Last time you heard about my ’64 Falcon, I’d just bought it and used it as a counterpoint to $250k chav-rockets.
Figured I’d let you know what a few weeks of driving and some research have brought to bear.
The first big realization was that this car is not all original (gasp!). Like many cars, you can decode the VIN on older Fords (or just read the door data plate) to learn what the original configuration was. In my case, that’s a “U” code engine, “3” code transmission and “3” code axle for a 170c.i. I-6, 2-speed auto and 3.30:1 rearend.
Sometimes (like now) originality’s overrated, but now this opens up more questions: Where did the V8, 4-speed, 5-lug hubs and 8″ rear axle come from (6-cylinders were all 4-lug with the tiny rear axle)? Aside from the seller and the fender badge telling me so, is the 260c.i. really a 260?
The only difference between the 260 and 289 was the bore, but apparently 289s had “289” cast in the heads. Haven’t had time to pull the valve covers to check. As it is, my theory is that someone swapped the running gear out of a destroyed V8 car into this one. Evidence includes cutting on the radiator support and the underside of the transmission tunnel.
About that transmission…It’s not without issue. Most seriously, it seems there’s something up with either the throwout bearing or the pressure plate springs. There’s a ticking/chattering noise whenever the clutch is let all the way out. The noise is keyed to engine speed and happens whether the car’s in gear or not. I can feel it pulsing back through the clutch pedal (hooray for direct linkages). I’m thinking the throwout bearing’s worn out, but only so much that it flops around when not under load (clutch out). With the clutch in, it’s loaded up and settles back into its races…or something.
Less seriously, the shifter’s in dire need of a rebuild. It just kinda flops all over the place. Lastly, the (bitchin’) Hurst shift handle bumps into the bench seat when it’s in fourth. Not a major problem for the seat, but having slight pressure pushing out of gear can’t be good for the tranny long-term.
Since I’m going to be using it for highway commuting, my first concern was getting some taller gearing in the mix. If the rearend was low, I’d look to swap in a T-5 5 speed from a Mustang with that nice, tall overdrive. For better or worse, the previous owner beat me to it with a nice, tall 2.80:1 rearend. Guess that explains why the speedo’s reading too slow. Add a new speedo gear to the shopping list.
Having crawled over and under the car, it’s pretty obvious it spent most of its life by the beach. It’s got pervasive orange-ness that’s not the ground-up road-salt rust nor the typical California top-down sun + rain = rust. It’s more like anything with insufficient paint got a light coating of orange, but no significant corrosion. Case-in-point, check out the suspension below. There are a few trouble spots in the paint on the roof rails, lower fenders and one tail light, but they’ll be quick fixes.
There’s a laundry list of other small issues, but for now the big one is to get that transmission pulled to figure out what’s going on in there. Alas, Santa didn’t bring me a transmission jack, so it’ll be off to Harbor Freight for the cheapest one I can find.
Check out the gallery for more miscellaneous Falcon-bits.