that program.
While the concept of an American-made compact car had been around for a few years, the concept of a performance compact was new. The turbocharged Corvair Monza Spyder and Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfi re started it in 1962, and Ford jumped in with the introduction of the Sprint in February 1963. The introduction coincided with the Sprint’s Monte Carlo exploits. “The Falcon Sprint, brilliantly designed to bring a new level of Rally-proven V8 performance to the compact field” modestly proclaimed a full-page ad in the April 5, 1963, issue of Life magazine.
Ford had hinted at the direction it was going to take when it allowed Car Life magazine to test an upscale Falcon Futura prototype, powered by the 260-ci V8 out of the mid-sized Fairlane, at Ford’s Romeo proving ground in the fall of 1962. They wrote: “With the appealing performance offered by the Fairlane V8 and the luxurious appointments of the Futura body style, the car becomes an aesthetically satisfying entity. Comparatively small yet spacious enough for four adults and their paraphernalia, it’s a nearly-ideal specialty vehicle.”
Car and Driver later tested a production Sprint convertible with a 4-speed and saw “0-to-60 mph in less than 11 seconds consistently, and quarter-mile times were right in the high seventeens and low eighteens.” Pretty good for a pre-muscle car in 1963.
Small block makes the car
The key to transforming the Falcon into the Sprint was Ford’s 260-ci V8. New to the Fairlane in 1962, it would be the basis of not only the Falcon Sprint, but highly modifi ed versions also powered the Ford GT prototypes in their fi rst attempt at Le Mans in ’63 and the revolutionary Lotus-Ford Indy 500 cars that almost won that year. Also, the British AC Ace sports cars that a Texan named Carroll Shelby began importing were fi tted with the Ford 260 after Chevrolet turned him down. The engine weighed 50 lbs less than Chevrolet’s legendary small-block and delivered almost as much power. History was in the making, and Ford’s 260 was the start of much of it.
Although introduced mid-model, the Sprint coupe sold well at 10,479 units. The Sprint convertible, however, is much more rare, with 4,602 built out of a total of 35,794 ragtops that year.
Trampled by a Mustang
While it is certainly a unique and appealing car, one look at our featured Sprint convertible reveals possibly its biggest fl aw — it’s just a little too cute to be taken seriously. The 1964 models rectifi ed that, with bolder styling and an optional 289-ci engine, but sales actually dropped a bit. The fate of the Falcon Sprint was sealed on April 17, 1964 — that’s the day the top-secret Falcon-based Mustang was revealed to the world. The Mustang, of course, ranks as one of the greatest automotive success stories ever, leaving the Falcon, and the sporty Sprint, nearly forgotten and forever devalued.
I’ve driven both early Mustangs and Falcon Sprints, and blindfolded, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. But a Mustang is, well, a Mustang, and a Sprint just isn’t.
Expensive, even with celeb status
So why would someone pay 30 large for a Falcon? Sometimes emotion trumps logic. A ’63 Sprint convertible that was owned at one time by singer Jimmy Buffett sold for $26,460 in 2007. We said of that sale: “Expensive for condition, but worth it for its history. Celebrity cars bring from zero to many times their retail value depending on who they were attached to and what the circumstances were. Buffett is not known for Falcon ownership, but he is known for the Florida free-spirit lifestyle. Well bought.”
No other Sprint convertible this side of Margaritaville has come close to this price. In fact, an early Mustang V8 convertible in excellent condition would cost only a few thousand more than this Falcon. I can only assume the buyer had some emotional or nostalgic attachment to this car, or got into a spirited bidding war and ended up paying more than market. Or maybe the buyer was tired of the ubiquitous early Mustangs and just wanted something different.
Whatever the reason, the buyer got a sporty ’60s convertible compact — at a premium price. Very well sold