Paul and Sharlene Cartier's 1963 Falcon Sprint Hardtop
We purchased our Sprint in March 1963 when we were married just two months. I was 20 and Paul was 22. We just loved this new sporty look -- it was so sleek and fast looking. Some of you may be too young to remember the first ad that came out for the first Sprint on TV. Ford started airing the 1963 1/2 Falcon Sprint ad in January or February of 1963. It showed the driver shifting the 4 speed stick and all the windows were down racing up a steep mountain road. It really looked great. We ran down to the Ford dealer and ordered it from the factory and it was delivered in March.
We still have the window sticker -- it reads as follows:
Falcon Futura Hardtop 2198.00
Four-Speed Transmission 188.00
Falcon V8 Sprint Equipment 404.60
Back-Up Lights 10.70
Tinted Windshield 12.95
Radio AM 58.50
Padded Dash and Visors 21.80
650 x 13 WSW Tires 33.00
Out the door price was $3,089.59.
As you can see, if you wanted a Sprint, you would order the Futura with the Sprint Equipment. The Sprint Equipment came with a 260 V8 engine (black), a tachometer, chrome air cleaner, chrome oil cap, chrome radiator cap, chrome valve covers with a Sprint sticker on it and a chrome dip stick.
About six months after we bought the car all the chrome was stolen from under the hood. It happened at college -- Paul was taking night courses. He started the car and it sounded very loud. So he got out, lifted the hood and found that the air cleaner was missing and then started noticing all the chrome was missing too. The only thing left was the chrome valve covers. This is when Paul put in a kill switch. He felt lucky that the car wasn't stolen. He hobbled down to Ford (it was the only car we had at the time) to replace the chrome and was told that they had to be ordered and would take a week to get them. He couldn't drive for a week without it so he was forced to buy the unchromed parts. To this day we have never replaced them with chrome except the air-cleaner. My goal now is to replace those parts with chrome this summer without fail.
I didn't drive it much the first two years. Although I learned to drive a column stick in school this one was different because it was in the floor. I had so much trouble learning to drive it. Finally my husband decided it was time to learn. I remember practicing making a u-turn in the middle of the street in a quiet neighborhood and another couple in another car came by and stayed back, patiently waiting for me to clear the road. I remembering being so embarrassed about holding up traffic. I could see they understood as they were smiling the whole time. I laugh about it now. I won't drive an automatic anymore - I'm hooked on the four speed sticks; I feel that I have more control of the car. We have four cars and they all have stick shifts.
Some time in 1964 Paul had some cut-outs made. We planned on taking the Sprint to the drags to compete with other cars in our class. We used to race our 1957 Ford Fairlane. Just after Paul got the cut-outs we decided to go for a drive in the mountains, away from the city, to test them out. After we got well into the mountains away from people Paul found a turn-off and stopped. He opened the cut-outs and got back in and started her up. I couldn't believe how loud it was. We were driving further up the road and passed a motorcycle officer going down. All of a sudden we see flashing lights in our rear view mirror. The officer pulled us over and said we were creating a disturbance. Paul said ``who are we disturbing besides the birds and animals?'' The officer said ``The picnickers.'' There weren't any people around for miles. Our luck was running into an old fuss budget. He wrote up a fix-it-ticket and ordered the cut-outs welded shut. We never did get to the drags.
There were many times that Paul found other people wanting to race him at a stop lights. Engines racing and hearts throbbing waiting for the green light. Paul couldn't resist. Meanwhile I'm sweating with worry that he may get us into an accident. He never did fortunately. As a matter of fact the car has never been in an accident, knock and wood. By the way we put seat belts in as soon as we got the car as cars didn't come with seat belts. I believe they were available but they were an extra expense. Anyway we won quite a few races.
Now, about the wheels. In 1969 my husband went crazy over the new Mustang Mach I, 428 Cobra Jet with ram air and just had to have it too. It was also ordered from the factory. He took the wheels off and put them on the Falcon. It made the Falcon more beefy looking. He then put mags on the Mustang. The original Falcon wheels are tucked away nice and safe until someday we decide to put them back on.
In 1979 the compression was dropping and smoking a little so the engine was rebuilt by our mechanic. When we brought it home my husband noticed that our
mechanic painted the engine blue. We didn't bother to go back to have it repainted. It should be black. The valve covers were leaking and couldn't be repaired so Paul had him put on Cobra cast aluminum covers. One of the Cobra covers came with an oil spout so now it looks like we have two oil spouts. We still have the original valve covers packed away somewhere. Miles driven so far from date of purchase is 114789.
In 1980 the car was repainted with the same Ford factory Champagne color; we had hoped it would be more shiny. The only thing I regret about getting Champagne is that it is duller than other paints. I have often wondered if a clear coat finish might help.
Paul plans to take an early retirement and do the things he has always wanted to do and that is work on his old cars. The two of us are looking forward to replacing the upholstery and padding and the headliner ourselves. We've done it before on a 65 Mustang and it turned out really nice. The Falcon upholstery looks pretty good after all these years but it is indeed fragile especially the headliner; it's mainly the stitching that is the problem. I've had to hand stitch it several times over the years. If you will notice in one of the pictures that at the top edge of the back seat the stitching has come out. I keep it covered with a nice wool blanket to protect it until we are ready to re-upholster it. We plan to replace the padding in the bucket seats too especially the drivers seat. I feel like I'm am sitting in a hole - I hate that. I use a cushion for now to sit higher until it is fixed.
Over the past ten years or so I have found notes on my windshield in the parking lot asking if we would be interested in selling our car. They leave their names and phone numbers hoping I'll call them. I keep these notes in my glove box. One time I was followed into a gas station and he came up to me and wondered if I would sell the car. All I can say to them is: ``My husband would kill me if I did.'' I have to agree with Paul, it would be very hard to sell it. The Sprint is like a member of our family as is the Mach I.
We really enjoy driving the Falcon. I drive it once a week to work to keep it up. And Paul drives the Mach 1 once a week. Oh, by the way I still keep the Falcon Club sticker in my rear window. If TFFN comes out with a sticker I plan to put it next to it.