Stablemates: How Values of the ’65 Ford Mustang and ’65 Falcon Compare

Ford

April 17 marks sixty years since the Ford Mustang’s public debut at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The original pony car immediately became a pop-culture and automotive phenom, and it remains one of the most impactful cars in history. We’re celebrating with stories of the events surrounding the Mustang’s launch, the history of the early cars, and tales from owners. Click here to follow along with our multi-week 60 Years of Mustang coverage. -Ed.

When the very first Mustang galloped onto the car scene at the 1964 World’s Fair, there was nothing quite like the pioneering pony car. It was youthful, sexy, and sporty, but also practical, and surprisingly affordable. It was new. In reality, though, what made this new car affordable was that it wasn’t new at all, at least not under the skin. The bits that made the Mustang go were from Ford’s compact Falcon. The Falcon was already a very successful car, but because of the Mustang’s outsized impact—both automotive and cultural—the new and exciting model immediately stole sales from the old and conventional one, and the bird has lived in the shadow of the horse ever since. Sixty years on and now that they’re both well-established classic cars, how do they stack up in the market?

As the 1950s turned into the 1960s, fins and chrome were proving unsustainable, and American buyers were increasingly choosing smaller, cheaper automobiles. Most of the choices in said smaller, cheaper segment were imported Volkswagens, Fiats, and Renaults. The Big Three responded with their own compacts—Chrysler with the Valiant, Chevrolet with the Corvair, and Ford with the Falcon—for the 1960 model year.

While the Falcon’s main competition, the rear-engined and air-cooled Corvair, was radically new and different for Chevrolet, the Falcon was a safe and conservative choice for Ford. Its unibody construction was somewhat advanced, but otherwise, its layout and styling were conventional. In their two approaches to the same customer, Ford’s strategy won out, with the Falcon easily outselling the Corvair and inspiring Chevrolet to play catch-up with its own conventional compact, the Chevy II.

Ford built the Falcon until 1970, and in typical ’60s fashion offered the model range with a huge array of options like the dolled up Falcon Futura, body styles including two- and four-door sedans, two-door hardtops, convertibles, two- and four-door station wagons, and a sedan delivery. From 1960-65, the Ranchero pickup also moved to the Falcon platform.

Despite the wide range of Falcons available and sales well into the millions, there is one narrow slice of Falcon history that gets most of the attention, and that’s because it spawned the Mustang. Partway through the 1963 model year, the Falcon got a V-8 engine for the first time as a welcome upgrade from the humble Mileage Maker straight-six. Available in the two-door hardtop and convertible body styles, these 1963.5 260-cubic inch V-8-powered Falcon Sprints sold in relatively small numbers (about 15,000), but this is the car that provided the basis for the Mustang a year later, and is mechanically almost identical.

A restyled, squared-up Falcon with horizontal creases down the body sides debuted in 1964, still available as a Sprint model with an upgraded exhaust, a stiffer suspension, and the Fairlane’s 260 V-8. Later in the model year, the 260 was swapped out for the 289, but the Sprint was discontinued after 1965 and so was the convertible model, abandoning the Falcon’s brief but real (a Falcon Sprint won its class at the Monte Carlo Rally) sporting pretensions.

That’s because the Mustang immediately and inevitably cannibalized sales from the Falcon. Even though most Mustang options were available on the technically cheaper Falcon, prices were close enough that most buyers could easily talk themselves into the more exciting pony car. This was true for both six- and eight-cylinder buyers, and convertible Mustangs outsold their Falcon counterparts by 11 to 1. As the Mustang spent the rest of the decade becoming a cultural icon, the Falcon spent its third and final generation from 1966-70 riding on a shortened Fairlane platform and seeing its sales decline.

Six decades after they first started sharing showroom space, mid-’60s Mustangs and Falcons have long since been established as part of the classic car hobby. And the market still treats them differently, though not drastically so. If we measure the number of insured vehicles and go by year/make/model, the 1965 Ford Mustang is the most popular classic car in the United States. What’s the second-most popular? The 1966 Mustang. The 1964 and 1965 Falcons, meanwhile, rank number 426 and 438, respectively. That said, their values aren’t drastically different, if you compare similarly equipped Mustangs and Falcons. Convertibles command a premium in general, as do 289s, and Mustangs have mostly seen more appreciation over the past few years. See the graph below to see how they’ve stacked up.

Average insured values among Hagerty members tell a similar story, with Mustangs commanding a similar premium but with both staying in reasonably affordable territory. For 1965-66 Mustang owners, the average value ranges from the mid- to high-$20K range. For 1964-65 Falcons, it’s in the high teens. As for buyer interest and demographics, there are slight but notable differences there as well. The first generation (1965-73) Mustang mostly tracks with the collector car market as a whole, which is unsurprising since it’s a prolific, popular car with cross-generational appeal despite its age.

The Falcon, meanwhile, skews toward a slightly older crowd despite its lower price, with Baby Boomers making up the largest share of buyers. They remember Falcons when they were new, but the Falcon didn’t have the lasting cultural impact of the Mustang, so its appeal to younger enthusiasts is more limited.

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The equivalent Mustangs and Falcons are different cars, sure, but they’re both part of the Ford fraternity and are quite similar under the skin. Value trends for them aren’t too different, either, considering the difference in production numbers and popularity. The Mustang will always win the popularity contest, but the Falcon is still a successful, desirable car in its own right that deserves to be more than just a footnote in pony car history.

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Comments

    Rambler and Lark are a worth-mentioning factor in respects to the big 3 entering compact car sales.

    Mustang looked forward, even the Mustang II held onto styling cues. Fox body is a different direction, but then they evolved it back into retro-Mustang design language. It was also a new style.

    Falcon on the other hand is very specifically early 60s in look, even the 65 is looking back more than forward in design. It’s style is conservative and not really that distinct from other brands compacts (i.e., early Chev II) or even full size (65 Falcon vs. 62 Chev Biscayne).

    If it weren’t for the success of the Ramblers (and a bit lesser degree the Lark) the big three wouldn’t have come out with compacts for quite some time, I bet! The Rambler was helped out by the 1958 recession — same with Lark. Rambler was just the more popular of the two.

    The Falcon station wagon and Ranchero (with the F-250 load capacity) from the Bond movie, Goldfinger are the only Falcons that I can ever recall creating any cultural impact. Mustangs, another story.

    F-600 capacity! That Lincoln had to weight three and half tons, not counting the gangster.
    Toughest Rancher-oo ever.

    While I love the Mustang, all things being equal, I’d probably buy a Falcon instead. Maybe I’m being swayed a little because you see so fewer of them. Still the 64 /65 Falcon Sprint ( and Comet Caliente ) look real good to me especially in convertible form. A nice vintage parts warmed over 289 4 speed version would suit me just fine. Then again a 70 Falcon with a 429 CJ or SCJ wouldn’t exactly suck either.

    Nice to see some attention paid to the falcon! A sprint with a 289 and 4 speed has always been a favorite of mine.

    I had a ‘69 6-cylinder in the mid-80s. Really liked it until, because it was something of a rust buck, I found it difficult to find sheet metal parts/panels. I was told, because of Falcon’s fade in light of the Mustang, this was not unusual and got worse as you went from ‘66-‘70 models.

    It’s to bad we didn’t get the Australian branded Ford Falcon’s. In the 90’s to early 2000’s with Mustang V8’s or Turbo Inline 6’s. I would have definitely been in the market for one of those Aussie Falcon’s. As it is the 60’s Falcons are great cars.

    With the popularity of the Mustang, the 66-70 Falcons were relegated to being low content economy models…again, though it was possible to get one with bucket seats and a 4 on the floor. The larger Fairlane platform has a wider engine bay and allows for pretty much any engine swap. These cars are still relative bargains in the market, but you’ll want a solid one as repro body panels are almost non-existent.

    I bought a ’63 Fairlane wagon with 100,000 miles on it from my father. Sold it 16,000 miles later. I don’t regret selling it, but I sure would like to have it back.

    GM designed the Corvair to compete with the VW,Lark,Rambler but when the bucket seat 4 speed coupes and converts sales took off? Ford said Yea!

    I’ve always preferred the Falcon and Comet from an appearance standpoint, especially in the Futura and Caliente. But the Cyclone is the holy grail to me. Falcon had no real peer (the Futura was more lux like the Caliente so as not to step on the Mustang GT; Mercury had no such qualms about its muscle-car aspirations). Unfortunately, Comet became a Fairlane, then a Montego. We won’t discuss the Maverick version.

    Friendly note to JeffS and Studenorton. Com’on guys, you have to know that scene from Goldfinger was a story line and intended to be a sight-gag shocker. The movie production company readily admits they had to downsize the block of metal in size and weight to be carried in the rear of the Ranchero.
    I am the proud owner of a 1965 Falcon Ranchero, mildly built 302, 4 speed T10 and 4.3 rear gears. Put factory power steering in it several years ago for my wife. It is so much fun to drive!!

    I’m not at liberty to say my name but i had a 1965 Mustang, Fastback, 289, 4 on the floor in the most beautiful metallic sky blue color…………..I loved that car..my grandfather bought it for me i had it when i was in the Navy but then I got orders to Vietnam …..so when i got back home the first thing I did was drive the car ……..but I threw a rod racing some guy so I thought hell, I’ll just get another one, WHO KNEW .Apparently not me So I got a 69 Mustang with hood locks…………couldn’t keep up the payments ….so i bought a Pinto…..THERE’S A REAL CAR …….IT REALLY IMPRESSED THE GIRLS……………….Anyway right about now you’re saying OK OK WHAT THE HECK IS YOUR POINT ………in 2005 I met a woman who worked for an insurance company and she said,” if you can find the VIN I can find the car ………………..in 2003 it was purchased from a junk yard
    but who ever bought it changed it from a 4 speed to an automatic and repainted the entire car green ….here’s my question IF i bought this car for 30K how much do you estimate it would cost to get it back to the way it was when i first received it ………..it’s incredibly sentimental to me as the first owner and Vietnam veteran
    i took this car to the 1964 Worlds Fair when my band was the House Band at the RCA Pavillion …………….any help would be greatly appreciated………….THANKS FOR READING THIS !!

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