The passage of time strengthens the legends. In the case of cars, it makes them more popular and, therefore, more expensive. With nearly half a million units produced, The Ford Falcon integrates the Olympus of legendary models of the Argentine automotive industry. Within a range full of variants, there is a Falcon that remains the object of desire even after half a century: it is the Sprint, the sports icon that celebrates the 50th anniversary of its birth.
Era on May 2, 1973 when the first Sprint unit left the General Pacheco plant; It went on sale in August of the same year. Aesthetically identifiable with the stripes that crossed the bonnet and the sides in that first version, in Falcon Friends Club from Argentina are in no doubt what this version still represents among fans of the iconic Ford car: “It is the most desired and the most sought after”.
That is why this Monday, in the middle of the May 1st celebration, they held a meeting in an emblematic point of the city of Buenos Aires to pay homage to such an icon: they met near the Faculty of Law to celebrate the date. There were Sprint models and others of the Falcon for the celebration that brought color and noise to Figueroa Alcorta Avenuein the heart of the Recoleta neighborhood.
The Falcon is the car that marked a turning point in the history of Ford in Argentina. It was the model that prompted the construction of the current factory north of the Conurbano and thus leaving the factory in the La Boca neighborhood in Buenos Aires, the first that the Detroit giant had built in Latin America, in the 1920s.
Serial production of the Falcon began on January 10, 1962; On January 27 it was presented in collaboration with a mega event in a theater on Corrientes street. The legend of one of the national cars par excellence begins, which eleven years later it would define the look of its quintessential sports variant.
The Ford Falcon Sprint is born
By the early 1970s, the Falcon was starting to build its legendary presence in the Road tourismIn 1969, Rodolfo De Álzaga had achieved his first triumph with the model. And in 1972 he began the journey of the most successful model in the history of the category: Héctor Gradassi from Cordoba won the first of 22 titles the Falcon has achieved in the TC.
The pulse of that crown achieved by pirin Gradassi (four times TC champion, all with Falcon) was one of the key elements for Ford to aim to launch a very sporty variant of the model that was already enjoying success on the country’s roads. Those were times when Chevrolet had on the market Chevy 2 Series Coupe, the creation of Jorge Ferreyra Basso who reversed the iconic car of the Arc. And Turin was a success.
Thus, the need arose in General Pacheco to have a model that would add to the trend of sports cars, surpassing the Futura XP and SP that had appeared in the early 70s. In any case, there is another version of the story, more bordering on a fairy tale than those leaden times lived in Argentina, by the permanence of military governments and the growing power of the guerrillas.
“It has never been verified nor will anyone officially verify it, but it has also been said that the Falcon Sprint He responded to the request of the Armed Forces to have a powerful car to chase the guerrillas, who had the Torino as one of their favorite cars. And that the answer was Sprint”, he says clarion Néstor Lema, president of the Club Amigos del Falcon.
A Falcon Sprint It differed from the rest at first glance, as it had side stripes (commonly referred to as “Pipa”) and black or white center stripes that were combinable between eight body color options.
Also, the exterior mirrors were placed further forward in the hood area, while the radio antenna protruded from the roof. These were the details that differentiated it from the Futura, the model on which it was based.
Interior doors stood out by proposing, for the first time in the Falcon range, seats with reclining backrests, while in terms of equipment it had a heater and defroster, cigarette lighter, radio, rear speaker, center console and sports steering wheel with leather finish. The grille was black, as were the wheels.which in turn had chrome petals.
However, the juiciest thing was its engine. The 221 – figure representative of the 221 cubic centimeters of displacement – 3.6-litre SP in-line six-cylinder, equipped with exhaust and intake manifolds and twin-barrel carburettor to deliver 166 HP of power at 4,500 rpm. The box, meanwhile, was a four-speed manual with a lever on the floor. That first Sprint from 1973 had a top speed of over 190 kilometers per hour.
Because the Falcon Sprint is an object of desire
It wasn’t the top-of-the-line model in the Falcon family, but that title belonged to the Futura. Sprint’s name also didn’t exist for the industry. “Sprint’s green card states that it is a Futura Falcon 4-door version. They can be recognized as original by the VIN plate on the driver’s door, where they bear the initials KA which identified the 221 SP engine,” explains Néstor Lema.
Why such scrupulousness in finding the originals? “First, because today the Sprint is the most sought-after model and the one that gets paid the most. So much so that there are more Sprints than they ever produced. Not even Ford knows how many were produced, but you can find many who have painted the Futura with stripes to try and pass it off as a Sprint,” Lema points out.
The sports model was a sales success. In 1975 the first changes were made to the bodywork of the Sprint, when it already lost the characteristic stripes on the bodywork. With the restyling of 1978 it passed to have a two-tone bodywork. It was in the same year of the definitive farewell to the Chevy coupe.
The Falcon Sprint is nine years old. The new generation of the model launched in 1982 – the same one that remained until the end of the model in the early 1990s – led to its replacement by the Ghia SP version.
According to Club Amigos del Falcon records, there are a Sprint from that last batch that hit a record price. This is a 1981 specimen with just 40,000 kilometers driven which was stored for 30 years in the garage on blocks so as not to wear out the original tyres.
This story came to light in 2017. It was a Moorish red Ford Falcon Sprint model 81, whose first owner died in 1983. For sentimental reasons, his parents decided not to sell the car: they only used it up to half of the trip to Córdoba, and was later stored in the garage of a four-block house so that the original covers would not deform.
Whoever found out to Laferrere paid $27,000 for the car. A short time later, when he put it on terms, he received an offer from Chile for $40,000price at which he eventually sold it to a local collector whose identity is unknown. “It is the highest price recorded by the club for a Falcon Sprint. He hit a striped line 73 for which they had paid $25,000.Néstor Lema strengthens.
At Club Amigos del Falcon they always pay tribute not only to the Sprint, but also to the 494,209 units of the Falcon produced in Argentina until September 10, 1991, when he greeted each other with a ceremony that took eight days to carry out and a lottery. To celebrate the model’s 50th anniversary, they have created an extra with several specimens of those he has among his partners.
They met in front of the Faculty of Law and from there they paraded through the Recoleta and Retiro areas of the city of Buenos Aires. It was how they chose to join the celebration and showcase some of those Falcon Sprints that, as they pass, elicit a reaction that has stood the test of time: it’s impossible not to look at them.
Ben Stock is a journalist working for News Rebeat, where he covers the automobile section. With a passion for cars and the industry, Ben brings insightful and in-depth reporting to his readers.