Wednesday, July 14, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1963 Ford Falcon Club Wagon

While browsing the archives, I noticed that I had a few old vans to post. So, this week is going to be Big Three Vintage Vans week.

Second in this week's Big Three Vintage Vans feature is this 1963 Ford Falcon Club Wagon. Much like the previous Dodge A108, the Falcon Club Wagon is effectively a station wagon whose driver happens to sit on top of the front axle instead of behind it. Buyers could still order an array of miserly-to-punchy six-cylinder engines and have a fully appointed interior. The Club Wagon was even set apart from the much truckier-sounding Econoline by its Falcon nameplate, in case you couldn't tell this was a station wagon!

Still, no matter how the copywriters classified it, this is a van. Like the Dodge, it uses dual "barn doors" on the passenger side for rear passengers and cargo to enter and exit. Note the complete lack of passenger doors on the driver side. Why waste money on doors when everyone knows you don't let your children out into traffic? Note also the stylish bits on this van that one rarely sees on cheaper, more plebian cargo vans, like that big bright deluxe spear trim on the sides, and the cool Falcon script badging. All you got on a Dodge was block letters except for the "Dodge" script on the front doors. Another feature of note is that this Club Wagon only has two rows of seats. What luxury! Whoever sits back there has limousine-grade stretch room. Or else someone took out a row at some point, because Wikipedia says it should have three.
Like many old vans, even this relatively plush Falcon has been kicked around a lot. It has character in every dent, paint patch and rust spot. The paint has faded massively in most places, but it appears to have once been code E Viking Blue. It also looks as though someone may have added a white lower body accent, which has been partially covered by grey primer.
I don't pretend to be a huge fan of the styling of early Econolines, however I can still appreciate their impact on history. The Econoline is still in production today in the form of the Ford E-Series, made possible by Ford's ability to undercut the competition in pricing, even by as little as $100 per truck. It was shown back in the day, that in the world of fleet sales, a small saving like that added up quickly when purchasing multiple trucks. Buy 25 vans, and it was like getting one free compared to spending the same amount on a competitor's vans. Now that's being smart.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes you run across a car from your past and think it would be really cool to have one now. How we change over time. My experience with one of these began the day after my sister wrecked our '66 Country Sedan. Dad and I went car shopping. I picked out a Raven Black '67 Country Sedan with red interior and told Dad that it was the one. In hind sight, it should have gone like this; "Now Dad, if a guy needs a family wagon, and you do, this is the one to have. Now, you just sit here behind the wheel and I'll I go sign the papers." Nothing doing. We went home in a Falcon Deluxe Club Wagon very much like the one here. It was also blue. It had the 240 Big Six with standard transmission. The interior was quite nice, for a station bus, with two tone vinyl seat covers and door panels. The third seat was standard fare. There was a side step attached to the door by a rod and slid out from under the car when the door was opened. It also had a second heater under the first bench seat. That car ate tires for lunch, but that was cured with 8 ply truck tires. Trying to drive one of these above 60 mph was a death defying act. They swayed violently and were certain to roll over. However, it was quite versatile as a family hauler and as a truck. The bench seats were anchored with clamps and removing 8 bolts was all it took to undo them. It grew on us and we kids named it "The Chariot". Remember "Lost in Space"? It became mine when I was a Junior in high school. It hauled a lot of teenagers around. My friends called it "The Club". It turned out to be pretty cool after all.