Ford Falcon: The Legendary Car of Argentina
Buenos Aires is a bustling metropolis, its streets congested with bulbous Peugeots, darting black-and-yellow taxis and hissing buses with whitewall tires. But perhaps the most Argentine of all vehicles is a creation that was born in the United States but found a much longer life here: The Ford Falcon.
This stalwart model, produced by Ford Motor Company in the United States from 1960 to 1970, was a common sight on the roads when I was growing up. But the version made in Argentina attracted a much more devoted following, and the model was produced here from 1962 all the way until 1991. The car played a visual role in important parts of Argentine history; a friend of mine who used to travel to Argentina frequently in the 1970s used to tell me about Ford Falcons used by the military junta, which would screech up to restaurants and arrest diners just a few tables away from where he sat.
Today, of course, the sight of a Ford Falcon carries no such threat of arrest or disappearance. Various model updates throughout its long run have created a variety of different looks, and picking out the various incarnations is a favorite activity for me when wandering the quieter streets of Palermo. There are countless Websites, including Todo Falcon
, dedicated to documenting the vehicle’s history, and Wikipedia has a complete entry just about the Argentine Falcon
. Ford Falcons still participate in Argentine road races throughout the year.
Since I write about travel and tourism, I’ve fantasized about starting a local tour company that would conduct personalized city tours aboard perfectly restored Ford Falcons. But maybe it’s not the best business plan. “A lot of people here in Argentina wouldn’t think that’s a good idea,” warns Sandra Borello, president of Borello Travel & Tours
, a tour company with offices in New York City and Buenos Aires. “When some people look at Ford Falcons, they still think about the dictatorship and kidnappings.”
For better or for worse, these workhorse vehicles may be out of production, but they’re still a big part of Argentina’s automotive passion and sociopolitical history — and they’re still easily visible on many side streets.