1960s Ford Falcon

October 3, 1959, was a momentous day for the Ford Motor Company. An all-new, really new automobile was about to be unveiled. It was the type of car that late company founder Henry Ford might have been very proud of, for it brought to market many of the concepts he had envisioned with his Model T a half-century earlier. The car was of a relatively new class on the American scene known as the compact. It was named the Ford Falcon.

The Ford Falcon's origin came in autumn 1959, when it was one of three new compacts to be introduced by the U.S. "Big Three" automakers. After several marketing blunders in the Fifties, most notably the Edsel, those who worked in the "Glass House" at Ford's World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, were keeping their fingers crossed. By the end of the model year, Falcon was the winner of the sales race in the new category by a large margin.

By the mid Fifties, European imports proved to be a growing segment of the American new-car market. At the head of the pack was Germany's Volkswagen. Developed before World War II to be the German "people's car," its basic design had proven popular and dependable. The VW's success lured other European imports to America's shores, though in very limited numbers. Individually, these cars caused little concern for the U.S. automakers, but collectively they were recognized as a sales threat to be reckoned with.