Ford Falcon XY 4×4

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Australia

Ford Australia had a fairly serious try at a four wheel drive with a 4WD based on the Ford Falcon XY ute of the early 1970s. Apparently 432 were built in Brisbane for sale in Queensland and NSW. The 4WD Falcon had the 4 litre 6-cylinder engine, Spicer transfer-case and leaf springs front and rear. Tougher Australian Design Rules (ADR) caused production to be stopped.

The 4WD Falcon XY ute was an official Ford project, but from time to time enthusiasts have had similar ideas. For example now and again you might see a Ford Falcon station wagon or panel van mounted an a Land Rover or Toyota LandCruiser chassis and axles - a simple if heavy way to get a car interior over 4WD running gear.

red ute
1971
red ute

Ford's main rival, General Motors Holden does not seem to have seriously entertained a home-grown four wheel drive at the time but the GM Holden Overlander conversion was produced in modest numbers for a while. Other Australian 4WDs, on a larger scale, include Caldwell Vale, Oka and RFW -- Lloyd Allison.

From email: Some background to the Falcon 4WD. I was the sales coordinator for Ford Sales Company in Brisbane Plant when they were produced and I drove every one of the 430 (if my memory is accurate) produced.

Origin - each year back then Ford used to give some money to each State Office to use to develop a new model idea. One of my Brisbane colleagues, who was a parts rep' figured that seeing Ford sold engines to Jeep for the CJ5 produced in Brisbane then it should be possible to easily fit Jeep running gear to a Falcon as the transmission adaptors etc already existed. If I recall correctly this turned out to be correct with only a few unique parts that couldn't be sourced from original existing parts. One of these was a wedge to go under the carburettor as the angles were different.

Because we were late into the XY model, testing was carried out immediately prior to planned production, and here some snags arose. I saw the test "mule" after its tests and it was pretty sad. The main problems were the need for some strengtheners at the base of the A pillar and the B pillar but most important the front axle was not strong enough. The 430 bodies were produced as the had to be before XY runout and put in the back yard of the plant. Ordering and delivery of the axles then took over a year! And the utes were built as XY's almost a year into the XA model run.

When they were finally produced we made them all on weekends as they required unique parts and would have disrupted the production line if made during the week, hence I drove every one from the final rectification line to the gate for shipping.

The reason that only the 430 were made and no more was not so much ADR's but that the XA body was thought not as strong as the XY due to its frameless door construction and testing would have had to be done again, something that Ford did not want to know about considering the problems building the XY's and the large amount of money they lost on the exercise.

I remember that a mining company rang me one day while we were finally building them and wanted to order 100! Several wagons were made from utes by dealers in the following years as the ute shared its floorpan with the wagon. The most I believe were made by Leo Wignall in Euroa Victoria and he has quite a record with Ford conversions. Think how the 4WD market may be different today if Ford had made a 4WD wagon. [It eventually did in [2002].] I believe that they would have sold a great many. - Philip Armbruster.

blue ute
1971 example - J. Thornhill
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© 1994 . . . now,  L. Allison, www.allisons.org/ll/
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