Vagabond Falcon

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All three Regular Car Reviews cars, circa. 2015 - the Vagabond Falcon is to the far left.

For the pre-build review, please see 1960 Ford Falcon (Stock).

The Vagabond Falcon is, quite literally, the official car of Regular Car Reviews. It is a highly-modified - yet still-retro-looking - 1960 Ford Falcon, who's work became a fixation of Mr. Regular through the tenth to the twelth season, and now is registered as an official Regular Car Reviews company car. On occasion, the Vagabond Falcon does serve as a camera car, however, Mr. Regular still prefers to use the Honda Fit - or whatever car he has now - as a daily driver, and so, the Falcon usually is found locked up in his garage.

The Vagabond Falcon is a usual appearance at car shows in the Pennsylvania area. As is the case with Mr. Regular's cars appearing at shows, Mr. Regular is quick to self-depreciate by saying "This dick", among other sayings, in car show episodes filmed after the building period.

Operation: Vagabond Falcon[edit]

Main article: Operation: Vagabond Falcon

Review[edit]

Modified 1960 Ford Falcon - 'Vagabond Falcon'
RCR Vagabond Falcon Thumb.jpg
Car Details
Make Ford
Model Falcon
Year 1960
Owner Regular Car Reviews
Episode Details
Episode Link Watch
Season Vagabond Summer
Air Date September 19, 2016
Transcript
Credits u/Ianator

This is the Vagabond Falcon! She works! It's time to review what a 1960 Ford Falcon is like with a swapped 302 or 5.0 Windsor V8, Ford AOD trans, Explorer 8.8 rear. Thank you to Bruce Henn for making this Dream car real. Thank you to all of you who like RCR!

Transcript[edit]

This is a heavily-modified 1960 Ford Falcon sedan.

---

INTRO SONG by THE ROMAN

This car is done now,
No more work to do,
Except everything that is left to do,
It's never over,
But then that's the point,
Building cars will claim a piece of you...

---

MONOLOGUE by MR REGULAR

You, the viewers, helped create this. Thank you! When I started RCR I wouldn't believe we would have the resources to build the ultimate Regular Car. Although when the project finally finished this is far from normal, isn't it?

To explain the Vagabond Falcon the easiest way: It is, on top, a 1960 Ford Falcon and, underneath, a 1993 fox body Mustang. Ah yes, technically the motor and transmission did not come from a Mustang, it came from a Thunderbird, but they shared the same motor and transmission so it's the easiest way to explain it to people.

And the man of the year, if not the decade, is Bruce Henn. The builder. We can't thank him enough. We thank him for everything. In Bruce we trust. At my darkest moments throughout the build Bruce always said, "Don't worry." He said, "You worry too much." every time I thought the project would've fallen through. "Bruce says, 'Don't worry'," that should be a t-shirt. I was able to do some of the work but everything I did was double-checked by Bruce. Bruce also designed the Y-pipe which connects the two headers coming down into a single pipe going out the back so this is a four-into-one exhaust. And he heat wrapped it as well.

There is so much to talk about. The motor of the Vagabond Falcon is named the 302 Redeemer. Ah, yes, even technically you'd want to call it a 5.0 because it came from a fox body. But the intake plenum is gone. In its place is an Edelbrock carburetor and intake manifold. And it's no longer fed by an electric fuel pump but a mechanical one so this thing more closely resembles a 302. In fact, it's painted like one as well.

Bruce built an amazing motor. It now has full roller rockers which was a kerfuffle to build but Bruce did it! And it runs! And it really doesn't need roller rockers, I mean those are for high performance but... well, it does make it run smoother. But it has a stock camshaft. A new one but a stock one as well. So the engine just idles normally. Because let's be honest, this is more power than what a Ford Falcon needs. Or ever had.

Even in 1963, the Falcon Sprints which had a 260 V8 made, ah... maybe 150 horsepower? We haven't dyno'd this thing but Bruce's butt-dyno says it's probably somewhere between 240 and 250 horsepower. Yeah, I know the 5.0s were rated at 225 but we removed the EGR and other power- it has no, uh, air conditioning holding it back, it has no power steering holding it back and it's breathing through Pypes performance headers which were supplied to us from Pypes Performance Exhaust in Hatfield, Pennsylvania so it is breathing really easily so... we may be up to 250 horse and somewhere around that for torque. W- we'll get this on a dyno at some point and either, well... look, it's fast enough, whatever the numbers is.

Other amazing things that Bruce did... Okay, the engine block is from a 1993 motor, a 1993 5.0. But me, being a hipster, I wanted mechanical fuel delivery. I didn't want an electric fuel pump whining away in the background so I said, "Can't we just convert this to mechanical fuel delivery?" And Bruce looks at it and says, "Yeah, I can do that." And he goes back into his Mustang graveyard, a back room at Henn's Garage, and he produces a timing cover from a 1968 Ford 302.

Now that initially didn't fit a 1993 block but the only things that were different was the guide pins on a 1993 5.0 block, or 302, are larger. So all he had to do was drill out the guide holes on the 1968 timing cover and then it fit. And then we got a water pump, a new old stocker- actually, a new reproduction, they still make water pumps for '60s 302s 'cause they're so popular, and that goes on. And then we had the opening on the side of the timing cover for the mechanical fuel pump. So there it goes.

So it starts 199- oh, and then the pulleys were made- like, the pulleys were made for V belts but we wanted a serpentine belt so when you look at the motor it goes, 1993, 1968, 2016. You know, with the aluminum Marsh pulley setups which are completely modern. How about that? And since it no longer has a Ford lethargic two-speed automatic, it has the Ford AOD four-speed from a '93 T-Bird. Bruce designed and welded his own removable transmission mount which has a poly mount so it doesn't move at all.

Bruce also took frame strengthening rails... Now these are for first-generation Mustangs. You see, both the Mustangs and the Falcon were unibody cars. The frame began at the front of the car and then stopped at the doors. And then there was no real frame in the middle of the car and then it started again at the back. That was the frame, the- there was no frame in the middle. Early Mustangs and Falcons, there's no frame in the middle, it's just the floor and the bo- and the roof of the car hold the car together. But with this much power under here it would probably torque and twist the, uh, body and that would crack your windows. So these big frame rails are welded in, in the front and the back, and that holds the car together. And it also makes the handling stiffer. We'll get to the handling later.

Big thanks to Tony Rumble from Bruce Henn's Garage for teaching me how to rebuild an Edelbrock carburetor and for cracking jokes the entire time and for keeping my morale up when I got down in the gut and got all gloom and doomy as they said. Tony's just a ball to have around and I smile every time I see him. Thank you, Tony.

Huge thank you to Matt Walsh. Good friend Matt came by a few times and really put in the work to help us tear down and rebuild this five-liter V8. Big thank you to Louis Phillips who welded up the transmission hump. We were able to keep the existing transmission metal, the transmission hump metal there, but in order to fit the AOD four-speed in it had to be rasied, mmm, about an inch. Everywhere. So Phillip and Justin Kramer designed a sort of little expansion ribbon, little bit of extra steel, welded that all in- I couldn't have done that without them so thank you so much Phillip and Justin.

Justin Kramer also gave us this Edelbrock 600CFM carburetor that feeds the Vagabond Falcon. Phillip also helped us get this B&M Megashifter to control the transmission. And the B&M Megashifter was also supplied by Mogel Innovations.

Thank you to Abby Strauss and Dan Solner for designing the exhaust 'hump' or the curve - I call it like the 'Strauss and Solner Curve' as it goes up and over the rear axle and out the back. They designed that and welded it up and put it in in a day.

Big thanks to Dan Marshall and Sam Denham for coming through on the last day and giving us some extra hands as we got that pusher fan in place, had to take the bumper on and off, you guys were solid at the very end of the build.

Now for sponsors! We already thanked Pypes Performance from Hatfield, Pennsylvania for our Shorty headers. Big thank you to Chad from Speedway Motors who gave us the fan, rocker covers, roller rockers, brake booster, proportioning valve, master cylinder, overflow tank, gauges, Edelbrock intake manifold, this HEI distributor and a plethora of other stuff that you can see in this unboxing video.

Huge thank you to Kevin Hartman from Advance Auto Parts who gave us all the interior components to rebuild this five-liter motor. Advance Auto was on point every single time.

Thank you to Troy Froux. Although not a sponsor, he did sell us this motor and transmission for friend prices, thank you very much. Big hugs to TCI and Eckler's Automotive who gave us this wonderful front end. Yes, we got in this kit a big K member and motor mounts to hold the 302 motor. The kit also comes with double-A arms and RideTech coilovers as well as ventilated and slotted front disc brakes and the hubs all that come assembled, you just bolt them in, as well as a sway bar and all the poly mounts cushion it, kind of, all together.

TCI, which stands for Total Cost Involved, they're one of only two manufacturers I know of who make front end kits for Falcons. The other one would be Rod End Customs, uh, they make one that's more race oriented, TCI's is more street oriented.

Thank you to Wheel Vintiques and also Kocher Tire who gave us these wheels and tires to go with them as well as the hub caps. And also Kahn Media, the company that spearheaded this project for the wheels and tires. Thank you Kahn Media. Thank you to Mogel Innovations for donating this wonderful B&M shifter so we can control our AOD transmission, I love it.

Although they're not a sponsor, uh, shout out to Gearhead Machining who built us this rear end. The rear end of the Falcon comes from a 1998 Ford Explorer and that's what Gearhead Machining does. The owner is J.R. Straut and what he does is he cuts down Explorer rear ends for use in Mustangs and also in Falcons and some people who build up, uh, Ford Rangers and put 302s in those.

So you need this 8.8 rear. The thing about Ford Explorers is they're easy to cut down because the differential is offset so one sub- one of the tubes is longer than the other and the splines are longer than the other. So I think it's the driver side that is longer so you take off the driver side and you get another rear end and take the passenger one off and what- and you put it where the driver's one is and you have something that is, like, only half an inch wider than an existing Falcon rear end, er, Mustang rear end. And the 8.8 gets you all kinds of gearings you want. This one has a rather aggressive 3-7-3 rear end but it also gives you limited slip diff and rear disc brakes.

And I can't forget the previous owner, Joseph Rini, who had this Falcon for... gosh, fifteen, sixteen years? He kept it out of the rain, he kept it out of the weather so yes, he saved a Falcon and not many people do.

Although they're not a sponsor, thank you very much to Moyer's Car Care for towing this car like three times as, you know, the brakes kinda locked up in the beginning, that was my fault, I left a little rubber grommet in there, and also for doing the alignment. Moyer's has been towing my cars for years and will continue to get my business.

And thank you to everybody who donated to Patreon, or (Pahtreon), that allowed us to build this. Without you, this wouldn't be possible. And I want as many people as possible to see the Vagabond Falcon. It's quite a machine. And this is my first V8. I'm an American and I've never owned a V8 before. AND I ENJOY IT.

When people say, "No replacement for displacement," what they're really referring to IS TORQUE. OOOH. As Leno says, it's the Hand of God. You're already in top gear and you step on the gas and the motor do- and the transmission doesn't need to downshift, it's just GRUNT that goes through.

The front wheels are slightly farther apart than the rear wheels. Just because we didn't roll the rear fenders, we kept them tucked in to keep the body lines the same. How much that affects handling, I'm not sure but it does turn in very easily. And it's exciting for the driver and terrifying for the passengers because now this car handles like a modern machine. It goes around corners! And- but the driver has this big wheel to hang on to and everybody else has nothing. So the thing to do if you're a passenger is to hold on to the rain gutter on the roof. That's your only real handhold.

When this car was finished, during the first few weeks of driving when it was all sorted, I had to remind myself, "Stop racing people, stop racing people" at a light. I get it now. Drag racing. I'm faster than most people. It was sort of the same feeling I had when I got into sport bikes for the first time. Although with sport bikes people think you're fast. This, people think you're just out for a Sunday drive and then you pull away from everybody.

And anybody can drive this. I mean, teaching people how to use a ratcheting automatic shift lever is- I usually have to go through a safety talk 'cause it's a little bit of, "pat your head, rub your tummy" with this thing because you have to go down to go up, sometimes the trigger functions, sometimes it doesn't... I won't get into that here.

But what did Bruce design? Is there a theme to this? Well, what if Robert McNamara never left Ford? And thus, with his penny-pinching skills, he never allowed the Mustang to be created? If McNamara was around, they would've made the Cardinal project which was supposed to take the Falcon and make it even simpler. So Iaccoca would've never become president, he would've been forced to create a youthful car out of the Falcon which indeed he'd started to in 1963, he made the Falcon Sprint. But what if he had to develop that idea further? He would've created something like this.

The Falcon represents the sort of sleeper car that would've existed if the Mustang didn't. Sort of like an alternate history. So Iaccoca would probably have s- urged the designers to little- to be a little more aggressive with it. And not so goody two-shoes as the first iterations of the Falcon were. Because if you get caught violating laws in a Ford Falcon, the officer will probably let you off with a warning. And not a fake, "I'm lettin' you off but not really" warning, I'm talking a real, honest-to-God, "Get outta here, you scamp!" warning.

And why wouldn't he? I mean, I get thumbs up from officers all the time in this. I don't want to think that I'm invincible but I don't look like a fast car, I look like a little ol' grandma thing. And it also- you also look that way from the back because the steering wheel rises above the dash because it's so big, you- every- and you sink down into these sprung seats. Everyone looks like an old man or an old lady in one of these. Because your hands are just up on the wheel, ""I'm just goin' along, I mean, how bad could I really be in a Ford Falcon?" But if I'm in a Mustang it's, "Lemme throw his ass in jail and send this thing to the impound lot." It's one of the greatest examples of how aesthetics create perception. If you drive around a neighborhood in a Falcon, everybody you roll past will have a look on their face that puts the 'lousy' in jealousy.

Now, this really only applies to the United States. Because we only had the Falcon from 1960 until 1970. And then it was gone. I understand in Australia and New Zealand a Falcon is kind of a douchey car? It's kinda like a Monte Carlo or- or an IROC Camaro, a car for people who enjoy swallowing chewing tobacco? EAUGH. Y'know, the type of people who go through life saying, ""What are you lookin' at?"" and meaning it. The type of guys who set the standard for how good or bad a neighborhood is.

But not in the United States! Falcons are for nice people. I mean, even grumps who find other people's happiness obnoxious will struggle to not be charmed by this thing. The man whose wife has tits so droopy it looks like she has a frowning St. Bernard on her chest? That guy will live anew behind the wheel of a Falcon because it's an echo chamber of life-affirming reassurance. It stops the shot clock of everyday life and earns you the kind of politeness and respect that people deserve anyway no matter what they drive.

The Falcon represents a 1960s America that we want to believe existed. A rolling snapshot that highlights the good and erases the bad. You can drive this car and imagine you're John Hamm from the first season of Mad Men. That 1960. The one that never was. That forward-thinking America that other countries see in us sometimes romantically, that we want to hear repeated so we can see it for ourselves. A car that represents the youthfulness of our fathers or grandparents that we weren't around for but want to experience.

I may have repeated this before but one of the greatest lines in nonfiction literature was written by Samuel Hynes in Flights of Passage. And it goes like this: "We go back in space because we can't go back in time." And what he was talking about was, we go back in physical space. It's why you occasionally will go back to your old high school or college or try to get in to your old dorm and see your old room. We can't go back to those days.

But we can go back to cars. We continue to change but they remain the same. And even if they're modified they remain perplexingly themselves. There's a permanence to them. Classic cars will exist longer than we will. And as long as I'm responsible, this Ford Falcon will outlive me. These old metal cars never really die. Unlike modern plastics, everything can be patched. Everything can be cleaned. It can be re-welded.

Matt Farah said this about DeLoreans but it remains true for all classic cars. The Vagabond Falcon really isn't mine, I'm just its caretaker for a while. I will hold on to this vehicle for as long as I can. But when it passes from my hands, I hope her next owner will love her as much as I do.

---

OUTRO SONG by THE ROMAN

So thank you Justin Kramer,
Abby Strauss and Daniel Solner,
Your assistance makes us humble,
Also thank you Tony Rumble.

Anyone else I'm forgetting,
Please don't hate me, it's a song,
Oh, and thank you, Mr. Bruce Henn,
You're a champion for all men.

References[edit]