Along the Mustang Trail: 1963 Falcon Futura Sprint


One more important step for the Ford Motor Company on the road to the Mustang was the 1963 Falcon Futura Sprint.

With the 1960 Falcon, the Ford Motor Company scored a decisive victory in the compact sales wars over the Chevrolet Corvair. Still, Chevy won an important battle in the war with the Monza, a sportier version of the Corvair with bucket seats and other features that found considerable favor among younger buyers. The Monza accounted for around half of Corvair’s total sales.

Recognizing a hot trend, Ford answered back in 1961 with the Futura, a Falcon with similar trimmings, and then began to lay plans for an all-new car carefully designed for  this soon-to-explode market, the Mustang. To fill the gap in the meantime, midway through 1963 Ford launched another Falcon that offered some performance to go with the sporty trim: the Futura Sprint.

When it launched as part of  Ford’s 1963 1/2 Lively Ones campaign, the Sprint’s most noteworthy feature was its 260 cubic-inch Challenger V8 with 164 hp, matched to a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed transmission. The little Fairlane V8 might not sound like much now, but with a curb weight of just 2,400 lbs the Sprint could scoot right along. Springs, shocks, and rear axle were borrowed from the Fairlane as well. Other goodies included a tachometer on top of the dash, wire wheel covers, a woodgrain steering wheel, and Sprint emblems on the glove box door, C-pillars, and front fenders.

All the standard Futura equipment was also included: bucket seats and center console, an all-vinyl interior, extra bright trim. Two body styles were available, a two-door hardtop and a convertible, and sales were surprisingly brisk for a half-year specialty model. Around 15,000 cars were produced, with the coupe representing two-thirds of the volume.

Oddly enough, it seems Ford originally planned to offer the Sprint with the 170 CID Special Six with 101 hp. Ford’s early promotional materials pictured the six-cylinder version with Sprint badges on the fenders but no V8 emblems. In that form, the Sprint would have been little more than a slightly dressed-up Futura. Fortunately, we think, Ford made the Challenger V8 standard on the Sprint, and also made it optional on the rest of the Falcon range with the mid-year rollout.

Many have noted that in features and specifications the ’63 1/2 Sprint is remarkably similar to the 1965 Mustang that made its debut at the New York World’s Fair in April of 1964. The main difference was the Mustang’s entirely different exterior sheet metal. With its long hood/short deck styling, the Mustang became a Motor City sensation, creating a whole new market segment. But for buyers who preferred the same basic hardware in a traditional  three-box  package, Dearborn continued to offer the Sprint through 1965.

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