1968 Ford Falcon XR ute

'MUSTANG-BRED' FALCON... XR series Fords were the first Falcon model offered with a V8 engine, setting new heights for muscle cars, utility vehicles, as well as for luxury cars, of which XRs featured many of the comfort features and equipment found in designer cars. Photo: Kelly Lucas.

THE XR series introduced by Ford in 1966 was promoted as the ‘Mustang-bred Falcon’ and it was the first Australian Falcon to be offered with a V8 engine, starting our local love affair with the quintessential Aussie muscle car.

The Ford Falcon XR was produced by Ford Australia from 1966 until 1968. This full-sized car was the first of the second generation of Falcons. Furthermore, the XR marked the very first time a V8 engine could be optioned in all trim levels. Previously, V8s were reserved for more upmarket variants in Australia.

Initially, the XR series was offered in nine different models. These were the Falcon, Falcon 500, and Fairmont sedans; the Falcon, Falcon 500, and Fairmont wagons; the Falcon and Falcon 500 utilities (utes); and the Falcon Van. The Falcon 500 replaced the Falcon Deluxe from the XP series, and the two-door hardtop body style available in the XP series was not offered in the XR range.

The XR series ute was built to handle the road like a luxury sedan, having undergone rigorous road safety tests in Ford’s laboratories and Proving Ground facilities in Victoria’s You Yangs Mountains, to test handling on all terrain found in Australia. In addition to the “best of everything” features, such as luxury interior and extra-heavy-duty suspension, the XR Falcon ute also featured the largest cab and tray of all the Falcons, at 67.5 inches of usable load width with the tailgate upright.

The Falcon 500 set a new standard for utility vehicles, beating competitors on space, luxury and comfort. You can appreciate this classic car on display now at Kialla’s Museum of Vehicle Evolution, open 10am to 4pm seven days a week at the Emerald Bank Markets (723 Goulburn Valley Hwy, Kialla VIC 3631).