When the name Ford Falcon is mentioned, most car enthusiasts' eyes begin an upward rolling motion. A car once so popular, but now laughed off by the majority. But why?
Well, of course, the Falcon became a dinosaur in many ways until its recent extinction, but was it really worthy of such disdain? The Falcon was a car I hated most of my life. It was an American inspired, big, thirsty, agricultural mass of recycled baked bean cans, but I came to know it in its twilight years, when it became quite different from its earlier iterations, and my choice out of many.
Six years ago I needed a reliable single-cab ute with a low price and cheap to run, so I went searching the myriad Asian diesel utes available, and came up with a new 2012 Falcon FG2 EcoLPi. So how did I arrive here?
After previously having a Mazda Bravo ute, my internal organs injured each journey, and any amount of dampness on a corner resulting in an unintended drift into my fellow traffickers, I felt I needed comfort and handling as a priority, and all else was secondary.
The Falcon ute is, as we all know, based on a car, and I do believe that this type of vehicle is no longer available anywhere in the developed world. This design endowed the vehicle with a ride and handling pairing so near a passenger car, I would forget there was a large inbox following me everywhere I go.
The comfort and handling are superb for such a vehicle, and at the time no Asian ute came close. And I still believe that is the case. The Commodore may have been an option too, but Holden had already dumped its cab-chassis version after only what seemed as little as a year, and after going to all the trouble of rebirthing it. So the comfort and security boxes were ticked, and then came economy.
The Falcon has a large inline six-cylinder engine, and over the years its innate habit has been trained to be less greedy, but it still was a heavy drinker. Fortunately, it was still available with an LPG gas option, and in the FG2 an all-new liquid-injection system of Australian design courtesy of the Orbital Engine Company was finally replacing the old fart and belch version of decades standing.
The new system saved a measurable amount of fuel usage, importantly sacrificed next to nothing in power, and actually increased the torque output. We are talking nominally 200kW and 400Nm, and at the 13L/100km combined I achieve regularly – and when gas can be had for 79.9c/L today – it costs the same as a Corolla to feed.
Price was an issue, especially when what you are buying is a work vehicle that is not going to be loved, so I procrastinated and looked far and wide. I finally settled on $28,000, with the $2000 LPG rebate still offered by the federal government, so $26,000 drive-away. A bargain in my mind, and all my priorities met.
The downsides are annoying little things like a climate-control system that predetermines its settings, as if it knows better than you what you want. Also, steering wheel controls that are not illuminated in the dark, which I imagine are quite okay when operated by the blind drivers among us.
The upsides have been that it has never failed to proceed, nothing has broken (excepting what I broke), and the commercial-grade standard tyres – well, who has 120,000km on their original set of tyres that are not yet illegal? I do!
So the Falcon came to me late, more as a reliable tool than a car, and now I'd happily buy another new one to replace this one. But the world has moved on, so that just can't happen.