During the 1950’s, American cars were caught up with competitive growth in size. As each successive model appeared, it resembled the previous ones, but never was shorter or lighter. Perception of the American public was trained in the “bigger is better” school and this perception was reinforced by the domestic manufacturers like Ford, typical of the Industry, who saw its full-size car grow over 18 inches in length to a hefty 17.8 feet overall.
Imported cars were generally smaller, the VW was shorter by almost five feet, and lacked traditional “comforts”, but a significant portion of Detroit’s market was becoming receptive to the smaller,. lighter, more economical imports. import market had climbed to almost 7% of the domestic total and was growing rapidly.
Ford was certainly not alone in perceiving the emerging market, but Ford was the first of the three major manufacturers to bring to the market a car designed specifically to fill new requirements for a smaller. lighter. more fuel-efficient, more comfortable, and more crisply styled car. So new was this entrant that it was described simply as the “New-Size” car.
Introduced on October 8. 1959, the Falcon was offered as transportation. Unlike the Mustang which was later derived from it, Falcon was offered with a very narrow choice of Options. Intended as inexpensive transportation, it claimed “up to 30 miles per gallon on regular gas”. It offered room for six passengers (against only 4 for most imports) and was the result of a three year three=million mile development and test program.
In the 12 months following its introduction over a half a million were produced and by the end of its second model year almost one million Falcons had been manufactured, a record that would be exceeded only by the derivative Mustang in the mid-sixties. Falcon had certainly met its intended mark!