Rod & Custom Feature Car
1960 Ford Falcon
The Falcon you see on these pages may not be the usual R&C fare, but two factors swayed us in the decision to feature it: It appeared in the background of the main picture in our story on painting the Tribute T body, as well as similarly on our Facebook page. In each case the reaction was surprising, not only with comments via social media, but especially with emails regarding its magazine appearance. We figured if it was that popular, you might like to see more of it, so here it is, finished.
It actually belongs to Chris Ashworth, the owner of Romance With Rust (www.romancewithrust.com), in Orange, California, the company who painted our T body. He's owned a few Falcons, so when a friend was looking to sell this one, which was black at the time, she approached Chris. He bought it to flip it, but liked it so much, he changed tack and gave it a makeover.
"The first thing we did," Chris says, "was fix the bad suspension. It had a typical hacked lowering job with torched springs up front and leaves pulled at the rear, with lowering blocks. We ordered a complete new suspension kit with uprated lowered springs, for a Mustang, as nothing is available for the front of a Falcon. KYB gas shocks were used, though we raised the upper shock mounts to prevent the shocks bottoming out with the shorter suspension travel.
"Despite being reliably informed that a '60 Falcon rear suspension was the same as later models, the rear springs we ordered didn't fit, so they were sent out to have leaves added, be de-arched by 4 inches, and re-tempered. The car handles pretty well now, with uprated stiffer springs all round, and four new gas shocks."
As the Falcon was a good running and driving car, and Chris knew the transmission had just been gone through, all they did was detail the engine bay and gave the 90hp, 144ci straight-six a service, concluding the running gear renovation. Actually, that's not strictly true, as the engine came out of the car in order to paint the engine bay. You may have noticed we said the car was black a few paragraphs back, and it's certainly not black now.
"I decided the car would look better in my favorite color, green, so we totally disassembled it, taking it down to the original primer, and tackled the few minor repairs required. These were few, as it was a really straight, un-messed with example. All the badges and trim I didn't like were shaved, the remainder sent out for polishing and re-chroming. The color is a custom mix, starting with a regular formula then tinted until we liked it, sprayed by Romance With Rust's resident gunslinger Osmar Mata. Once the paint was color sanded and polished, the car was reassembled, using parts sourced from FalconParts.com and Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts."
With the car back in one piece, Chris turned his attention to which wheels to fit, and his ultimate decision is, in our minds, what "makes" this particular Falcon, bearing in mind it retains its stock four-bolt pattern. "I spoke with my buddy Mike at Curtis Speed and we hatched a plan to machine a set of one-off wheels for the Falcon. This way we could tailor the sizes and offsets to the car, rather than use off-the-shelf wheels that fit, but not quite right. Mike installed the wheel centers on the hoops several times (It's perhaps worth mentioning Chris' and Mike's shops are a few hundred feet apart, making this chore relatively easy. –Ed.) to test-fit them. Then, once we were happy with the width and offsets, the centers were welded in place and the wheels were re-polished. We then gave them a ceramic clearcoat so they're low maintenance and won't ever oxidize."
The front wheels measure 15x5, with the rears coming in at 15x7. Chris and Jeff at Wheels & Motion in Pomona, California, played around with tire sizes until they found matching tread patterns front and rear with sidewalls that "didn't look to have too much or too little tire." They settled on Yokohama S Drive rubber all round, 185/55-15 and 205/50-15 front and rear, respectively.
The Falcon had recently had an interior re-trim by Orange Auto Upholstery, with black headliner and carpet, and silver-gray stock-inspired door cards and seats. Reluctant to mess with what already looked good, Chris tied it together by painting the dash and interior in the same green as the exterior, with a silver inlay in the dash that flows into the doors. All interior paint received a flat clearcoat. A Mooneyes gauge set and silver 'flake steering wheel were added, as well as laminated dash and shifter knobs, to complete the interior. The trunk uses the stock mat on the floor, with all metal surfaces painted body color.
Of course, after Chris invested more time and energy into the project than he would have if he simply planned to flip it, as is so often the case with personal projects of shop owners, a customer liked the Falcon just a little more than Chris did, and it went down the road. This hopefully means he should be able to get on with the rather nice El Camino that's been on the back burner for a while, or perhaps even his chopped F-1 pickup.