From Modern Motor February 1965: The XP verses the HD Premier. We all know how it ends!
The new XP model Falcon, announced by Ford Australia, on March 21, represent another step forward in the gradual development of the car to suit our motoring conditions.
By popular-car standards it is well-engineered, goes well, stops well, rides quietly and smoothly – and the 200-inch engine, at least, teams beautifully with the new three-speed Fordomatic 3S transmission (a modified Borg Warner 35).
Apart from the front body pressings and both bumpers, giving a squarer look at each end, and adding 3in. to the overall length, pleated upholstery in some models, and less bulky door trim, revised side flashes and name-plates, appearances has not changed basically – as forecast in Modern Motor last month. The main changes are hidden.
The 140 and the 170 cu. In. engines have a 3.5:1 axle ratio as standard, but 3.2 in now optional on the 170 and standard on the 200 cu. In-unit. Low-speed torque is said to be improved on the two smaller engines, but Ford don’t explain how.
Body and suspension have important changes. The unit-construction is now reinforced by what Ford call torque boxes (the Galaxie has them). They are box-type chassis reinforcements that run each side of the floor pan full length of the passenger compartment, with rubber insulation. Their function is to stiffen the body and insulate it from suspension shocks and road noise. And they do just that. The Falcon now sits down on the road even better, the ride over all sorts of surfaces is smoother, more controlled and quieter.
Although the steering is still a totally unnecessary five turns lock-to-lock, the sturdier steering platform has made it much more accurate. The car responds to delicate wheel movements where it used to be rather like stirring a pudding.
Back suspension has been beefed-up with stiffer-rate springs and shockers. It is in balance with the front end, which got similar treatment on the previous XM model. The XM sedan I testes in late May was run with a heavy load in the boot; the back ends was bent double, so to speak, and at night the high beam lighted the treetops. This is no more – I put 2cwt. of briquettes in the boot of the XP Futura automatic to check it out.
Once again Modern Motor was right in its forecast last month about the automatic transition going from two-speed to three-speed – and just after the Holden going from three to two-speed. Is it an improvement? My oath it is.
This is not a reflection directly in the performance figures. The XP was slightly slower all round on acceleration then its XM equivalent. Although top speed was a bit higher. Two reasons: the torque boxes have put weight up half a hundredweight – and the XP had done only 1100 miles, while the XM had covered twice that mileage before I got it, thus being more fully run-in.
So far as top speed goes, the higher axle ration clearly suits the big engine better, and that’s where the extra cam from.
All things being equal, an XP and XM fully run-in would probable level-peg to 50 m.p.h., and then the XP would take over on acceleration – and turn in several more m.p.h. in top speed.
The New Transmission
But the new three-speed transmission has a lot more advantages than nippiness. It is the Type 35 Borg Warner, with modifications to the torque –converter. Changes up and down are almost as smooths as you can get, unless you have a V8 torque and cubic inches that can accept the loss of power needed to cushion-out entirely the swapping of ratios.
Price of the smoothness seems to be some loss of engine braking in the lower gear through torque-converter slip (top gear is a direct mechanical drive, locking out the converter).
The selector quadrant reads L for lock-up, not low gear; D for drive; N for neutral; R for reverse; P for mechanical parking lock.
If you selected L at 45 m.p.h. on the test car, second gear would engage and stay engaged down to about 5 m.p.h. (when first would come in) or stay in right to valve bounce at 69 m.p.h. It is a fixed selection – the selector must be moved into D to change up.
Similarly, if L was selected at 14 m.p.h. or below, first would come in and stat in till D was selected. Valve bounce set in at 35 m.p.h.
Now you can see what the extra figures in the maximum gear speeds section of the performance panel mean. The lower speeds are the maximum in the lower gears on full throttle kick-down in D; figures in brackets are the maximum useful speeds in L. There is no point in pressing on to valve-bounce speeds, because acceleration falls and the engine is being abused.
There is a very handy degree of over-riding control with this transmission between certain speed ranges. You can grab a low cog for engine braking if you’ve got something on tow or need to help out the brakes in any way; you can hold a low gear and get more passing acceleration at higher speeds then D will allow.
Engine braking is not as positive in the lower gears as with the normal Type 35, but still superior to most automatics. It is also useful if you need to slow in the middle of a corner, where four-wheel braking might upset the old applecart properly.
Another thing I liked was the quick response from the transmission when the accelerator kick-down was used. At the appropriate speeds the lower gears fairly snapped in, as smoothly as you could wish.
Ratios are well chosen. A third gear simply means that better advantage is taken of the high torque of the engine – you get three bites at optimum performance instead of two. People who caravan will find this transmission has better lugging power over a wider speed range with less effort than the old two-speed; those who just motor solo will find it more responsive for less effort.
It does allow excellent performance too. True top speed was 94.1 m.p.h.; 0-60 in 10.5 seconds is tremendous, and 0-90 in 34.1 means that she still keeps going where many have stopped.
A short, grossly unfair to fuel consumption test of only 100 miles returned a 19.8 m.p.g. I estimate conservatively that better than 21 m.p.g should be the normal order of things. (The test was brief because XP Falcons were still on the secret list when I got this car to catch the edition, and Ford wanted it back quickly.)
One last word about the transmission. The two-speed verses three-speed, four-speed or any number of speeds argument will go an as long as motoring.
But it’s a fact that three well-chosen ratios are better than two badly chosen – and t’other way round. There is no virtue in numbers for the sake of numbers. It is also fact that a greater number of properly-chosen ratios are more efficient in getting the best out of an engine’s performance than a lower, equally well-chosen.
Handling and brakes
This test was done in rotten weather – rain, slippery roads after a long dry spell, gusting winds. I didn’t mind for two reasons. First, the bushfires were being quenched at last; second, the conditions really tested this new Falcon – and it handled them beautifully.
Of course, I’d like higher-geared steering, but only for less physical movement (no effort is needed) of the wheel on tight corners, twisty or long.
Falcon Futura S.P.
Engine, 6-cylinder o.h.v; Capacity 200 cu. In (3277 c.c);
Compression ratio 8.7:1;
Max b.h.p 121 at 4400 r.p.m. Torque 185 ft./lb. at 2400 r.p.m
Transmission, 3-speed Borg Warner based Fordomatic 35
Ratios: Low 2.39, inter. 1.45, drive 1:1; final drive 3.2:1
Steering, 5 ½ turns lock-to-lock, 37ft. 7in. turning circle.
Brakes, 114.3 sq. in. lining area
Dimensions, Length 15ft. 3 ½ in. Width 5ft. 10in. Height 4ft. 8in.
Kerb Weight 2591lb (23.1cwt.).
Fuel Tank 11.7 gallons.
Conditions: Cools, gusting crosswind; two occupants; super fuel.
Best speed: 97.1 m.p.h
Flying ¼ mile average 94.2 m.p.h
Standing ¼ mile 18.9s
Maximum in gears; Low 28 (32) m.p.h.
Intermediate, 58 (66)
Acceleration from rest (drive range):
0-30 m.p.h. 4.2s
0-40 m.p.h. 6.2s
0-50 m.p.h. 8.9s
0-60 m.p.h. 10.5s
0-70 m.p.h. 13.4s
0-90 m.p.h. 34.1s
Acceleration in Drive (full kick-down);
20-40 m.p.h. 5.2s
30-50 m.p.h. 5.5s
40-60 m.p.h. 6.2s
50-70 m.p.h. 6.8s
60-80 m.p.h. 10.4s
70-90 m.p.h. 22.3s
Braking, 32ft. to stop from 30 m.p.h. in neutral
154ft. form 60 m.p.h.
19.8 m.p.h. over 100 miles, including all tests.
Price $(pounds) 1477 tax-paid